The Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle is a perfect example of crucial investment in infrastructure that needs to be made across the country. We take this infrastructure for granted, despite the fact that the investment was made a generation ago. Check out the earthquake simulation video, frightening. I used to live in Seattle, a city that has always struggled with traffic.
“I woke up with the power out,
not really something to shout about.
Ice has covered up my parents hands
don’t have any dreams don’t have any plans.“
-Arcade Fire, “Neighborhood #3 (Power’s Out)”
This morning, I awoke to the power being out in my home, and my wife and I had to readjust our morning routine. For a second, I wondered if we would have hot water for our showers; fortunately there was plenty left in the tank to take the lukewarm shower I favor in the humid summer. Because the power was out, I could not heat up water to make tea or coffee; for that I had to head to our local Starbucks. As for breakfast, the leftover quinoa salad or yogurt that we were planning to have was suddenly off limits, with no power to the fridge. So I would have to pick something up at Starbucks to eat as well. As soon as I entered my Jetta, and turned the key, the diesel engine started and power coursed from the battery to the radio, powering my radio, and feeding Morning Edition into my ears. By the time I arrived home, power crews were already down the street repairing electrical wires. Before my wife left for work, the power was back on, and we could laugh about the experience. Without fossil fuels we would have been screwed.
The predominantly coal-powered electricity failed, and we were left in the dark. Without fossil fuels, our current home would be uninhabitable for part of the year. We would be unable to cook without starting a fire. Certainly, in the future, homes will need to be more independent, and capable of generating their own power. Solar, wind, geothermal and tidal micropower can all help neighborhoods or homes generate power. These types of systems are more expensive compared to subsidized fossil fuels, but as time goes on and fuels become more expensive themselves, these systems will have to become a big part of our energy future.