American society fully reflects on the disaster situation in Texas: poor infrastructure, low efficiency, and popular “dumping”
North America Observation丨The American community fully reflects on the Texas disaster: poor infrastructure and low efficiency are still popular for “sweeping the pot”
Texas, the United States, has been hit by a rare snowstorm recently, and the victims have been cut off from water and electricity. Completely improved. With the continuous spread of disaster pictures and casualties, American society also began to reflect: What is wrong with the United States?
Public opinion believes that a series of issues from infrastructure and disaster relief systems to climate change and the gap between rich and poor are inseparable from the disaster. If the United States cannot make timely adjustments, it will face the next sudden change. In the event of a disaster, its vulnerability will be highlighted again.
△Reuters questioned why one Can the foreseeable cold current paralyze the state grid? Infrastructural ills Texas recently experienced the deadliest cold weather in 30 years. Damage to power generation facilities caused millions of people to suffer from power outages in the severe cold. In addition, more than 10 million Texas residents are facing water supply problems due to the freezing of the water supply system.
Texas officials stated that they strive to provide bottled water and generators to those in need as soon as possible. But officials also admit that they cannot provide a timetable for the restoration of full water supply, because it depends on the local water supplier, and many units have not yet fully assessed the damage to their water supply system. At the same time, due to the freezing and cracking of water pipes in many places in Texas, the supply of local plumbers is in short supply, so emergency support from other plumbers is needed.
Although the temperature has picked up in recent days, the National Weather Service warned that there will still be blizzards in the eastern United States, which is expected to bring heavy snow, freezing rain and freezing weather, which will bring residents to travel Dangers and inconveniences, power outages may occur again. US President Biden has declared that Texas has entered a state of major disaster. Given that Texas is not the only disaster area, about 70 people have died in winter storms across the United States. The White House dare not neglect, and is closely monitoring the situation in each state.
At this point of the disaster, the U.S. government and the private sector are both reflecting on the infrastructure problems exposed by the disaster, including: independent power grid systems that are fighting each other, unable to obtain support from other states in emergency situations; The demand for domestic natural gas has increased sharply, the fuel supply of gas-fired power plants is obviously short, and the mass use of electric heating appliances has caused the load to rise rapidly; some units are in a state of overhaul, unable to generate power in parallel, and the fans in Texas are not equipped with deicing Installation, gas-fired unit also did not adopt dual-fuel design.
The Wall Street Journal analyzed that if the power supply facilities in Texas are equipped with anti-cold devices like other areas, it can avoid the problem of collective paralysis in a short time. The core problem behind it is that related companies have never Investment plan-to deal with the situation of power generation under freezing. Power supply companies have already rushed to cut prices. Expanding investment will have to increase prices to weaken competitiveness. It is not in the interest of capital to spend a lot of money for the occasional severe cold.
Due to the lack of profit motives, American companies are unwilling to invest in the upgrade and transformation of power grid infrastructure, resulting in a very prominent problem of equipment aging. According to incomplete statistics, 70% of transmission lines and power transformers in the United States have been in operation for more than 25 years, and many equipment are at their operating limits and may collapse at any time. In fact, Texas, which is rich in oil and natural gas resources, is the region with the highest degree of power liberalization and private involvement in the United States. Texas politics has always been proud of the economic efficiency brought about by free competition in the power system. This time the problem has been exposed. The state’s concept of free competition has been questioned.
In addition, Texas (including some other states of course) does not consider the impact of extreme weather on load demand, fuel supply, and equipment operation in the power system planning. Without adequate preparation, emergencies such as extreme weather, cyber attacks, and terrorist attacks can often have a huge impact on the power system, triggering an unpredictable chain reaction.
△”The Atlantic Monthly” said, Texas The reason for the failure was its lack of planning and inefficient disaster relief. According to the Wall Street Journal, the continuous severe cold weather in Texas and other states in the United States caused losses to homes and businesses equivalent to a major hurricane, and property insurance companies estimate that Pay 18 billion dollars in compensation. If the insurance industry finally reaches 18 billion U.S. dollars in claims, this winter storm will become one of the 10 largest natural disasters in the United States based on the loss of property insurance companies, fully exposing the problems of the US disaster relief model.
First of all, during the disaster, the “decentralization” of the emergency and disaster relief system in the United States became prominent, which was reflected in the stubborn disease of the power grid system behind the energy crisis-the difficulty of dispatching between power companies Great, coupled with the “self-contained” power system in Texas, the state cannot get support from other states when it faces a power shortage. In the process of helping the people affected by the disaster, “decentralization” means that there is a lack of unified coordination and the ineffective use of resources. Take the urgently needed plumbers in the disaster area as an example. Many workers are very busy, while others have not received assistance at all. Request, resulting in idle resources.
Secondly, there is a lack of emergency response plans for disaster relief, and the response measures are full of loopholes. The government lacks overall design and organization is chaotic. As a result, individuals rely on themselves for self-help. In addition to the disaster caused by this extreme storm, this problem has also appeared many times in the past. For example, during the California Mountain Fire, due to the shortage of disaster relief resources, the government had to send prisoners to participate in the fire fighting, which caused an uproar in public opinion. Not only that, the federal government, state governments, and local governments often blame each other and delay the time for disaster relief. There are even politicians who claim that focusing on disaster relief is a “socialist approach,” putting ideology before people’s lives and property, which has attracted widespread criticism.
Analysis believes that the biggest hidden dangers of the United States’ federal and state decentralization and state government-based disaster relief system are cumbersome procedures, poor execution, and lack of coordination. Not only is there no official responsible for the overall responsibility , The mutual wrangling between the federal and state governments often leads to the phenomenon of “flicking the pot”, resulting in insufficient preparation before the disaster, poor response during the disaster, and slow rescue after the disaster, ultimately causing huge losses.
And like Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who left Houston during the disaster and took his family to vacation on the warm Mexican beach. This has also happened in past disasters. Although Cruz has already apologized for this and ended his vacation early and returned to the United States, he cannot quell outside criticism of politicians’ inaction. Although Cruz is not an administrative official who needs to be directly responsible, his pressure has undoubtedly highlighted the dissatisfaction of public opinion with politicians.
△CNBC said that the state of Texas power outage indicated The vulnerability of power grids to climate change The acceleration of climate change is fundamental. The current series of natural and man-made disasters are inseparable from the extreme weather brought about by global climate change. In order to deal with more serious disasters in the future, mankind must rely on green energy. However, in Texas politics, which has always been pro-traditional energy industry, some voices blamed the disaster on new energy sources, triggering public criticism.
According to the “Washington Post” report, as a Republican, Texas Governor Abbott took advantage of the disaster to point the finger at the clean energy system supported by the Biden government, claiming that the wind and solar shutdowns were caused by The reason for the lack of electricity in the state shows that “fossil fuels are necessary”. Abbott’s remarks were endorsed by many conservatives in American politics. But the state’s energy department concluded that it is different. The situation shows that the power loss mainly comes from the power generation system’s inability to cope with the extreme cold weather.
In an interview with CNN, Microsoft founder Bill Gates said that the Texas power grid was paralyzed due to extreme weather and caused deaths. This tragedy could have been prevented. Regarding the Governor of Texas’s attack on new energy, Gates responded that the United States’ reliance on renewable energy is not high enough to worry about its stability. The so-called too much reliance on renewable energy is not the source of the problem, but mainly because Natural gas power plants cannot withstand severe weather. They should have been strengthened so that they can withstand the cold winter, but because it costs a lot of money, there will be trade-offs and compromises, which will eventually lead to tragedy and cause death.
Gates pointed out that climate change is the root cause of extreme weather. In order to deal with more serious disasters, we must rely on green energy in the future, and it is absurd to criticize renewable energy. The Economist magazine also stated that the problem is not that Texas has too much renewable energy. The state’s situation shows that the United States needs a cleaner and more reliable power grid. “It’s time to take ambitious measures to combat climate change. Up”.
△CNN said that the disaster situation in Texas is The outbreak of a “dumping war” between the rich and the poor highlighted the Texas winter storm and further highlighted the issue of the gap between the rich and the poor in the United States. Just as millions of residents in Texas are suffering from power outages, some luxury housing areas are brightly lit. Large villas and high-end hotels together form a bright skyline, which is in sharp contrast with the darkness of working-class and colored residential areas. It can be called “two worlds”.
According to local reports, many affluent communities in downtown Austin, Texas have never had electricity, while the eastern communities, which are home to more low-income residents and people of color, have been without electricity for several days. This shows the huge gap between downtown Austin and East Austin-East Austin is dominated by African-American and Hispanic communities.
For this, the local energy department has different interpretations. For example, there are many important infrastructures in the city center, including hospitals, government buildings, etc., which need to ensure power supply. But this did not calm people’s anger. Public opinion believed that the disaster had exposed the serious inadequacy of the protection of vulnerable groups in the United States, and some politicians even showed extreme disregard. For example, Tim Boyd, the mayor of Colorado, Texas, posted on social media: “We don’t owe you and your family anything. The local government’s responsibility is not to help you in such difficult times!” He also said. Said, “Only the fittest can survive, and the weak can only be eliminated.”
The extreme individualism and ignorance of disadvantaged groups exposed by these remarks also have a certain market in American society and are packaged as the concept of “self-helpers and gods” for sale, but they simply ignore generational poverty, Unfair issues such as ethnic weakness and class consolidation have aroused fierce public outrage. Some netizens said that perhaps in the eyes of the mayor, the electricity and water bills paid by people are a kind of charity, and those who cannot “self-help” due to physical disability and other issues are also what they deserve? (CCTV reporter Gu Xiang)