To improve energy security, we need to make infrastructures less reliable. Civil disobedience and ecosabotage to disrupt energy infrastructure promise a gentler transition.
Counterintuitive, but that’s the well-reasoned conclusion of this article asking us to redefine energy security. Rather than assuming 24 / 7 access to unlimited supplies of electricity and fuels, we must ask what it takes to meet actual human needs:
…storing food, washing clothes, opening and closing doors, communicating with each other, moving from one place to another, seeing in the dark, and so on. All these things can be achieved either with or without electricity, and in the first case, with more or less electricity.
Defined in this way, energy security is not just about securing the supply of electricity, but also about improving the resilience of the society, so that it becomes less dependent on a continuous supply of power. This includes the resilience of people (do they have the skills to do things without electricity?), the resilience of devices and technological systems (can they handle an intermittent power supply?), and the resilience of institutions (is it legal to operate a power grid that is not always on?). Depending on the resilience of the society, a disruption of the power supply may or may not lead to a disruption of energy services or social practices.
Direct action to stop fossil fuels thus offers benefits beyond environmental. Since fossil-fueled always-on infrastructure is inherently unsustainable, society will have to adapt sooner or later to intermittent provision of services. Activists disrupting the energy system encourage experimenting with and changing life habits sooner rather than later, before climate chaos and ecological collapse make adaptation significantly more difficult.