Rolling blackouts consumed the Southern US state of Texas this week, making us wonder whether Eskom had opened up a corner shop across the Atlantic. But it turns out the unseasonably cold weather that recently swept the globe – the result of human-caused climate change – is to blame, The New York Times reports. At least 25 people died as freezing temperatures caused some power stations to freeze over; other stations were unable to cope with the increased demand for electricity, cutting off the state’s power. Texas is typically scorching hot and its grid isn’t designed to deal with such cold temperatures. Now some climate scientists say fierce winter storms could become more common, even as the overall weather gets hotter. Changing the state’s grid is costly, especially as its electricity system has the opposite problem to ours: too little government regulation. Power providers in Texas are privatised. Letting market forces dictate what happens on the grid is partly why many didn’t have backup power plants in reserve.
This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 18 February 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.