The Market Revolution, Industrialization, and New Technologies

Start Free Trial

What impact does electricity have on life today?

Electricity has a huge impact on life today. By allowing us to have running water, use cell phones, communicate quickly, and get medical help when we need it, electricity has become a cornerstone of life as we know it.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I would argue that the best way to consider the impact that electricity has on life today is to imagine a world without electricity. In certain parts of the world, strain on ageing infrastructure has forced authorities to implement loadshedding, which is essentially planned daily power outages. Take a moment to imagine what life is like under these conditions: not only are the lights off, but it is impossible to carry out everyday tasks like cooking, running a heater or air conditioning, doing a load of washing, or charging a cell phone. While loadshedding lasts only a couple of hours, it provides a glimpse of what life would be like with no electricity.

Electricity has a massive impact on life today, and it has made just about everything that we take for granted possible. Even having running water in our homes relies on electricity. Without electricity, there would be no emails, no cell phones and no internet. The business world would look completely different, and there would be fewer careers and fewer opportunities to earn a living. Electricity makes an infinitely faster pace of life and work possible. We are accustomed to being able to send an email to anywhere in the world in a split second or pick up a cell phone. In a world without electricity, however, you would have to send a letter that might take several weeks to reach its destination.

Thinking about the bigger picture, I would argue that electricity increases life expectancy, because it makes the work done by doctors and nurses possible. It allows security systems to be run, which makes the world a safer place.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Electricity has made the economy active all day, every day.  Factories and retail outlets can now operate around-the-clock.  Electricity make cities safer, as city lights are cheaper to operate on electricity rather than whale oil.  Electricity has made the southern United States productive, as air conditioning is a benefit to the area.  Electricity cooks food and preserves food in refrigerators and freezers--it has put the ice man out of business.  Electricity's uses power the Information Age, as the Internet and television would be impossible without electricity.  Electricity also makes communication instantaneous through the use of e-mail as well.  More practical uses of electricity are the batteries that power your car and the electrical devices that power pacemakers.  Electricity has done away with the hangman's noose in capital crimes, as people used the electric chair for the death penalty.  Electricity also keeps people alive in hospitals through ventilators and monitors.  It's hard to imagine world civilization without electricity.  Electricity does have a bad effect, however, in terms of light pollution--scientists are still studying the effect of light pollution from major cities on migrating birds and other creatures.  Electricity has also led to more cases of insomnia--before electricity, it was common to sleep at night, but modern-day Western society thrives on constant work and consumerism.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Electricity is central to the ability of almost all modern societies to function. Hospitals, air traffic control systems, street lights, modern sewage systems, most forms of communication, and the U.S. financial services industry are all dependent upon electricity.  A major attack on or failure of the nation's power grids would shut down the country.  The government uses a term to describe the importance of electricity to the country's ability to function: critical infrastructure.  That phrase, especially prominent since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, denotes those components or sectors of American society whose collapse would impede the entire nation's ability to function, with wide-scale disruptions to virtually every aspect of our daily lives.  The so-called "Northeast blackout of 2003," during which the electrical grids for the northeastern United States and the Canadian province of Ontario suddenly failed, provided an important lesson to the governments of both Canada and the United States regarding the fragility of electrical power grids on which all countries depend.  While most people's power was restored with six hours, the sudden and total loss of electricity left over one million people without access to any item or service dependent upon electricity to operate.  

Most people take electricity for granted, but most recognize that their lives are severely disrupted by power outages.  Washing machines, the ability to recharge cell phones, lights, refrigerators, electricity-powered stoves and ovens (as opposed to those operated by natural gas) all become useless when their power supply is interrupted.  The amount of perishable food that has to be discarded when power outages extend beyond a few hours -- and many do -- represents enormous financial losses, to say nothing of the shortage of food that can result.  Electricity has an enormous impact on most lives.  Its absence threatens the stability of even the most advanced civilizations.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Electricity (along with the internal combustion engine) makes our modern way of life possible.  So I would say that electricity's impact on our life is that we could not imagine living without it.

If you have ever lived in a place where power outages were frequent, you would know just how much of an impact electricity has on our lives.  We rely on it, for example, to preserve our food (in refrigerators and freezers) and then to cook that food when we want to.  Without electricity, we would not have refrigerators or electric stoves (as well as other "kitchen gadgets" as seen in the link below).  Without electricity, we would have a hard time entertaining ourselves since our computers, our iPods, and our televisions rely on electricity.

Put simply, our lifestyles today would be impossible without electricity.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial