For years we have been talking about how vulnerable our nation’s power grid is to attack. Whether it is from natural causes like extreme natural disasters or geo-magnetic events, or from man-made attacks like low-level terror attacks or an electro-magnetic pulse (EMPs) attack, one thing is for certain, it’s only a matter of time before something cripples our nation’s electric grid.
Our nation’s power grid is a hodgepodge of antiquated equipment and technology, with a large portion of it still relying on 1960’s and 70’s technology. With administration after administration failing to do anything to properly secure our country’s power systems, our grid has become a patchwork of interconnected power generation plants, transmission facilities, distribution facilities and over 400,000 miles of electric transmission lines, some of which actually dates back to the 1880s.
While a complete shutdown of this nation’s power grid may sound unbelievable, the fact is, the likelihood of it happening is actually pretty high. In fact, during a congressional hearing on national security last year, Congresswomen Yvette Clark (D-NY) testified that “The likelihood of a severe geo-magnetic event capable of crippling our electric grid is 100%.”
Last year while speaking at the annual International Electric Infrastructure Security Summit, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) said, “We are only one act of madness away from a social cataclysm unlike anything our country has ever known.” If this country is ever hit by an EMP attack, or even something that we know will eventually happen like a severe space weather catastrophe, this nation’s water supplies, delivery distributions systems, financial services, power grids, and vital services will come to a complete standstill.
How likely is an EMP attack or Severe Space Weather Catastrophe
The likelihood of us being attacked by an EMP really depends on who you talk to. While a number of nations possess the technology that’s required to launch an attack, how likely they are to do it is really up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the likelihood of being hit by a catastrophic coronal mass ejection (CME) or solar flare; it’s happened in the past and will happen again.
Back in 1859, just as the world started to rely on electricity, the earth was hit by a massive solar flare. What came to be known as the Carrington event, gave us a taste of what could happen should we be hit by one of these massive solar flares today.
The CME that hit back in 1859 was so powerful that it could actually be observed with the naked-eye. It caused widespread damage to telegraph systems throughout the world. Telegraph operators received shocks, telegraph papers burst into flames, and aurora-induced electric currents sent power through telegraph machines allowing messages to be transmitted even after being disconnected.
If a Carrington size event where to hit the earth today, the consequences would be devastating.
NASA scientists say that a direct hit to Earth from one of these solar events would have a catastrophic impact on the nation’s critical infrastructures, costing upwards of $2 trillion dollars in damage during the first year alone. According to their best estimates, it would take at least four years to recover, with urban areas being hit especially hard.
Because of their total dependency on critical infrastructures for electricity, communications, food and water delivery, banking and financial services, and even emergency services, highly populated urban centers would experience the brunt of the catastrophe and would likely see large amounts of death and chaos.
According to Frank Gaffney, a spokesman for the Center for Security Policy, within a year of an attack “nine out of 10 Americans would be dead, because we can’t support a population of the present size in urban centers and the like without electricity.” If that sounds a little high, consider Former CIA Bureau Chief Claire Lopez is also warning that “Within one year, it is estimated that 9 out of 10 of all Americans would be dead.”
What can you do to protect yourself from Attacks on our Power Grid?
The first step is to realize the severity of the problem, and understand that the government will not be able to help during this type of disaster. The simple fact is emergency management personnel have no contingency plans to deal with this type of event and would be overwhelmed in a matter of hours. If you need proof of this, just look at how they respond to routine events like hurricanes; now imagine an event that would make those hurricanes look like an innocent summer’s breeze.
The second step is all about preparedness. You need to be prepared to survive an extended period of time without power and essential services. This means stockpiling food and water, learning the skills you need to protect yourself and your family from the chaos that will ensue, and in my opinion, getting as far away from highly populated urban centers as you can.
If at all possible, you should look into purchasing some type of rural bug out property, where you can head should you face a catastrophic collapse scenario. In my opinion, urban survival during this type of disaster will be almost impossible.
Shielding your Electronics from EMPs, CMEs and Solar Flares.
There are a number of things that you can do to protect your electronics from EMPs and Solar Flares. From installing surge protectors and shielding equipment on our everyday devices, to storing backup electronics like ham radios and essential gear in EMP shielding bags or faraday cages, there are options out there for protecting your electronics.