The ghost of Sir Edward Grey haunts Europe.
Power companies said the outage started in Germany with a surge in demand prompted by cold weather, and then spread to other parts of Europe.
Some five million people in France lost power, mainly in the east of the country and including parts of Paris.
"We weren't very far from a European blackout," a senior director with French power company RTE said.
Pierre Bornard told the French news agency AFP that two German high-voltage transmission lines failed, causing problems across western Europe.
This triggered a "house of cards" style system breakdown, he said.
Probably something to do with global warming. I bought a 2.5kw generator last year, but haven't had to use it yet.
Talking of global warming, the Greens have a good idea for reducing Co2 emmissions :
"The environmental costs of long-distance trade need to be properly taken into account," said Dr Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP for South East England.
"We must manage international trade in a way which is socially and environmentally sustainable, working towards global agreement on a raft of measures such as taxation on fuel and import tariffs designed to support home-grown businesses.
"This will help offset the environmental damage caused by ships like the Emma Maersk plying international waters filled with MP3 players and plastic toys."
Tariffs, eh ? It's the way of the future !
I doubt very much that Chris Dillow reads Majority Rights, but its occasional contributions from the Bear's Lair are worth a browse - this one on Comparative Advantage :
In his 1990 paper “Endogenous Technological Change” economist Paul Romer showed that economic growth is caused primarily by the spread and interaction of information, some but not all of which is “excludable” in that others can be prevented from using it once it’s created. As an instance of information-driven technological change, he instanced Francis Cabot Lowell’s 1811 industrial espionage on British power looms, through which he created the U.S. textile industry.
From the Lowell example, it is immediately clear where the Doctrine of Comparative Advantage falls down. Under the Doctrine, if the United States is able to produce textiles more cheaply than Britain because of its more advantageous factor costs, then the U.S. should specialize in textiles and Britain in other goods and this will be advantageous for both sides. However Lowell’s industrial espionage demonstrated a flaw in this argument: if British technological superiority consists of knowledge of how to run a textile mill, and can be suborned by an American spy, then the transfer of textile manufacture to the United States was disadvantageous to Britain. It produced new competition which drove down prices, removed the U.S. market (Lowell was instrumental in getting an 85% tariff enacted against imports of British textiles in 1816) and was highly damaging to British living standards. By the process of technological piracy, the factors of comparative advantage were changed in the U.S. favor, with no compensating advantage to Britain.
Given that most intellectual property is portable and non-excludible, if the world economy is to consist largely of intellectual property, with physical goods being manufactured by robots and their design being far more important in their cost than human direct labor, then the world trading system is in deep trouble. Companies in rich countries that outsource intellectual property production to cheaper labor environments will soon find their trade secrets no longer secret and their outsourcees competing with them with an unbeatable wage cost advantage.
Ah yes, but our superior education system will mean we move to higher-added-value goods, aided by our 'superior infrastructure', education system, and 'technical know-how'. That's why we're specialising in hi-tech stuff like ... er ... er, while China is doing downmarket products like medical scanners and telecomms.