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  • Life without power

    WITNESS: Reporting in the dark in icy New Year China



    John Ruwitch is a correspondent for Reuters in south China. He has been studying or reporting on greater China since 1992, and has lived in Beijing, Taipei and Hong Kong, where he is currently based. In the following story he describes three days spent in Chenzhou, a city without power for nearly two weeks. It marked his first trip to Hunan, which is known for its piquant cuisine and as the birthplace of Mao Zedong. He hopes to visit again when the lights are back on.
    By John Ruwitch
    CHENZHOU, China (Reuters) - I stepped nervously from the over-crowded sleeper onto the frigid platform with no hotel, no contacts and no plan other than to find out what it was like to be in a city of 4 million in the midst of a 12-day blackout.
    The ride aboard the L44 train should have taken 4-1/2 hours. Across the snowbound country it had taken four times as long by the time we pulled into Chenzhou, only the second stop on a northbound slog to Beijing from the southern city of Guangzhou.
    Freezing rain and snow in late January coated much of south-central China with a thick layer of ice, contorting tree branches and crumpling some 1,000 high-tension power pylons.
    Chenzhou was at the heart of the freak winter disaster that halted transport and stranded millions in the days before the biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar, the Lunar Yew Year.
    The slush-lined streets were alive with activity, and I learned over the next few days that stoic resignation bolstered by a dash of hope can go a long way under such conditions.
    I headed to a hotel that a motorcycle driver said had power and was offered a cup of hot water at an empty dentist's office with a diesel generator chugging away on the sidewalk outside.
    "This is an ice disaster," said Liu Weibin, jazz in the background. "There's nothing anybody could have done about it."
    The dentist's tap had water because it was on the first floor, he explained. Those higher up weren't so lucky because there hasn't been enough pressure in the city pipes. Most of them had to haul water upstairs by the bucket.
    Hours earlier, Premier Wen Jiabao had visited the city on a well-publicized tour of weather-hit areas -- a sign of how seriously the stability-obsessed ruling Communist Party takes any crisis with the potential to cause unrest.
    LIGHTS OUT
    People with money and connections crowded the few hotels with generators, like the four-star place where I found a room. But even in these oases of light, life wasn't normal.
    At the entrance a hand-written sign told guests that heaters, rice cookers, electric stoves and other household appliances were not allowed because the power supply wasn't strong enough. Another said: Proper Dress Required.
    The elevator was off and I walked up 16 flights to my room. The heater was off, too, so I ordered another quilt. There were no towels because they were not doing laundry to conserve energy, but that didn't matter because there was no hot water.
    Outside, snow covered buildings were outlined in shades of grey, windows dark. A hospital nearby had power and lights. A red neon sign from another shone miles away.
    By day, in a crowded outdoor market, people grumbled about price hikes for everything from peppercorns to dog meat.
    Rumors circulated of deaths in crushes at grocery stores. I was told a food stall at the train station had been looted. Petrol was almost impossible to get.
    I spent an afternoon with a prominent Chenzhou resident looking for fuel. Two stations we passed had dozens of cars queuing. A third was closed. Through connections, he finally secured a 25 kg (25 liters or 6.6 gallons) jug full. "I had to fight for it!" said the middle-aged man.
    The city government sent a text message to local mobile phones urging people not to drive.
    As I shared tea, rice cakes and sips of white lightning with a family in an old section of town where their ancestors put down roots some 300 years ago, the matriarch eagerly read old newspapers I'd brought, her first news in days.
    Ahead of the New Year, which begins on Thursday, I spent an evening huddled near a coal stove talking with four bitter ex-employees of failed state-run enterprises.
    One, a maker of beancurd, cursed the heavens for the foul weather and aimed a barrage of abuse at the Communist Party.
    "The problem is that the government is too corrupt. They don't think about these things happening. They weren't prepared and they don't have the ability to solve a problem as big as this," he said.
    When the candle on the table burned out, I turned on my headlamp and we continued talking for a while. I wished them a Happy New Year and left them talking in the dark.
    (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Sean Maguire)



    http://www.reuters.com/article/reute...080207?sp=true

  • #2
    Re: Life without power

    Thank you JohnW.

    Sadly I can only said that in a life without power we shall assume an chicken-like behaviour: sleep when the sun goes down, and stand-up when it rise.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Life without power

      Originally posted by JohnW View Post
      "The problem is that the government is too corrupt. They don't think about these things happening. They weren't prepared and they don't have the ability to solve a problem as big as this," he said.
      This pretty much describes governments everywhere when talking about a pandemic. If we can't solve lights out for 10 days...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Life without power

        Powerful Solar Storm Could Shut Down U.S. for Months

        Solar Storm Video - Fox news


        Fox news

        The race is on for better forecasting abilities, as the next peak in solar activity is expected to come around 2012.

        While the sun is in a lull now, activity can flare up at any moment, and severe space weather — how severe, nobody knows — will ramp up a year or two before the peak.

        Some scientists expect the next peak to bring more severe events than other recent peaks.

        "A catastrophic failure of commercial and government infrastructure in space and on the ground can be mitigated through raising public awareness, improving vulnerable infrastructure and developing advanced forecasting capabilities," the report states. "Without preventive actions or plans, the trend of increased dependency on modern space-weather sensitive assets could make society more vulnerable in the future."

        The report was commissioned and funded by NASA. Experts from around the world in industry, government and academia participated. It was released this week.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Life without power

          in another thread, I was asked how I dare talk about several inventions I am working on that could be in mass production before the end of the year, and I smiled knowing it was from someone that had only recently started following fuel free power supplies.

          We are coming to a critical point of history, oil companies can no longer keep up with demand, their supplies will eventually run out. Homeland security has made energy dependence in the US a national security issue, which means after 40 years of suppression of incredible inventions, now they are going to start appearing for everyone to buy.

          Back in the 50s we had vehicles on the road that traveled over 60 MPG and no it wasn't the first generation of Prius. Instead of continuing in that direction, suddenly the Muscle cars appeared... 6MPG didn't matter when gas was 20 cents a gallon.

          Over the last few years, we've had a reality check, we watched in awe as a Cat 5 Hurricane ripped towards our gulf coast oil refineries... If it hit hadn't come to shore as a 3, we would have lost a quarter of the countries oil supply for 6 months to a year.

          The oil companies could no longer look in the leaders eyes and tell them not to worry. Gas prices spiked to $5 per gallon and within a few months our whole economy tipped. people had to work and eat, and without gas they couldn't do either, mortgages started falling behind and before anyone could blink, the house of cards almost collapsed...

          Solar and Wind exploded onto the scene, state and federal incentives poured out into the economy, and that was just the beginning, oil prices plunged to $30 a barrel. People had parked their cars and were walking.

          A new era has begun, inventors like myself finally are able to come forward and start talking about how to change the future of the planet. Many countries are way ahead of the US, but we finally "got it" I'm in the final stages of creating a 25KW generator for use in people's homes. 24/7 and burns no fuel...

          do some searching and you will find amazing things showing up on the net...

          websites like these are no longer disappearing...

          http://www.free-energy-info.co.uk/index2.html

          It's time to let our kids start to study everything available, let them open their minds to find a way to save the planet, after all, it is theirs...

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