The purpose of this guest document
could not be better expressed than it is through our paraphrasing its
We strongly recommend that everyone who lands on this page carefully
read, better yet, carefully study the experiences and scenarios that
Mr. Rogers presents and which we fully endorse.
Keep in mind - denial is not an option if you wish the minimize the
suffering which much of humanity is already enduring and which will
knock at your door sooner or later.
The Original Unedited Document (1)
The takedown of the Puerto Rican power grid by Hurricane Irma will, we
hope, provide a teaching moment. The United States power grid is
vulnerable, and the consequences of a widespread failure, especially if
lengthy, will be a disaster of monumental proportions. This
should not be a new realization. Serious analysts such as the
Foundation for Resilient Societies (2)
and the EMP Commission (3)
have been warning us for
a long time. The warnings have been ignored or even actively
opposed by the electric power industry.
America's electric grid can be brought down by sabotage or by natural
forces, such as the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Hurricanes have
limited geographic scope, but solar storms can affect the entire
country. As was shown by the Puerto Rican experience, without
electricity, credit and debit cards don't work. Cash becomes
king. Without electricity, communications become dubious.
Among natural threats to the electric grid, solar storms are perhaps
the most serious. A solar storm causes the Earth's magnetic field
to move and induce large direct currents in long conductors, such as
power lines and communications cables. The 1859 Carrington Event
was so powerful that some telegraph operators were electrocuted by
voltages induced in the wires. Fortunately, in 1859, the power
grid did not exist. A smaller March 1989 solar storm crashed the
Quebec power grid and destroyed a large power transformer at the Salem
nuclear generating station in New Jersey. If the 1989 solar storm
had been as severe as the Carrington Event, much of the North American
grid could have gone down for months or years.
Since a solar storm is associated with the mass ejection of charged
particles from the Sun, it is possible to have a warning and possibly
prevent damage to the grid by turning off the grid until the storm is
over. Obviously, a deliberate blackout would be inconvenient, but
not as inconvenient as a blackout lasting for years. But electric
utilities are unlikely to proactively turn off the grid, because their
insurance companies have policy exclusions for "intentional acts."
Deliberate physical attack and sabotage of the grid are also major
threats. But perhaps the biggest danger would be an
electromagnetic pulse (EMP) created by detonation of a nuclear device
above the atmosphere. The North Koreans have already threatened
an EMP attack.
A small nuclear weapon detonated 200 miles above Kansas would create no
direct damage – only a bright flash in the sky. But gamma rays
released from the explosion would interact with atoms in the upper
atmosphere, knocking electrons loose. These electrons would move
in a spiral path as they interact with the Earth's magnetic
field. Strong electric and magnetic fields would strike the
entire United States as a kind of electromagnetic shockwave.
There would also be slower variations in the Earth's magnetic field,
much like the effect of a solar storm.
An EMP attack has the potential to damage computers and other
semiconductor-dependent devices. Stalled automobiles could fill
the roads and block emergency vehicles. Control system for power
plants and refineries could fail. Above all, there could be
widespread destruction of the all-important high-voltage grid
transformers. Critical infrastructure can be hardened against
EMP, as, indeed, our military systems are and have been for decades.
If there is a large-scale blackout lasting for weeks or longer, the
immediate problem is food; water; and, in cold areas, sufficient heat
to sustain life. Without power, the normal food pipeline would be
To bolster societal resilience, everyone could be required to have a
30-day supply of food and water, or local areas could have warehouses
and distribution schemes to fill the void. Certainly, there is no
shortage of food. At any time, there are enough corn and soybeans
stored in the Midwest to feed the entire country for five years.
The problem is distribution, as well as preparing the grain as an
edible meal. As an example, the Las Vegas, Nevada metropolitan
area has about 2 million people. If each person consumes two
pounds of corn and soybeans per day, then 4 million pounds, or 2,000
tons, a day is required. A train with 100 cars could transport
enough food to Las Vegas for five days' consumption. But will
their diesel engines be disabled by the EMP? Can the railroad
operate if much of its electronic infrastructure is damaged? Can
sufficient diesel fuel be found to operate the trains?
The grid's high-voltage transformers would take years to replace and
must be protected against damage. These devices can be as big as
a house and are mainly manufactured in Asia. Lead time is months
or years and would be longer if large numbers of orders were
placed. The manufacture of these transformers is an example of a
critical industry that should be preserved and protected within the
U.S. Protecting the thousands of transformers with
automatic devices might cost $50 billion, or possibly much less, but
this cost is nothing against the $50-billion-per-day cost of a national
blackout. Other capital equipment, such as generators and
turbines, must also be protected, but these devices are probably less
vulnerable to damage than the transformers.
In times of crisis, there must be a plan to produce and distribute
enough diesel fuel to keep the railroads and heavy trucking industry
operating. The railroad engines and truck tractors must be
hardened against an EMP. The idea that it is enough to have 24 or
48 hours' worth of fuel for emergency generators simply postpones the
disaster for 24 or 48 hours. There has to be a plan to keep
essential services going until the grid can be bought back up.
Without communications, nothing can be coordinated, so basic means of
communication, such as the cell phone network, must be protected.
The problem in Puerto Rico of truck drivers being unavailable because
they were busy taking care of their families is instructive.
Organizations equipped for emergencies, such as the military, fire
departments, and police, are too small in numbers and not necessarily
located where they are needed to hold things together in a widespread
blackout. A volunteer corps of people ready to deal with
emergencies is necessary. Such a corps would also be invaluable
for emergencies such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
Everything comes down to having a plan to deal with what might
happen. There is no such plan today. In the case of a
national blackout, help will not come from outside the affected area,
because the entire country is affected.
The threat by North Koreans to detonate a nuclear device over the
Pacific Ocean could be a ploy to test an EMP device. A variation
of nuclear weapons is devices, probably with low explosive yield,
designed to have a high gamma ray output to create a powerful
EMP. Given such devices, along with delivery systems, the North
Koreans could institute a devastating attack on the United
States. They must be denied this technology. Nuclear
weapons often have a shell or "tamper" made of a heavy metal to contain
the explosion for a few more nanoseconds before the bomb blows itself
apart and aborts the increasing chain reaction. The tamper
increases explosive yield but also absorbs gamma rays.
It would be incredibly foolish to allow the North Koreans to continue
on the path of developing the means to destroy the American economy and
perhaps kill a large part of the population. The North Koreans
are clearly working on these technologies that permit a weak state to
launch a devastating attack against a strong state, and further, they
are obviously prepared to sell the technology to states that are even
more dangerous, such as Iran. The Russians and Chinese are
obviously delighted to have a proxy that can attack or threaten the
U.S. while said Russians and Chinese protest their innocence. We
can have a small war now or something much worse later.