The Blackout Next Time

The Blackout Next Time

During and after Hurricane Harvey, a chemical plant suffered repeated explosions. Because the power went out. Beaumont, Texas was without drinking water. Because the power went out. Gasoline prices across the nation have spiked, thanks to oil refineries going off line. Because the power went out.

Now, we are being told that Hurricane Irma has knocked out the power for Puerto Rico for between four and six months, with repercussions that may prove not just burdensome but life-threatening for large numbers of the island’s residents. Far less powerful hurricanes have taken down the electric grid in parts of Florida and it is anybody’s guess how long and how widespread that problem will be after what’s being called a “nuclear storm” assaults most, if not all, the peninsula, and perhaps beyond.

If all these naturally precipitated nightmares were not enough, North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, has explicitly threatened to destroy the rest of the U.S. electricity infrastructure with an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack. Should that happen, blacking out large parts of the continental United States for a protracted period of a year or more duration, the chairman of a blue-ribbon congressional committee has estimated that 9 out of 10 Americans will die.

Because the power went out – and stayed out.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

The conclusion made plain by such developments from the recent past and immediate future is that the most critical of all critical infrastructures – the nation’s bulk power distribution system, better known as the grid – is not resilient. Indeed, it is dangerously vulnerable to both naturally occurring disasters and deliberate enemy action.

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If this insight…

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