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Bruce Sterling's Viridian Design Movement


Viridian Note 00465: Civil Discord
by Bruce Sterling
Key concepts:
power outages, climate violence, civil protests, infrastructure damage, protests, Wexelblat Disasters, India, heat wave, Kerala

Attention Conservation Notice:
Not a particularly cheery set of developments.

(((I'm going to London soon to lecture on spimes, among other things. Drop on by.))) Link:

(((A "Wexelblat Disaster," named after long-time Viridian contributor Alan Wexelblat, is a disaster caused when climate violence provokes a further collapse in industrial infrastructure; for instance, a windstorm that causes people to be electrocuted by downed power lines.)))


(((Here's a new twist: people angered by a collapse in their infrastructure, who, as a method of protest, go out and deliberately sabotage some other aspect of the infrastructure. As you can see, this isn't the classic Wexelblat formulation of "Mother Nature" taking some ironic revenge, but people taking revenge for what they consider to be the misdeeds of other people occurring during a climate-violence incident.)))

(((Firing small-arms to repel a rescue helicopter might be a pretty choice example of this phenomenon – if that event wasn't, in fact, just panicky Katrina street-legendry that never actually occurred.)))

Relief workers supposedly "confront urban warfare"

"The communication breakdown without and especially within New Orleans created an information vacuum in which wild oral rumor thrived."

(((This kind of protest doesn't have to be violent; it might be done by people who understand passive resistance and Gandhian non-cooperation. A savage heat-wave is currently smiting India; the response? Take out the trains.)))


"Hit by power cuts, women block trains in Allahabad

"Kanpur: Angry over acute power crunch, about 300 women blocked trains in Allahabad on Sunday.

"The women sat on railway tracks and shouted slogans demanding quality power supply in the city. A number of trains got delayed because of the protest.

"The protestors threatened that if normal electric supplies were not resumed then they would step up their agitation.

"'We blocked the train because there is no electricity. If there is no improvement in the condition then we will block the tracks again,' Sarita a local, said.

"Allahabad city is facing huge power cuts every day.

"The current demand of Uttar Pradesh state is around 7,000-8,000 MW, while the supply is around 4,000-5,000 MW.

"To add to the woos of the people the temperature in the northern plains of the country is touching 45 degrees.

"Besides, Uttar Pradesh, several other northern states – Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, national capital Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttaranchal – are facing power shortage.

"By one estimate, peak demand in India today exceeds electricity supply by 14 percent.

"The vast Indian countryside, where more than two- thirds of the country's 1.2 billion people live, accounts for no more than 13 percent of electricity consumption while some 40 percent of the country's electricity supply is lost due to theft. (((Quite a statistic; if every thief doubled his efforts there'd be one watt in five for India's civil population.)))

"According to industry estimates, India needs an additional 100,000 MW of power in the next 10 next years with an investment of $100 billion to meet soaring demand of an expanding economy. (((The world's full of stats like this now. They truly look surreal. How much train-blocking do you think it will take to get that done?)))

"India has allowed foreign companies to invest in fully owned operations in the energy sector to overcome a peak electricity shortage of about 12.2 percent." (((Hint: in a power crunch, we'll be attacking those globalizing foreigners.)))

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