On both Any Questions and Any Answers on BBC4 this weekend there was discussion about the Boy David's visit to Ruanda, leaving his constitutents flooded with dilute raw sewage to fend for themselves.
His visit to this poor benighted country was instructive to us all in the UK, as probably only 10% - 20% of the population probably have access such a thing as clean, potable running water and only probably 5% with mains electricity.
So not much different at home then.
The TV coverage was also instructive - half way through his turgid speech to the partly attended Ruandan Parliament , the lights went out.
Which was a fate missed by inches of foul floodwater at a major (unmanned) National Grid (EON ?) Power switching station at Walham in Gloucestershire (pic).
"Around 1.6 billion people around the world live with no electricity"Kofi Annan. UN Sec. Gnl. May 11th 2006 New York . UN Commission on Sustainable Development
There was something delightfully primitive that the miracle of electricity was saved for some 600,000 consumers, including GCHQ and it's spooks and the (don't mention under threat of 'D' Notice Oldbury on Severn Power Station - an antique Magnox site opened in 1967 and due to shut in 2008) by schoolboys dressed as soldiers manually filling and carrying sandbags to keep God's Acts at bay and civilisation just hangin in there..
It was a scene that might have been transported from the period when the pyramids were built - and it highlighted the execrable (or almost absence of) of national planning for energy security... 600.000 plus businesses, etc and a few sandbags between a third world existence and a pluralist libertarian participatory Jeffersonian Democracy.
It remains to be seen how 350,000 people / industry react to absence of potable running water, for toilets, showers, baths for a couple of weeks ... combined with total electrical power loss the consequences are difficult to imagine in terms of social order and well being.
Toiling in the Dark: Africa’s Power Crisis NYT today
See Lord Patel Monday Jan 8th 2007
"Rolling blackouts blanketed parts of South Africa in January, and sporadic power failures have persisted since as the SA State Monopoly Eskom struggles to meet surging demand."
An essential primer for the UK is available at The Oil Drum UK " UK Energy Security" by Euan Mearns.
"Out of the Energy Labyrinth" by David Howell (nee Lord Howell of Guildford 1980's Tory Min of Energy) and Carole Nakhle is also recommended . Published June 2007 ISBN 978 1 84511 538 8 Pub I B Tauris.204 pp Approx £10 Paperback Amazon and also under TESCO non Food Online as "Entertainment" !!.
Pic extracted from superb shot by samfurlong, go here for complete and stunning shot. Note how the engineers made sure the road was elevated.