Powering the Walking Dead

February 3, 2017 / Dan Gent, Canadian Electricity Association

February 12th, 2017 is fast approaching.

You might be saying to yourself, “February 12th, so what?” This year, in my household, February 12th holds a higher priority then February 14th. And here is why.

Imagine a time where there was no electricity.

Often we might jump into the old west or medieval times, into a film like Robin Hood or Tombstone, or a TV series like “Little House on the Prairie”. We know what life is like without electricity, because it is recorded in the annals of history. Because humans were a tough lot and made due without it for thousands upon thousands of years. But can we do it again?

If human civilization can do it again (survive without electricity), we need to look at the “what if” scenarios. Apocalyptic earth offers a modest glimpse of what it might look like.

On February 12th, we get to continue our indulgence of watching a small group of people that has for several seasons made their way through the world without money, with very few resources, and for the most part – without electricity, all the while avoiding the thousands upon thousands of zombies eager to feast on their entrails. This is The Walking Dead!

The show features a group of people, currently led by Rick Grimes (always in flux – due to the worldly dangers they face), who survive in a world that for 2-3 years has been primarily without electricity.  They purify water by boiling it (at the farm). They cook and prepare food (squirrels) over fires. They have fences, walls and trenches as defenses against the undead (Woodbury Jail). They have no internet, movies, or TV. And they have non-existent medical treatment.  It is tough living.

Recently, our group of heroes found communities that have electricity. They use generators to power what electric supply they have. In some instances, it is rationed (no comment about the longevity of gasoline and other fuels here). Electricity is an indulgence. When our group of zombie slayers made their way into a safe haven, called Alexandria, a young Carl Grimes said that its inhabitants were ‘soft’. They had electricity supplied through solar panels. They cooked casseroles and had street lights and video games and fridges.

So, I ask: does electricity make us ‘soft’?

I would say no. Electricity has offered us so much, from entertainment to health care, from communications to manufacturing, from food preparation to exploration. It has offered us opportunities to expand our horizons on countless avenues.

In The Walking Dead, your mentality and complacency makes you soft.  Our group of heroes are about to take on their biggest antagonist yet, and now that­­ electricity is available, it will make their lives easier as they face this bigger challenge. I am certain that the human race could survive without electricity, but it would be very difficult – life expectancy would drop, foodborne illness would rise, and proper medical treatment would be questionable. All things to think about!

 

So for now, my zombie slaying kit sits empty next to my soft chair, as I prepare for my viewing indulgence – provided to me by electricity.