Thursday, 14 November 2019

Preppers... Not so Silly Now?

The "Prepper" or "Bugout" community in the USA have had a bit of a reputation of being nerdy, redneck or just plain weird, but times they are a changin'.

The Chaos in California has highlighted a few issues regarding civilisation and what happens when large areas of a country are without power.

The power outages in California were supposed to ( not that successfully) prevent forest fires caused by lack of maintenance of the power grid in the hilly areas of the state.

The problem being that the trees haven't been cut away from power lines and in windy conditions they touch the power lines causing shorts and sparking, initiating fires. To stop this huge areas of California were switched off. I mean many as 3 million people were without power.

Only one death was reported as being caused by the power outage, but it's a lesson that needs to be learned, as we move away from the solid foundation of fossil-fuelled power to the uncertainty of renewable power generation backed up by gas-powered generators fuelled by foreign (Russian) gas.

Because I can easily foresee a scenario where we have a very cold high pressure system over the UK so there is no wind power. So we turn on the gas generators and then for whatever reason Russia starts to hike up the cost of gas as demand in Europe rises... to a degree that the energy companies can't or won't pay, so the gas taps get shut off.

It's not immediately obvious what sort of issues when a thousand square miles or more are without power.

No electricity means no working boiler (even gas boilers need electricity to work).

No electricity means no fuel pumped at petrol stations.

So no fuel for your car and no fuel for buses or other diesel powered transport.

No electricity means no trains.

No electricity means no communications, especially cell phones. But also the emergency services would soon be without communications as the backup systems at the communications towers begin to run out of fuel.

No electricity in the longer term means no healthcare. Certainly GP surgeries will cease to function immediately as they don't have emergency power supplies. Those parts of the NHS that do can only run them for a finite amount of time, not days on end.

No streetlamps and no power for alarm systems means more crime. So start sharpening that pointy stick as it's the only weapon you are allowed in the UK. Well, you can always say it's a stake for the garden, not a weapon because you're not allowed them any more.

One thing that does come to mind is: could you drive 50 miles to get fuel for your car? Do you have enough fuel tanks able to hold enough reserves to run a generator for days? Do you even own a generator?

Can you drive that same 50 miles to get food? Because without power, there are no fridges and there's no point delivering fresh, frozen or chilled products.

Do you have a number of days of reserve food stored so you can cope without shopping? Does that food have a long shelf life? If it doesn't has it been renewed recently?

These are questions we have to start asking as the power outage in California is a good indication on what the future could be like if large swathes of the country lose power. It makes interesting reading as there are a few surprises.

Luckily I own a generator for use on my boat and a second one in parts for spares, where there is no mains power. The ideal would be running the generator to a backup battery and then to an invertor for mains power to the central heating boiler and possibly the fridge. The only thing I don't possess in that circuit is the invertor. Something that will be addressed in future.

For communications, I have access to a couple of old CB radios (don't scoff!) that can at least transmit over a decent distance. I also have my old radio ham gear if I want to transmit over a wider range or in a more official capacity. I can power them off a car battery. If you have any of these, do get familiar with them again.

If the worst comes to the worst, I have a sailing boat and can leave the UK behind for sunnier shores. Being a small boat that would be a bit extreme, but it could be done if absolutely necessary. If I need anything bigger (say, to take the whole family) then that could cause a problem. But I do have the skills if necessary to pilot a boat to elsewhere.

It seems to me now,  the risk of the same scenario as California happening in another first world country has increased. The issue is only going to get more widespread as our so-called leaders make decisions which are not in the strategic interest of our countries and instead pander to small environmental interest groups and big corporations. At the end of the day it's Government's job to work with people and reduce costs for the country. But there comes a time when strategic interest and planning overrides environmental virtue signalling.

However, given that state of leadership in Western countries, it would be wise to start to prepare. At least keep a few tins of food in the cupboard to last you 2 - 7 days, to allow for the government and the electricity companies to sort the issue out if they can.

But certainly have a plan for a longer term outage just in case.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Nigel Farage Does the Right thing, Meanwhile, UKIP implodes.

Nigel Farage has stated he won't contest the 300-odd seats held by the Conservatives at the last election. and will instead concentrate on the Labour and Lib Dem seats.

This is a great move from a Conservative perspective, but I'm not sure whether the move will go down well in the Labour heartlands. mainly because Northern Labour candidates can brush the Brexit Party as the Faux Tory party.

Nigel now has to push an agenda and policy that differentiates him from the Tories and also dispels some of the myths about Brexit Party policy, especially regarding immigration, the NHS and benefits.

It's just not enough to shout Brexit and think you can get MPs into seats. Nigel has to start pushing policies.

With the right tactics, the Brexit Party can win a few seats in the North and hold the balance of power in Westminster. And this is what Nigel should be aiming for, as well as explaining to people the advantages of having a few TBP MPs in parliament. Mainly to supress the remain tendency in the Labour Party and Parliament as a whole at bay.

He should be out in the Media reminding the 17.4 million people and the 60-70% pro-Brexit margin in Northern constituencies how they have not just been ignored by their Labour MPs, but their MPs have actively voted against their wishes.

Hopefully with the right strategy, TBP can gain seats. The news this week of them not contesting Conservative seats is a step in the right direction. It's a shame though they didn't at least go up against any pro-remain voting Tories still in place and contesting seats.

In other news, it looks like UKIP is in it's final death throes. My local constituency group have called an EGM with the agenda of voting no confidence in the NEC and the Chairman. My local constituency Chairman has resigned in disgust at the antics of the UKIP NEC. UKIP party rules means that a significant number of constituencies calling for an EGM automatically triggers a national EGM and the automatic disbandment of the UKIP NEC. But I think that the UKIP NEC will hold on and refuse to go, against the wishes of the party members. It seems to be a trend in Politics these days. ;-)

To be honest, UKIP is as close to dead in the water as can be. No-one will go for leadership while they can't lead. Without a leader and with a membership at odds with the NEC and with the NEC and Chairman failing to realise they are killing the party, I'm convinced that if it doesn't fold up by the end of this year, by the end of 2020 UKIP will be no more.

It's a sad ending for a party that forced UK politics to change direction, won a huge victory and got 17.4 million people to vote to leave the EU and win the referendum.

It's a shame that those in the UKIP NEC could not work for the good of the party and not self-inflated ego. That they could not see what they were doing to the party, after successive leaders came an went. That the NEC were the problem and not the solution.