"Without communications

  Forum Editor 09:35 19 Aug 2007

you can't co-ordinate helicopters or flights."

Quite apart from wondering how you cope when your home and/or town has been totally destroyed in a matter of seconds, this has brought home to me just how accustomed we have become to being able to communicate instantly, across great distances.

Without satellite technology it would take weeks to re-establish an efficient communications system in the affected areas. Mobile phones don't work because there's no power to recharge them, and without landlines there is also no internet access.

click here

  GANDALF <|:-)> 09:40 19 Aug 2007

Judging by the crass behaviour of people during the floods when shelves were emptied of bread (?) and people were 'panicking' about water shortages....I think we would be truly stuffed in a real national emergency.


  Forum Editor 09:55 19 Aug 2007

of people affected by a major earthquake does tend to put matters into perspective. Tens of thousands of people were made homeless within a few minutes, and over 500 were killed - that figure is certainly going to rise.

Apparently one of the horrible aspects of major earthquakes - and this one was no exception - is that just as people are beginning to recover from the trauma of the initial quake there is a series of aftershocks, and they cause immediate and widespread panic. Nobody knows when another shock is coming - it must stretch your nerves to breaking point.

Our recent flood experiences were bad, but at least there was some warning. With major earthquakes there's usually none - one minute everything is normal, the next it's total devastation.

  Cymro. 10:38 19 Aug 2007

Should make us all realize just how petty some of our complaints are on this forum are.

  WhiteTruckMan 10:46 19 Aug 2007

are only effective if someone is listening. Yes, the peru thing is serious, but thats all. I've seen lots worse.


  Colin 11:18 19 Aug 2007

Gandalf is right. In a real emergency we would be helpless. I think there's a saying somewhere that civilised society is 2 meals away from anarchy. You only have to start a rumour that Asda won’t have any bread deliveries for a few days and it’s pandemonium with fighting in the aisles. Don't get me started about people stockpiling at Christmas time.

  Forum Editor 11:18 19 Aug 2007

I'm well aware that there have been worse situations, and saying that "Modern communications are only effective if someone is listening." is stating the blindingly obvious.

My point - which you seem to have totally missed - was that effective communications are taken for granted nowadays, and when they are removed almost instantly - as happened in this case - the extent of our reliance on a sophisticated communications network is suddenly highlighted.

Saying "the peru thing is serious, but thats all." from the comfort of your armchair doesn't exactly demonstrate much understanding of the situation.

  anskyber 11:32 19 Aug 2007

It's an interesting point. The question we must ask ourselves is how prepared are we for a real catastrophe. I imagine not that well.

WTM,s rather glib "I've seen lots worse." is particularly disappointing, an example if you like of complacency perhaps arising from news overload. Complacency could be our enemy.

The concern surely is how far should we allow ourselves to rely seemingly completely on techno solutions. Enjoy them by all means and put them to work for us all but not to the exclusion of everything. In the forum generally we all preach the mantra of doing back ups. The truth is society appears to be allowing itself to become less robust without serious back ups to key infrastructure, oddly contrary to the course of natural evolution.

  Forum Editor 12:02 19 Aug 2007

Yes, communications technology allows us to push our boundaries in terms of how we run our societies on a daily basis. Aircraft movements are now so complex, and operating at such high volumes that a mid-air collision is only a few minutes away at any time in the skies above and around major airports. Take the sophisticated radar and radio air traffic control communications systems offline for half an hour and the result would be chaos, if not disastrous.

Knock out main power supplies in a town or city for more than a day and mobile phone communications go down - no power to recharge batteries.

Cut the fat broadband pipes and nobody has internet or email access until and unless satellite replacements are set up, and even then there is limited bandwidth - only essential services can have unrestricted use.

Each of these ways of disabling our communications systems effectively disables our society to some degree - do them all at once and we have a real problem on our hands. These vulnerabilities are the price we pay for taking our high level of sophistication for granted; in fact we're probably only ever a few days away from a major breakdown.

What's happened in Peru - hardly the world's most sophisticated country in terms of communications technology - has highlighted that vulnerability, as do all major seismological disasters. Those events are particularly threatening because of the lack of prior warning.

  DrScott 12:16 19 Aug 2007

smaller world and depend on intercommunications to exist. It's not just communications though - skills such as farming, bread making etc are no longer universal, and many countries are net importers of food. The more we depend on each other in a global sense, the more we depend on communications. It's an inevitable consequence of progress.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 13:51 19 Aug 2007

Mobile phones don't work because there's no power to recharge them

click here will recharge phones from solar power.

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