Taking Energy for Granted

Published on Friday, 7 February 2014 07:36:14    Written by Marc
Is it not funny how we now take our typical energy sources, say, electricity and gas for granted these days?  I mean, they have always been around.  We probably only realize this when we miss power.  I miss electricity at home once or twice a year, either when we have a snowstorm with lots of wind, or if we have a summer storm…with lots of wind.

ElectricityHowever, each time I freak out a little.  Even if it’s only for three hours, when the power comes back I go online and check to shop for a generator, but then I look at the price the installation, the place it would take somewhere outside, I sort of relax and tell myself next time.  Then six months later we miss a few hours and freak out of my mind all again.  We pay for electricity, so it is our right that we have it all the time, or so my reasoning goes.  It feels like it was always there and will never run out.

My wife is much more pragmatic than I am about such situations when they arise.  Each time she sees me rattling that we have no power, no internet, she smiles and reminds me that when she grew up on the Russian East coast (Vladivostok city to be more precise), they often missed electricity.  Forget about 3 hours; they missed it for weeks at a time.  Ever tried to take a bath by boiling water in a kettle on a gas stove?

I do not even have a kettle at home, at least not one I could put on a stove, which would not work in an electric power outage anyway because my stove is electric.  Have you ever tried cooking when both electricity and gas are missing?  "We used to go outside, light fire in cut out fuel drums, put a grill on top, and cook ‘shashlik’ (sort of meats and vegetables on a stick)," she says, "They were dozen of thousands of people doing the same thing each night, so at night you could see these thousands of small fire and the smoke coming out all over the city.  People were joking that we were living in a prehistoric way."  She says this and smiles, but I know her mind flashes back to the time and the smile brings up other emotions.

To be honest, cooking that way was fun when my father brought me out for ice fishing or camping for a day, then we were back home and mom cooked us some great dish.  So in essence, I am not at all used to cooking on fire (apart from the outdoor BBQ in the summer of course) or boiling water in order to take a bath, so for me it’s even hard to relate to my wife’s stories.  Nevertheless, I do realize how much we evolved with the arrival of reliable energy sources.  Gas, electricity and others are now so central to our lives that missing even for an hour can make us go crazy.  We wonder what we are going to do without TV or Wi-Fi.  However, we often fail to realize how lucky we are today and how precious energy really is.

Yes, new sources are found each year and yes we may one day find a way to harness renewable sources for all our needs, but it is still precious and given the choice between wasting it and saving it, whenever possible I will try to save it.  If not for the financial savings, if not to preserve the environment, if not to look green, I will still try and save it, as a race we’ve come so far already and we are so lucky compared to other times and places, this is enough a reason for me, so my reason is: simply because.

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