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Perspective: A Lot to be Thankful For

During this season of gratitude, those of us whose homes are lit at the flip of a switch, and warmed at the touch of a button, are thankful for the wonders provided by electricity. We have it good.

In fact, in a world where modernity and advancement are often measured by access to and availability of electric power, the United States ranks as the second largest electricity producing country, only behind China. Our economy, with its banks and businesses, hardworking industries and individuals, chugs forward, due largely in part to available, affordable and reliable electricity.

In the U.S. and throughout the world, we depend on schools to educate, hospitals to heal, industries to produce and businesses to employ. These schools, hospitals, industries and businesses, in turn, depend on electricity to function.

In countries where education and health care are insufficient and jobs are scarce, a root cause can be a lack of electricity.

It may surprise you to learn that approximately one-fourth of the world’s population still lacks electricity in 2014; that’s one in four people who live daily without the benefit of tools and appliances powered by electricity.

In Nigeria, lack of reliable electricity is blamed for endangering the lives of both mother and baby during childbirth. In Haiti, information and communications technologies are deficient or altogether absent because there’s little or no electricity. In the world’s 50 poorest nations, almost 80 percent of the population has no access to electricity. Throughout the world, but mostly concentrated in Africa and southern Asia, about 1.5 billion people (a quarter of the world’s people) are without electricity.

While we in the U.S. discuss a digital divide in communities where Internet access is sketchy, countries like Haiti and Sierra Leone can’t get past their lack of electricity to obtain even minimal digital communications. While our government leaders debate global warming and clean energy, a quarter of the world’s people are completely removed from that conversation; instead of debating clean energy, they haul buckets of water home to cook over wood fires.

It’s not hard to see how electricity could improve living and working conditions in these impoverished nations – how electric power could lift their people out of poverty.

It’s exactly what happened in rural America in the late 1930s when rural electric cooperatives, like Jackson EMC, were formed to bring electricity to farm families who carried water buckets and cooked over wood fires.

For what those rural electric pioneers did throughout this nation, we are thankful.

For the advantages, advancements and ease of life made possible with electric power, we are thankful.

And for the quarter of the earth’s population still steeped in a world without electricity, as we were barely 75 years ago, we wish Godspeed.