SMRT Meters?

John Devitt

Toss a dead cat somewhere and you’re liable to hit someone who is petitioning against BC Hydro’s smart meter installation program in Revelstoke.  Whether that petition is a literal petition requesting your signature, free “no trespassing” signs directed towards Hydro employees, or simply a dedicated Facebook campaign of spreading information, it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.  The truth is I have friends on both sides of this debate, and both groups seem to be vying for my soul.  They express varying degrees of disgust, condescension or even deploy the silent treatment when I say things like, “What’s all the fuss about?”

It’s incredible to see such a polarizing issue grasp the hearts and minds of so many people.  It has quickly become almost as taboo a topic of discussion amongst “respectable people” as politics and religion.  Will I allow a smart meter to be installed at my house?  Well, that is certainly a question to answer in the near future.  In the meantime I won’t be practicing my goosestep like a diligent sheep, nor constructing a tinfoil hat like any fashionable conspiracy theorist. There is nothing to fear except fear itself.  No, not even measuring boxes.

At first glance, smart meters shouldn’t be all that bad.  After all, what’s wrong with having a more accurate reading of electricity consumption?  In the age of conservation, knowing precisely what your usage is and how you can reduce same should be beneficial.  Presumably BC Hydro can than adjust rates and production to more accurately impact these readings.  However, it is not the purpose of this column to debate the pros and cons of this new fangled technology.

It seems with the introduction of any new technology people are automatically fearful.  Especially when they perceive to have had no choice in the matter.  It took almost a decade to convince my elders that Automatic Teller Machines would not lose their money when deposited.  Granted, it took only a matter of years to convince these same folks that online banking was safe and secure, but I can still recall the debates at Thanksgiving about that one.

Fear of change tends to drum up all sorts of reasons not to adopt a certain technology.  Certainly at the turn of the century all sorts of folks who were nervous about losing the tried and true, safety of horse drawn transportation likely concocted all sorts of silly ideas about why automobiles were detrimental to the general population.  Things like toxic emissions causing health problems, or using oil to power transportation would likely only lead to hundreds of years of weakened national defense due to foreign oil dependency.  Ah, to be a part of that social media campaign!  Without a doubt, I would have “shared” those informative pamphlets on the “wall” of my horseshoe shop!  Ah, progress!  Then again, perhaps some may have been right about that one.

A new documentary being released in coming weeks entitled Surviving Progress from Executive Producer Martin Scorsese, delves deeper into some of these issues.

It starts off with the premise that perhaps we as a species are flawed in our evolution.  Our forms have not evolved in 50,000 years and so; in effect we are attempting to utilize tools and technologies far beyond the capacity of our evolution.  It seems obvious then, that our primitive, hunter-gatherer brains would be fearful of things like radio signals, and… measuring.  Perhaps what we need is a little more radiation in our diets to kick start some mutated evolution so we are better adapted to all this future.  In small doses, we can avoid Godzilla like mutations, but still tweak things just enough to move us forward.

We need a hardware upgrade to better run this software of knowledge we’ve accumulated.  If cell phones, smart meters, hydro towers, wireless internet, satellite television, and the sun can all contribute just enough radiation, then perhaps we will rewire our brain and stride more confidently forward to combat real issues facing our society, like hunger, homelessness, environmental degradation and war.  Instead of being so hung up on things like measuring boxes.

 “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”

Leo Tolstoy

And just in  case you’d like to hear Homer Simpson singing the I Am So Smrt song here’s that clip from the show: