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Thinking ahead: second order impacts?

With the realization that there is still a lot of uncertainty (both with the trajectory of the virus and people’s behaviors towards it) I’m curious what types of second order impacts (or third/fourth order impacts, at this point) might be in store for us.

For example: if stay at home orders persist, or people’s choices leave them at home (voluntary telework, etc.) more this summer – presumably everyone will be running their A/C on hot days, rather than leaving it off while at work.  Would that increase the strain on the electrical grid as compared to “normal” conditions and thereby increase the odds of rolling brownouts, etc?

At this point its all speculative (maybe people will spend more time outside instead?) just thinking out loud.  Any other medium-term impacts on the horizon?  Doesn’t have to be doom and gloom (I’m eating better/healthier, saving money, and fairly happy with my at-home haircuts, would be glad to maintain some of these new habits!).

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  • Comments (23)

    • 2

      hadn’t thought about people using more ac this summer. and not to run down the climate rabbit hole but it’s not like it’s going to be any cooler anywhere. so you have a good point. i think the results from texas and other states will be a sort of test to see if it was too early. i already saw a headline about a spike over there. so if it’s a real bad idea based on numbers, maybe more people will stay in? and then there’s your ac issue. hard to say

    • 5

      I don’t have data behind it, but it seems like the grid load from ACs might be down this summer, since larger work spaces tend to be massive and inefficient culprits for AC loads in normal times.

      Happy to see the average personal savings rate has gone up. US society sucks at saving, so hopefully that continues.

      I’m curious to see how undergraduate programs shake out after all of this. It was already on an unsustainable path (eg. crazy tuition growth over recent decades), and students/customers are already pushing back (even suing). Maybe it’ll be a catalyst for positive change in the higher education system.

      Another positive will be the growth in telemedicine, something that has needed to happen but faced headwinds due to older practitioners who didn’t want to transition to Electronic Medical Records, etc.

      • 6

        Even better re: post-secondary education would be the resurgence of and increased respect for tradecraft and (craft) manufacturing in the US. Our society has been enthralled by the false dichotomy of “four year degrees or else” and far too many people get pushed into the college debt accumulation machine with little to show for it. Humans, at our core, make, create, tinker and explore, and so many hands-on/builder folks don’t have viable career options in the current structure. Education is important, but college doesn’t necessarily equal education. The information economy and overseas manufacturing has gutted so many sectors, and I’d love to see a 2030 where significantly more students could pursue their innate talents rather than get hammered into ill-fitting undergraduate degrees. Sure, that’d throw a wrench in the financial industry’s debt packaging wizardry, but oh well. And I say all this as a career educator with two graduate degrees: we’ve been doing this all wrong for too long, and this crisis represents a long overdue opportunity to adjust.

    • 3

      I’ve thought about this, too. At this point, your guess is as good as mine but neither are as good as actual data. That said, I do understand where you’re coming from because, well, we want to prepare for the possibility. Unfortunately, I’m not a hard core data analyst, so this is beyond my personal scope. I do, however, know what I know and that is this:

      At the home base, I currently have a single, 100W solar panel and plan to add at least two more (and a few more batteries) to my array setup. If I have to, I’ll move my refrigerator/freezer to that circuit to keep food preserved. As for keeping myself cool, I currently have 4 solar sails that provide decent shade and usually resort to groundwater temperature baths during the height of summer. 😉

    • 6

      I’m preparing for a second wave that I think is inevitable. Every time I go to the grocery store I buy a pack of toilet paper, paper towels, and bottled water.

      I’m mostly just saving money like I never have before, and pulling out cash every time I go to the ATM.

      I’m also worried about a grid failure, but a lot of my prepping is double dip, so I’m not doing anything that I haven’t already done – except finally buy a water filter with some of my stimulus check.

       

      • 5

        I think this is a brilliant strategy. Little, almost imperceivable steps, still get you where you want to be -and without making it noticeable/obvious to the outside observer.

        I’ve been doing something similar. Every time I go to the store, I buy coffee -even if I don’t need it. Because, I’ll be damned if I’m going to subject my family to my caffeine withdrawal. LOL

        I’m with you on the grid failure and I think getting a water filter/purifier is a great investment with a potentially massive payout.

      • 4

        HA. I have a percolator and a coleman camp stove for exactly the same fear about coffee.

      • 3

        Yup. A love of camping and having the equipment already really helps! 😉

      • 3

        LOL. I actually don’t like camping at all and I literally bought the coleman stove and peroclator after having one too many power outages and needing coffee.

        Like I said- beginner prepper. haha.

      • 4

        We’ll make a camper out of you yet! LOL

      • 3

        Ahhh Coffee.  I’ve nearly run out during this pandemic and tea is my backup as it was my first love.  Didn’t get to coffee until  much later in life.  I do have a pour over option but all of my coffee is whole bean.  Any suggestions for a good manual grinder?  But then, I would run out of cream pretty quickly.

    • 4

      I’m concerned about supply chains.   I’ve noticed some items have returned to stock but not everything. For example, I’m trying to augment out my FAKs and isopropyl alcohol has been no where to be found for months.  Food and other essential items like medications may become unavailable, not just expensive.  The shelves at my local Target yesterday were very low to empty for some items (FAK supplies in particular).  So I’m continuing the plan we started at the beginning of the pandemic of aiming to stock 2 months of supplies – food, medications, cleaning supplies, etc.  I’ve also been the source for some of my friends with this plan which has been satisfying.

    • 5

      I put this together back in late April.  These are not predictions but rather possibilities.

      https://paultmartin.com/blog/f/a-letter-to-you-on-the-second-and-third-order-effects-of-covid-19

      • 5

        I appreciate the range of topics your letter touched on, thank you!

      • 3

        Excellent, thank you, especially the part about it becoming harder to get loans.

      • 4

        @Paul have you seen any tangible evidence yet about the long-term damage to first responders?

        Agree with most/all of your points. Well put!

      • 5

        I am reading police are retiring at record numbers to the point NYPD is limiting the number of retirement submissions on a daily basis.  As cities elect to de-fund police, it creates an artificial lack of cops on the street, putting those current officers under more stress.

    • 4

      The big one on my radar is crime.  As economies go down, crime goes up, and our economy is going down hard.  Already, people I know feel it’s no longer safe to go out at night in New York City because of crime.

      • 4

        Ditto. It’s not even due to the civil unrest lately… even without that, it seems like the “threads are being pulled.” Even just anecdotally from paying attention to my local Nextdoor group, it seems like crime is going up while police response is going down.

    • 5

      I think we’re close to a big possible inflection point if enhanced unemployment is allowed to run out in a few days. https://twitter.com/TheStalwart/status/1283357615590903808

      I’m worried about second-order impacts on the economy via unemployment, commercial real estate, residential real estate, and then the supply chain.

      Even if we do give people money, supply chain problems mean there’s often not much to buy. Have you been to a Guitar Center lately? There’s nothing on the shelves. There are niches like that all over the economy, where even if people have disposable income it’s hard to dispose of it.

      So my worries for the next phase of this are mostly centered around the economy and financial system. We’ve yet to see the full impact unfold in those areas, but we may soon.

      • 3

        100% agreement.

    • 1

      Medium term impact of the BLM movement is the deployment of paramilitary forces in Portland.  Civil war and martial law being imposed in place of a peaceful transition of power after the election was, in my mind, a movie script.  Then came clearing out Layfayette Park for a photo op, and now Portland.  I’d like to believe normal rule of law, checks and balances and respect for democratic traditions would be enough but I can’t unsee what I’m seeing.  These aren’t tin hat conspiracy theory posts, these are real police actions.

      I own one shotgun and I used to have one handgun.  I didn’t think I’d ever buy another but I’m thinking about it now.