Why Was Texas So Vulnerable To The Recent Freeze?

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by Chris Martenson, Peak Prosperity:

Greed & short-sightedness

The point of being resilient is to be able to weather life’s storms, metaphorically and literally.

Yet the state of Texas recently failed at handling a few days of cold temperatures. Big time.

Poorly-insulated houses exploded, more or less, when their pipes burst and the resulting water flows easily brought down ceilings and walls:

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burst pipes

This happened to so many homes that water pressure dropped below critical levels and entire communities suddenly lost their access to water.

So why was Texas so vulnerable?

Sure, the temperatures were far colder than the state normally experiences. But the real culprits here are the same ones that will sink our future in other areas: greed and short-sightedness.

By skimping on insulation a house can be made more cheaply. Hence the greed. By skimping on insulation, the future is sacrificed (because these homes will require massively more energy to heat and cool over their lifetimes). Hence the shortsightedness.

It’s really not all that hard or much more expensive to deeply insulate a home — say to “R40/R60”, meaning an R-rating of 40 in the walls and 60 in the ceilings. By doing this a few more dollars are spent up front, but then many multiples of those dollars are saved over time, which is to say nothing of the preservation of the future energy BTUs that won’t be wasted.

In many ways Texas’ experience with the cold snap is a huge object lesson in how the future is going to (continue to) unfold.

Common home construction practices reveal a profound disregard for the future. Wouldn’t a more mature culture somehow manage to build homes that can withstand a few days of cold temperatures? And if that were done, wouldn’t it also be true that those same homes would also be more efficiently cooled during the hot days, too?

The only reasons you might fail to insulate properly is because, well, you simply are operating under the false assumption that the future will be more or less exactly the same as the present. That the climate will remain stable and that sufficient energy will always be there to heat and cool our homes.

These are two very awful assumptions, each easily proven to be illogical and erroneous.

A Systematic Nightmare

One thing the Texas cold snap laid bare was just how unprepared its electrical and energy distribution systems were for this event.

Natural gas pipelines with too much water vapor in them froze solid cutting off gas supplies to electrical generating stations. The further loss of nearly all the wind generation and solar inputs further starved the system of needed juice. The entire system very nearly crashed, forcing the utilities to turn to rolling blackouts to compensate.

These, in turn, were (predictably) often executed in a manner that betrayed the poor and favored money:

Lit-Up Downtown Skylines Are Enraging Powerless Texans

Feb 17, 2021

As night fell over the state on Tuesday, local leaders urged residents to do their part to reduce strain on the grid, describing a dire situation that was only getting worse. Texans whose lights and heat were still on were asked to live as if they weren’t, and to set their thermostats even lower. That’s sound advice. We all need to do our part—those who’ve been collecting the water dripping out of their faucets to prevent a freeze may have noted how quickly drops accumulate in a bucket—but individual effort didn’t get us into this crisis, and it’s not enough to get us out.

That brings us to the crux of the problem: While many Texans are suffering, it seems like the sacrifices are unevenly distributed. Indeed, Texans on social media have kept warm by burning the fuel of white-hot rage as photos circulated on Sunday and Monday nights of brightly lit city skylines. The illuminated parking garages and glowing, empty high-rises towering over cities were taken as a slap in the face by residents shivering in dark homes or dropping the thermostat another degree in order to save a marginal amount of energy.

Of course it’s a very difficult thing to figure out how to cut power to major cities because it often has to be done in giant contiguous areas, not building by building.

Any block with a hospital on it cannot have its power cut. The same is true for areas with other emergency services such as 911 call centers or the pump stations supplying water.

But even with that, the residents of Texas noted there was a striking disparity between wealthier neigborhoods and poorer ones:

Texas power outages during freeze

This is a ‘tell’ about how the future will unfold. It’s wrapped into the Great Reset narrative. It’s also how nearly all of history has unfolded. The elites seem to skate by with few real sacrifices while the majority of the burdens and pains are borne by the lower classes. Same as it ever was.

Another telling moment was in the shocking prices for electrical service that were billed out to customers.

Electricity, priced in an open and mostly deregulated market in Texas, shot from a few cents per kilowatt hour to $9,000.00 per kilowatt hour at the peak.

Some say this was the market working as intended. A moment of severe supply constraints forced prices to adjust higher, thereby causing consumers to self-ration. However, because the price spikes happened in real time and bills are sent out monthly, this ‘explanation’ isn’t really all that satisfactory. Sending some poor retiree a $16,000 monthly electricity bill two weeks after the event has no effect on supply/demand at the decision point when it might have mattered.

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