An inkling of the (hot) future — Silicon Valley’s power may be switched off tomorrow

Add the normal:

  • no rain in California in the summer;

and the new-with-global-warming normal:

  • drier grasslands and forests due to hotter temperatures;
  • stronger, extremely dry winds;

and you get extreme danger of wildfires of the type that leveled Paradise, CA, last year: 70,000 acres in 24 hours, if memory serves, and dozens of dead.

So PG&E, the local utility, has started to proactively turn off electrical power in areas where wildfire risk is above what they consider tolerable. They want to avoid another Paradise disaster: electrical sparks caused that one and that’s no surprise if everything is a tinder-dry as it is.

Santa Clara county and San Mateo county — the heart of Silicon Valley — and most other counties around them have been warned that power may be turned off tomorrow, and it may not come back on for several days.

The current map (from the Mercury News) indicates that the areas where most tech companies have their buildings may be spared, but some of the nice (and expensive) places where to live here are affected, like Saratoga or Woodside.

(I assume the rich in those areas will buy themselves generators; if not now, then next time, and one of those generators is going to start the next wildfire.)

This is the first time that the we’re getting a direct inkling of what the future will look like: things we took for granted — like electricity — will become unreliable and cause secondary effects, none of them good. Welcome to the future.