I'm an engineer - matter of fact, I'm an ELECTRICAL engineer - so one of the FIRST things I'd be looking to do is to TURN IT BACK ON! There has been idle and not-so-idle chatter about what would happen in response to EMP - Electro-Magnetic Pulse, which can damage or destroy some electrical systems. The fact remains that there are electrical systems which would not be severely impacted, and sophisticated electrical circuitry which is more vulnerable can be hardened against EMP.
I note with slightly amused interest that there is a new show this fall on US television about what might happen if the power were somehow turned off permanently. Sorry, no such thing as "permanent" in this instance. The laws of physics remain, and so long as they do, I intend to USE THEM.
Please fix the power Loren - what will I do without the Internet and the Nexus? Or video games?
Maybe have to rely on Solar energy.
Read a book by the light of the candles and oil lamps that I have. Eat the preserved food, cooked over a wood fire, that I have personally canned. And, patiently wait for people like Loren to turn the electricity back on.
My house has neither plumbing nor heat, and the only reason that it has electricity is because I use it to make my living. I suppose I could try re-training my old brain to draw with a pencil again. Once after a hurricane power was out in our neighborhood for three weeks, and I rather enjoyed it. People were visiting neighbors, reading books, making babies, and sitting on porches playing guitars. I'm really not a Luddite, but I prefer to keep dependance on technology in perspective.
Get solar panels which I should do anyway.
Good point, Lillie. A solar panel/battery system connected to low demand electric appliances would do the trick. But I don't see computers, routers, and big screen TV's powered this way. The problem, of course, is that we aren't independent. We depend on power for refrigerated groceries and for medical services, for water treatment and pressure. Even my sump pump, working away at this moment to keep the basement dry, would run out of battery power in a few hours. It's all very scary.
If it were just the electrical grid that is gone,
I would not miss the internet, but I would miss music.
Otherwise, my life . . . . not much change at all.
Like Steph S.-- probably spend some money on photo volt stuff.
And you go, Loren.
It depends how it were to happen. If power lines went down, I'd be looking for people like my late father - who once strung lines for the REA "Rural Electrification Administration" - to put them back up. In case of something like a major storm, this could take days, weeks, or even months. If the grid went down or the like, I'd be looking for people like Loren to fix it - or fix the items that an EMT pulse damaged if they were not sufficiently "hardened" to shield against such things.
In another scenario, it would be possible that there would be fewer power plants online. The first ones to go might be the ones powered by natural gas, if there were to be supply disruptions or if the price got too high. Most of the power comes from coal, which will last at least a few more decades. A good bit of power comes from hydroelectric, and I suppose in the event of a severe and sustained drought, those could stop generating power - although in such an event, we would have much more pressing problems than power - namely drinking water and food. Some of our power comes from such things as wind turbines, which would continue to operate. Nuclear plants will continue running for quite some time with no further fuel. Power generation will not go away quickly.
In any event, there would be some serious problems if the power went out for a sustained period - even locally. For one thing, all of our refrigerated and frozen food would be spoiled in a couple of days. For another, our indoor climate systems - most especially air conditioning and electrical heat - would not keep us cool or warm. Even in the case of gas or oil furnaces, if we use furnace blowers to distribute that heat throughout the house - making said furnace unworkable. In winter, that would lead to other serious problems, such as water or sewer pipes bursting. This wouldn't be as big of a problem as it sounds, since municipal water systems and wells require electricity to operate. Natural gas, as opposed to "bottle gas" or propane, would cease to operate too as there would be no provision to pump it and keep up the pressure. You'd run out of oil or propane, with no provision to get any more. Staying warm would be a problem. If you had a woodstove or fireplace, you might be able to stay warm using local wood or other combustables.
Assuming that the electrical systems in cars still worked, you could drive your car (and listen to the radio or CD player if you wanted) to get to an area with power - at least until the local problem was fixed. If the nearest gasoline station with power were beyond the driving range of your car, you would not be able to purchase gas, because gas pumps work on electricity. You'd need to take enough gas in gas cans (yours, or any others you could obtain from neighbors - some of whom might ride with you).
The backbone of the internet - everything from the wiring coming to your house or business, the router, the ISP, and the other internet hubs and end-users - also run on electricity. The internet would be gone, gone, if the power went out globally and permanently - even as unlikely as that would be to happen in the short term.
Banks primarily work via electronics these days. It would be at the very least cumbersome to do anything from cash a check to deposit a check into the bank. Electronic funds transfers would not work, so if you are being paid via electronic funds transfer - especially from a non-local source, you would not have access to your money. Forget ATMs.
Much of what you would need to buy or sell you would need to do by barter. That would be more workable in some areas than others.
In the mean time, we could read about things that interest us in books. If you run out of them, your local library has quite a few, many of which are on topics that interest you. Or, spend time with local friends or family, including one's significant other. Without television and video games to distract us, we would find we had a lot more time to spend with one another. If the outage were to be everywhere, so going somewhere else would not help, you could work on putting together a better community and to improve what was there.
News would be hard to come by. There would be no internet, TV, or radio news sources if the outage were extensive. Even telegraph would not work, nor would such things as amateur radio. We would have to rely on accounts from people travelling through - on foot or horseback. Diesel trains would have trouble being fuelled, but they probably could be - for awhile anyway.
You're not kidding that "there would be some serious problems if the power went out for a sustained period". Not only do nuclear power plants only have a two week supply of fuel for backup cooling generators, chemical plants also depend on power for keeping hazardous and toxic chemicals in safe storage. We don't even think about chemical storage, we take it's safety for granted. The country would be littered by radioactive meltdowns and chemical disasters within a few weeks. There are seven chemical plants near me
What would happen without people to maintain it is devastating!
The History Channel came up with a series "Life After People", exploring what would happen in lots of ways if humans just somehow vanished. These are available on Youtube.
There are also TONS of buried chemical wastes, buried in containers which will last somewhere between decades and centuries, depending on the specifics of the chemical, which we have produced as a byproduct of making something else, which we do not know how to destroy or dispose of safely, but buried it hoping that someone in the future figures it out.
It's the same with nuclear wastes. As yet, there are no long-term storage sites for spent nuclear fuel rods - that was what the proposed Yucca Mountain site was to do, but there have been too many political and environmental issues with setting it up. So, instead, nuclear plants keep them in pools under at least 20 feet of refrigerated water. The pools were designed to store the used fuel rods for a few months, but as there's no long-term facility, many of them have been there for years, and plants have had to create more such pools. If the refrigerators go out, these rods heat up - at a heat level where they catch fire after rapidly boiling the water out of their pool. This is one reason that Fukushima caught fire. If there are a lot of them together, they may go critical.
If the nuclear power plant could produce power for its own use, the rods would be safe for a few months or a couple of years. When the reactor stopped producing electricity for the plant's own use, there would be a melt down. Multiply that by all of the reactors on earth and the result would be a disaster above any scale we've ever seen.
I hope that you have some sort of backup option. About a year and a half ago, while trying to fix up my previous house in Oklahoma before selling it, the town was hit by a tornado, and the power was off for 3 days - which spoiled all of the food in the refrigerator, and thawed everything in the freezer.
It's one thing to work out ways of getting electrical power back, and quite another to consider not having the ability to exploit electricity as an option. Thought experiment:
Imagine that something catastrophic happened -- say a devastating thermonuclear event that collapsed existing infrastructure and wiped out most of the minds adept at understanding and rebuilding it. We'd be in about the same place with material technology that we were a mere couple of hundred years ago, but without the skilled, smart people to move us forward. They do, after all, tend to congregate in likely target spots.
We would still have exploitable (if less readily) coal and oil energy (and thus steel) to allow the smart-ish & aggressive types to once again colonize those less agressive or a bit slower on the uptake. Information transfer would slow to a crawl, further enhancing aggressionist advantage even without the tool of Fox News. The immunosuppressive advantage enjoyed by western Europeans 500 years ago is gone, and knowlege of food diversity is more widespread; so the political power structure in rebuilt societies would likely be more even. It might even be a world without a superpower!