ISSUE 5 07
down by a blackout. Within minutes, the world price
of these commodities rose by 5%.
• Power cuts in Iran in September 2008 shut down
production and made working in the scorching heat
without air conditioning impossible. As a result, the
country was forced to open up to Chinese imported
goods, further increasing the economic impact.
• As energy demand soared in Beijing in July
2004, rolling blackouts occurred. To compensate,
factories were forced to operate at night to save on
air conditioning. Meanwhile state governments
introduced rationing – turning lights off in one
place to keep them on in another.
• Blackouts in the US and Canada in August 2003
reduced trading on the stock exchange, workers
struggled to get to work, 36 car manufacturers
were closed while airports reported 500 flight
cancellations, estimated at tens of millions of
Blackouts obviously severely impact on food production
and storage. Inability to safely store food has a number
of consequences, including the economic impact.
• In May 2008, traders in Zanzibar found meat
perishing in a blackout. To claw back profits, they
bought fresh meat at reduced prices, only to find
there was no market for it, because customers had
no means of cooking it.
• In Kenya during 2010, Nairobi’s restaurants planned
menus to accommodate blackouts. Staff scrambled to
get generators running to avoid food spoilage. Hosts
were forced to serve restricted offerings to customers,
while potentially poisoning them.
• Imposed rationing to meet efficiency targets in
China’s Hebei province in 2010 left tens of thousands
of homes without electricity for 22 hours over
three days. Curdled milk and rotten vegetables at
the domestic level were the social consequences
of local industries having exceeded their energy
• Blackouts in Pakistan during a heat wave in June
2010 resulted in numerous deaths from food
poisoning, as people ate spoiled food from freezers.
When the lights go out, crime rates increase, and
security systems fail without electricity. Blackouts
provide opportunity for fraud, theft and exploitation.
• A five week blackout in central Auckland,
New Zealand, actually resulted in a reduction in