[journals] Energy Security and Me


[journals] Energy Security and Me

2 June 2016

I’ve read many time before that energy security is one of our nation’s top priorities. When I was young, my Father used to tell me that the War in Iraq was just an excuse for sending in American troops to secure access to Middle Eastern oil reserves.

It’s a strange moment when the official account of things is disputed. Even though these disputes take place in relatively credible places like academic journals and mainstream opinion columns, it’s still very easy to dismiss. It’s easier to imagine the world as a simple fight between freedom and terrorists. To consider the possibility that the Western bloc may be engaged in a morally muddled war over energy resources, is too complicated of a thought. To think that propaganda is alive and well within our own borders, is a disturbing idea. We’d rather not think about these things. Domestic discipline is not as difficult as you might think. Capitalize on their aversion to uncertainty. Spin a black and white tale with grand eagles soaring overhead and fireworks bursting with freedom. These stories are more manageable than truth, which in contrast has no clear protagonist and is rife with compromise.

On Friday, I was standing under the yellow lights of the factory office talking with J when suddenly we heard two thuds and the room instantly went black. 

To be honest I was feeling drowsy that morning and this unexpected power outage woke me up and I walked outside briskly towards the factory. 

With twenty to thirty machines running at full capacity, and around forty workers tending to these steel contraptions, I knew right away that all our machines had stopped.

The strangest moment however was when I first walked outside and at that exact moment, I saw two of our neighbors also exit. We made eye contact and yelled out confirming to each other that our power had been cut out. It was almost eery how we had emerged from our buildings like clockwork. Sal’s son, our most immediate neighbor, worriedly complained to us that he had a big order due the next morning.

H and I quickly discussed how to manage all the work in process, and we quickly formulated a temporary plan until we had a better idea of when the power would be restored. There were several pick ups that had been scheduled for that morning so we quickly decided to roll up all the garage doors and attempt to continue work under the daylight that seeped in.

I jogged back into the office and attempted to pull up Anaheim public utilities. I suddenly realized that my computer was shut down. Thankfully I had an iphone and so I used that to check the Anaheim Department’s website. The power would be back on around noon. I wanted to get a more exact update and picked up the phone set on my desk, only to remember again that just about anything that used power was out. I dialed on my cellphone and waited for twenty minutes as busy customer service agents attempted to inform and calm thousands of other frantic customers.

Later in the day after the outage fiasco had settled down, we chatted in the car on our way to lunch. The day that the big earthquake comes to California, there will be a total and instant disorder. The economic repercussions will be profound. All activity will shut down. And even more worrying, violence and looting will run rampant. I think for the first time, the seriousness of that hypothetical really sank in to my brother and I. I peered out the window and watched the thousands of cars heading to work on a few critical highways, powered by oil that comes in to our ports in daily shipments. My father asked us when we would be free to head to the local gun range. He had set his mind on buying two guns safes from Costco and filling them with a shotgun and several handguns. After the quake, all police units will be incapacitated by destroyed roadways and a flood of calls. We would be our only defense. He said this with a slightly dramatic flair, but also a genuine seriousness.

I think about the Japanese fleet journeying across the Pacific and their suicide bombers screaming over Pearl Harbor. It’s interesting to note what precise event prompted this sudden attack. The US navy had seized control of shipping channels and Japan could no longer receive fuel. Fuel lines cut, the Japanese suddenly found themselves with their backs against the wall. When we think about war, we often focus on missiles and artillery. In the background is the constant struggle to establish trucking lines and shipping routes for oil.