If electricity ceased to exist

Umm… why? We’re only talking about electricity not working. The internal combustion engine will still work - it will just require hand-cranking instead of the electric starter. Ditto the steam engine. Canals will still be there. And if it comes to it, carts can be pulled by people.

The problem is, there are very few internal combustion engines that are rigged to accept a crank, and few people that could make the conversion. Steam engines in working condition are similarly rare. Remember, for the first month -when the travel problem is a potential killer via starvation rather than simply a major convenience- people are mostly going to be forced to resort to using whatever technology they have on hand. Hand-pulled carts will be helpful for some, but they won’t get them to a food source very much faster.

I concede the canals -the honestly didn’t occur to me. They are of limited usefulness in finding a food source, of course; there has to be something better downstream than here.

After we shave off those people who couldn’t get their ducks in a row in time, the remaining population will (as soon as the crops are in) begin work on restoring steam trains and boats, establishing crank engines, and for that matter increasing the number of horses and whatnot available as well. By that point, of course, the ‘cataclysm’ will be over, at least as far as insane fataly rates go.

Gasoline engines require electricity to run. You’ve heard of spark plugs? Diesels don’t require electricity to run, but generally require it to start, and not just to run the starter motor, but the heat the combustion chambers with glow plugs. If you knew ahead of time that this was coming, you could modify a diesel to start some other way, but they’re a bear to get going if you don’t have glow plugs, and I’m not sure who you think is going to turn the crank to get the big Cat and Cummins turbo diesels in the big rigs going. And that’s really the issue for city-dwellers. The survival of cities depends on food that’s trucked in, often from great distances. I would be surprised if there were more than a month’s worth of food in most cities (and that’s before we even consider how much of that will go bad without refrigeration).

A lot of those 2,000,000,000 people may not have immediate access to electricity but depend on it nonetheless. People in rural areas may still rely on vehicles that rely on electricity to move their goods to and from the market. People in powerless slums have their crime controlled by police with walkie talkies and other equipment requiring electricity. And many of them will be eating food imported from parts of the world where electricity is used extensively in agriculture.

Just because someone has no access to electricity doesn’t mean that the loss of electricity would have no effect on their life.