“A severe thunderstorm warning was issued yesterday for residents in the southern county. While some areas will experience greater effects than others, experts suggest every household be prepared for the incoming storm. We will continue to provide updates every hour. Back to you- “
The television cut out while the room snapped into darkness. The entire house went deafeningly quiet. Anna didn’t mind much; she enjoyed the flashes of lightning and the growls of thunder. She lit the candle on the coffee table and watched its ghostly warm glow fill her gaze – you never realize how much darkness there is until you see light.
Anna turned on her phone’s flashlight and walked down into the basement. Power outages weren’t common in Anna’s area, but she knew she had to start the backup generator to keep her basement from flooding. The weather network was predicting 2 metres of rain – an amount that couldn’t be ignored.
After running through her storm prevention duties, she had no choice but to wait out the storm. While she didn’t mind watching Mother Nature go about her business, Anna was limited to the battery power on her phone and laptop with no Wi-Fi and 1GB of data if cell service was unaffected.
Wanting to preserve this energy for emergencies, Anna browsed her dust-ridden bookshelf. She picked up Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – an 864-page book she always wanted but failed to read. She nuzzled herself into the couch cushions, brought the candle into her sight, and opened to chapter one.
I took this image while I was walking past a building in Downtown Toronto. It was a completely random lightbulb illuminating nothing but its black background. Yet, I stopped to take this photo because while it was a simple composition, it makes an incredibly powerful image (no pun intended).
As someone who is fascinated by lightbulbs, light manipulation, and light sources in general, this photo reminds me of how manufactured light is a luxury.
In Canada, 100% of its population has access to energy. While Canadians still experience power outages and technical difficulties, especially in remote areas, our power and its accessibility are much less strained than in other countries. For instance, a country like Haiti, known for suffering disastrous tropical storms and earthquakes, can only provide 45.37% of its population with power.1
This comes as no surprise considering that Haiti is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the Western hemisphere; however, major (and inevitable) power outages happen in North America too.
In late August and early September, Hurricane Ida was responsible for significant power outages across Louisiana, leaving a million Americans in the dark for days. While news of Hurricane Ida winds down as the storm reaches the Atlantic, several US states will be cleaning up Ida’s destruction for months with a predicted cost upwards of $95 billion.2
Due to its dependence on natural resources and infrastructure, power is not cheap, nor is it always accessible when we want it. While it may seem novelty or annoying to be forced to unplug during a power outage, many regions across the world are threatened by a lack of restriction of energy. We can’t solve the world’s problems overnight, but we can grow our awareness of these issues and be mindful of our behaviours.3
It may seem obvious why power outages occur (i.e., severe weather, equipment failures, overloaded power grids, etc.), but these occurrences often stem back to how we treat our environment. In short, the more demand there is for energy, the more natural resources are used for energy consumption, which often leads to more carbon emissions causing environmental destruction. Even though this is an incredibly simplified statement, power outages can boil down to how our consumption contributes to climate change.
While our lifestyles are heavily integrated into energy consumption, we can make an individual effort to reduce this consumption by turning off or unplugging idle devices. It may not seem like our efforts will do any good, but you won’t know until you try. So, instead of waiting for a storm to turn the lights out, you could pick up a book and leave your electronic devices for another time.
Check out Our World in Data to learn about your country’s energy consumption.
Photo of the Week is a weekly series that showcases and elaborates on my photography, photography from my fellow creatives, and famous photographs.