It's not the heat, or the humidity, or the three days without electricity (in the near 100 degree heat in the DC area)…
…or the constant roar of the neighbors’ generators near my house in Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside our nation’s capital, that make one crazy. Well, they kinda do, though my family and I are coping fine.
It’s the thought of our tax dollars constantly squandered on war and militarism instead of our communities’ real priorities like burying electric lines so they aren’t constantly brought down by storms like last Friday’s derecho which raged from Chicago to the Delmarva peninsula (and climate scientists are already speculating wild storms like that one are part of human-caused climate chaos) and building a smart grid.
A quick web search didn’t yield a succinct estimate on the cost of burying existing power lines in the DC area, although a generic estimate is $10 per foot, which is expensive. Yet, in the city of Washington itself, folks are generally faring better than in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, because more power lines are buried underground in DC than in the ‘burbs.
As to the cost to build a national smart grid, NPR reports that estimates range from $100 billion to $2 trillion dollars, quite a range. Whether the actual cost would be on the high or the low end, can we afford not to get started now? According to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, electrical blackouts cost the nation $80 billion dollars per year in lost business.
And, for perspective, $100 billion per year is about what we’re spending on the endless, futile war in Afghanistan. $2 trillion is about two years worth of total U.S. “national security” spending (which includes the Pentagon budget, nuclear weapons spending under the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security and other government spending supposedly aimed at making the country safer, but really most of it is projecting U.S. military power around the globe).
So yeah, these sums regarding the electrical grid are large, and we have plenty of other human and environmental needs that need to be prioritized over endless wars and weapons systems that are uneccesary (F-35 fighter jet), don’t work (Star Wars “missile defense”) or the Pentagon itself doesn’t even want (a second engine for the F-22 fighter).
So let’s turn out the lights on war and militarism, and turn ’em on at my house. Please. Soon.