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Would You Expect a 100 Year Old Anything To Work Flawlessly?

June 16, 2013

This video comes from the website of the American Society of Civil Engineers and can be found at This group classifies the health of some key systems our modern society relies on in a familiar, easy to understand format we all know, grades. I can remember one year in high school coming home with some marks that weren’t so hot. If I remember correctly, it was the second semester of my sophomore year and I earned one B, three C’s, a D, and an F. I remember feeling humiliated and very determined to get things back together as my dad screamed at me from across the room. Just to put it in perspective, it was high school, and I lived on to fight another day. What grade do you think our infrastructure received from the ASCE?

Shockingly, and for the third year in a row that I’ve been keeping track we have declined again to a D+. How can this be? How can the greatest super power on the planet with the F-22 Raptor, the Apache helicopter, nukes, tanks, and funding for wars a half a world away be in this state of disrepair? How does the “leader” in the global digital based economy allow the very fuel for its operation and survival to fall into a state of decline? It’s pretty unbelievable, but seeing is believing. Like most of our pressing issues in this country, people in power are aware of this and nothing forward is happening.

You would figure that focusing on the power grid would be of major interest to those running the show as it is the very breath of any business they tax. I was shocked to hear that there are parts of the system on the East coast that were literally built in the 1890’s! There was a great quote from one of the engineers in the clip that sums up the importance of getting our shit together. He said, “If you lose the internet your at 1979, when you lose power you’re at 1879.”

The fact is that we have become more and more dependent on the grid as our economy has gone digital. We are constantly adding stresses and strains in the form of economic growth and there is nothing that can change that. The more we modernize, the more gadgets we like to enjoy, the more we need to update and modernize the arteries and veins that pump our energy around. Between now and 2040-2050 the ASCE recommends that we replace nearly our entire grid. Currently, that would mean a total upgrade or replacement of nearly 17,000 miles of circuitry. Every wind farm, every solar project, and basically everything “green” that politicians like to site as progress will be essentially useless if we don’t fix the way the energy is transferred not gathered. Let’s see how long it takes them, it will probably require some form of crisis to turn the ship around.

At least these don't run on power.

At least these don’t run on power.


One Comment
  1. For sure we’ll need a crisis, How else do we know when to do anything?
    As for the D+ grade. ..
    Remember, D’s get degrees!

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