Will We Demand the Inexpensive Fix Which Will Prevent Armageddon … Or Focus On Over-Blown Dangers?

George Washington's picture

Well-known physicist Michio Kaku and other members of the American Physical Society asked Congress to appropriate $100 million to harden the country’s electrical grid against solar flares.  As shown below, such an event is actually the most likely Armageddon-type event faced by humanity.

Congress refused.

Kaku explains that a solar flare like the one that hit the U.S. in 1859 would – in the current era of nuclear power and electric refrigeration – cause widespread destruction and chaos.

Not only could such a flare bring on hundreds of Fukushima-type accidents, but it could well cause food riots globally.

Kaku explains that relief came in for people hit by disasters like Katrina or Sandy from the “outside”. But a large solar flare could knock out a lot of the power nationwide. So – as people’s food spoils due to lack of refrigeration – emergency workers from other areas would be too preoccupied with their own local crisis to help. There would, in short, be no “cavalry” to the rescue in much of the country.

In fact, NASA scientists are predicting that a solar storm will knock out most of the electrical power grid in many countries worldwide, perhaps for months. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

News Corp Australia noted in February:

A 2009 study by the National Academy of Sciences warned that a massive geomagnetic assault on satellites and interconnected power grids could result in a blackout from which the nation may need four to 10 years to recover.




In May 2012, a US Geological Survey report estimated a 6 percent chance of another Carrington event [referring to the solar flare of 1859 which was so strong that telegraph lines, towers and stations caught on fire at a number of locations around the world, and sparks showered from telegraph machines] occurring in the next decade.




But we do not know whether or not the Carrington event was as bad as sunstorms get.


[University of Kansas physicist Adrian ] Melott proposed that material from a solar megaflare 10 times the strength of the Carrington kind bombarded this planet around the year 775.

This is not just a theoretical fear: the Earth has narrowly missed being crisped by a large solar flare several times in the last couple of years. For example, the Los Angeles Times reported last month:

Earth barely missed the “perfect solar storm” that could have smashed into our magnetic field and wreaked havoc with our satellite systems, electronics and power systems, potentially causing trillions of dollars in damage, according to data from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft.




If the solar onslaught had occurred just nine days earlier, it would have rivaled the 1859 Carrington event …


“Observations of such a solar superstorm during a very weak solar cycle indicate that extreme events are not as infrequent as we imagine,” the authors wrote.

Image courtesy of NASA

Meteorologist Jeff Masters notes:

We have the very real possibility that a geomagnetic storms of an intensity that has happened before–and will happen again–could knock out the power to tens of millions of Americans for multiple years. The electrical grids in Europe and northern Asia have similar vulnerabilities, so a huge, years-long global emergency affecting hundreds of millions of people and costing many trillions of dollars might result from a repeat of the 1859 or 1921 geomagnetic storms.

Masters points out that the U.S. electrical grid is extremely vulnerable:

Figure 2. Computer model study showing electrical systems that might be affected by a geomagnetic storm equivalent to the May 14-15, 1921 event. The regions outlined by the heavy black lines are susceptible to system collapse lasting months or years. A population in excess of 130 million might be affected, at a cost of $1-2 trillion in the first year after the event. The network of thin black lines shows the location of the nearly 80,000 miles long-distance heavy-hauling 345kV, 500kV and 765kV transmission lines in the U.S.–the main arteries of the U.S. electrical grid. The circles indicate magnitudes of geomagnetically-induced current (GIC) flow at each transformer in the network, and the color of the circle indicates the polarity of the current. Image credit: John Kappenman, Metatech Corp., The Future: Solutions or Vulnerabilities?, presentation to the space weather workshop, May 23, 2008.

What would happen to nuclear power plants world wide if their power – and most of the surrounding modern infrastructure – is knocked out?   Nuclear power companies are notoriously cheap in trying to cut costs. If they are failing to harden their electrical components to protect against the predicted solar storm, they are asking for trouble … perhaps on a scale that dwarfs Fukushima. Because while Fukushima is the first nuclear accident to involve multiple reactors within the same complex, a large solar storm could cause accidents at multiple complexes in numerous countries.

Most current reactors are of a similarly outdated design as the Fukushima reactors, where the cooling systems require electricity to operate, and huge amounts of spent radioactive fuel are housed on-site, requiring continuous cooling to prevent radioactive release. (Designs which would automatically shut down – and cool down – in the event of an accident are ignored for political reasons.)

If the nuclear power companies and governments continue to cut costs and take large gambles, the next nuclear accident could make Fukushima look tame.

A large solar storm which knocks out electrical grids over wide portions of the planet will happen at some point in the future.  Don’t pretend it is unforeseeable. The nuclear power industry is on notice that it must spend the relatively small amounts of money necessary to prevent a widespread meltdown from the loss of power due to a solar storm.

G2 Bulletin reports:

As scientists warn of an impending solar storm … that could collapse the national power grid, thrusting millions into darkness instantly, a debate has flared up between utilities and the federal government on the severity of such an event.


NASA and the National Academy of Sciences previously confirmed to G2Bulletin that an electromagnetic pulse event from an intense solar storm could occur any time …


They say it could have the effect of frying electronics and knocking out transformers in the national electric grid system.


Already, there are separate published reports of massive solar storms of plasma – some as large as the Earth itself – flaring off of the sun’s surface and shooting out into space, with some recently having come close enough to Earth to affect worldwide communications and alter the flights of commercial aircraft near the North Pole.


But in February, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, which represents the power industry, issued a stunning report asserting that a worst-case geomagnetic “super storm” like the 1859 Carrington Event likely wouldn’t damage most power grid transformers. Instead, it would cause voltage instability and possibly result in blackouts lasting only a few hours or days, but not months and years.


NERC’s assertion, however, is at serious variance with the 2008 congressional EMP Commission, the 2008 National Academy of Sciences report; a 2010 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report; the 2012 report by the Defense Committee of the British Parliament, and others.


Even the British scientists who contributed to the parliament report came to their own independent assessment that a great geomagnetic storm would cause widespread damage to power grid transformers and result in a protracted blackout lasting months, or even years, with catastrophic consequences for society.




[The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or "FERC"], which regulates interstate electricity and other energy sales but has no authority now over local utilities to harden their grid sites, says that as many as 130 million Americans could have problems for years.




U.S. transformers on the average are more than 30 years old and are susceptible to internal heating, according to FERC experts.




There is ample evidence in the possession of the FERC revealing the damage to transformers from previous geomagnetic storms. For example, there was serious transformer damage to the Salem nuclear power plant in New Jersey in the aftermath of the same geomagnetic storm that caused the March 1989 Hydro-Quebec blackout.

Making Ourselves More Vulnerable to Terrorism

In addition, we’ve spent tens of trillions on the “war on terror”, but have failed to take steps to protect against the largest terrorist threat of all: an attack on the power supplies to nuclear power plants. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which took out the power supply to a nuclear power plant would cause a Fukushima-style meltdown, and spent fuel pools are extremely vulnerable to terrorism.

Indeed, failing to harden our electrical grid invites a terrorist EMP attack because it is such an obvious vulnerability … its like waiving a red flag in front of a bull.  Given that the Department of Homeland Security concludes that even North Korea can launch an EMP attack on the U.S., this is a real vulnerability.

Unless we harden our electrical system to withstand electrical pulses, an EMP remains an attractive method for bad guys to bring the U.S. to its knees.

Bottom line:  Failing to harden our grid invites catastrophe from solar flares and terrorists.  It makes us doubly vulnerable.

There’s An Easy Fix … Are We Smart Enough to Take It?

Japan’s nuclear meltdown, the economic crisis and the Gulf oil spill all happened for the same reason: big companies cutting every corner in the book – and hiding the existence of huge risks – in order to make a little money.

There are relatively easy fixes to the threat from solar flares.

The head of the leading consulting firm on the effect of electromagnetic disruptions on our power grid – which was commissioned to study the issue by the U.S. federal government – stated that it would be relatively inexpensive to reduce the vulnerability of our power grid:

What we’re proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers’ ground connections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.




We think it’s do-able for $40,000 or less per resistor. That’s less than what you pay for insurance for a transformer.




If you’re talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We’re talking about $150 million or so. It’s pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Mechanical engineer Matthew Stein notes (footnotes omitted):

There are nearly 450 nuclear reactors in the world, with hundreds more being planned or under construction…. Imagine what havoc it would wreak on our civilization and the planet’s ecosystems if we were to suddenly witness not just one or two nuclear meltdowns, but 400 or more! How likely is it that our world might experience an event that could ultimately cause hundreds of reactors to fail and melt down at approximately the same time? I venture to say that, unless we take significant protective measures, this apocalyptic scenario is not only possible, but probable.




In the past 152 years, Earth has been struck by roughly 100 solar storms, causing significant geomagnetic disturbances (GMD), two of which were powerful enough to rank as “extreme GMDs.” If an extreme GMD of such magnitude were to occur today, in all likelihood, it would initiate a chain of events leading to catastrophic failures at the vast majority of our world’s nuclear reactors, similar to but over 100 times worse than, the disasters at both Chernobyl and Fukushima.




The good news is that relatively affordable equipment and processes could be installed to protect critical components in the electric power grid and its nuclear reactors, thereby averting this “end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it” scenario. The bad news is that even though panels of scientists and engineers have studied the problem, and the bipartisan Congressional electromagnetic pulse (EMP) commission has presented a list of specific recommendations to Congress, our leaders have yet to approve and implement any significant preventative measures.




Unfortunately, the world’s nuclear power plants, as they are currently designed, are critically dependent upon maintaining connection to a functioning electrical grid, for all but relatively short periods of electrical blackouts, in order to keep their reactor cores continuously cooled so as to avoid catastrophic reactor core meltdowns and fires in storage ponds for spent fuel rods.


If an extreme GMD were to cause widespread grid collapse (which it most certainly will), in as little as one or two hours after each nuclear reactor facility’s backup generators either fail to start, or run out of fuel, the reactor cores will start to melt down. After a few days without electricity to run the cooling system pumps, the water bath covering the spent fuel rods stored in “spent-fuel ponds” will boil away, allowing the stored fuel rods to melt down and burn. Since the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently mandates that only one week’s supply of backup generator fuel needs to be stored at each reactor site, it is likely that, after we witness the spectacular nighttime celestial light show from the next extreme GMD, we will have about one week in which to prepare ourselves for Armageddon.


To do nothing is to behave like ostriches with our heads in the sand, blindly believing that “everything will be okay” as our world drifts towards the next natural, inevitable super solar storm and resultant extreme GMD. Such a storm would end the industrialized world as we know it, creating almost incalculable suffering, death and environmental destruction on a scale not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.




The federal government recently sponsored a detailed scientific study to better understand how much critical components of our national electrical power grid might be affected by either a naturally occurring GMD or a man-made EMP. Under the auspices of the EMP Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and reviewed in depth by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Academy of Sciences, Metatech Corporation undertook extensive modeling and analysis of the potential effects of extreme geomagnetic storms on the US electrical power grid. Based upon a storm as intense as the 1921 storm, Metatech estimated that within the United States, induced voltage and current spikes, combined with harmonic anomalies, would severely damage or destroy over 350 EHV power transformers critical to the functioning of the US grid and possibly impact well over 2000 EHV transformers worldwide.


EHV transformers are made to order and custom-designed for each installation, each weighing as much as 300 tons and costing well over $1 million. Given that there is currently a three-year waiting list for a single EHV transformer (due to recent demand from China and India, lead times grew from one to three years), and that the total global manufacturing capacity is roughly 100 EHV transformers per year when the world’s manufacturing centers are functioning properly, you can begin to grasp the implications of widespread transformer losses.


The loss of thousands of EHV transformers worldwide would cause a catastrophic grid collapse across much of the industrialized world. It will take years, at best, for the industrialized world to put itself back together after such an event, especially considering the fact that most of the manufacturing centers that make this equipment will also be grappling with widespread grid failure.




In the event of an extreme GMD-induced long-term grid collapse covering much of the globe, if just half of the world’s spent fuel ponds were to boil off their water and become radioactive, zirconium-fed infernos, the ensuing contamination could far exceed the cumulative effect of 400 Chernobyls.




The Congressionally mandated EMP Commission has studied the threat of both EMP [i.e. an electromagnetic pulse set of by terrorists or adversaries in war] and extreme GMD events and made recommendations to the US Congress to implement protective devices and procedures to ensure the survival of the grid and other critical infrastructures in either event. John Kappenman, author of the Metatech study, estimates that it would cost about $1 billion to build special protective devices into the US grid to protect its EHV transformers from EMP or extreme GMD damage and to build stores of critical replacement parts should some of these items be damaged or destroyed. Kappenman estimates that it would cost significantly less than $1 billion to store at least a year’s worth of diesel fuel for backup generators at each US nuclear facility and to store sets of critical spare parts, such as backup generators, inside EMP-hardened steel containers to be available for quick change-out in the event that any of these items were damaged by an EMP or GMD.


For the cost of a single B-2 bomber or a tiny fraction of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bank bailout, we could invest in preventative measures to avert what might well become the end of life as we know it. There is no way to protect against all possible effects from an extreme GMD or an EMP attack, but we could implement measures to protect against the worst effects. Since 2008, Congress has narrowly failed to pass legislation that would implement at least some of the EMP Commission’s recommendations.




Citizens can do their part to push for legislation to move toward this goal and work inside our homes and communities to develop local resilience and self reliance, so that in the event of a long-term grid-down scenario, we might make the most of a bad situation. The same tools that are espoused by the Transition movement for developing local self-reliance and resilience to help cope with the twin effects of climate change and peak oil could also serve communities well in the event of an EMP attack or extreme GMD. If our country were to implement safeguards to protect our grid and nuclear power plants from EMP, it would also eliminate the primary incentive for a terrorist to launch an EMP attack. The sooner we take these actions, the less chance that an EMP attack will occur.

Will we insist that these inexpensive fixes to our electrical grid be made? Or will we focus on over-blown dangers … and ignore the thing most likely to actually get us?

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kurt's picture

Put survial items, including a moped with water carriers, in a cage. The moped will be useful after the bulk of people are dead because EMP has no effect on guns. Have enough material to board up all windows but one which should be mocked up to look like the house has already been broken in and burned out. After at least one body is dead, leave it near the window. The idea is to make it look like the house has been picked over many times. You need to be resolved to perform quiet kills, noise draws attention. You need many fall-backs and a layered defense.

ILLILLILLI's picture

This is a useful tool for viewing solar events:



novictim's picture

"But the fact remains that far too many people, and organizations, who really don’t have the knowledge to know what they’re talking about, bombard us with misleading claims. That’s one of the main reasons our society remains paralyzed, doing next to nothing to address what is really the defining issue of this century."


medium giraffe's picture

So much bullshit about 'EMP', too many people watching too many movies and playing too many video games.  For a decent EMP. you need a nuke.  Then you have a different sort of problem.  IIRC, the closest we come so far to producing an EMP weapon is to fit a massive generator on a warship, but that provides very limited range.  Fucking EMP.  And this is being discussed at the highest levels?! Tards.


medium giraffe's picture

Don't disagree with your burp theory at all, but I'm talking about weaponised EMP.  It's bullshit.  Really.

Fix-ItSilly's picture

A "Carrington" event?  Have we not learned something since the birth communications?

Well...  we now know that towns need red brick crossways to know how to cross the street.  And to do this we need "Build America" bonds.  It's a crony moment.  Like Y2K and the Ukraine.

Anyone know what crony was entitled to buy the high yielding $Billion Ukrainian bond the US insured?

pupdog1's picture

Obama spent something like $500 million (for hundreds of millions of lines of code) on a dysfunctional junk shell web site with no security. Friend of Moochelle's, dontcha know.

Thing is, companies that make grid resistors, or who could combine to make grid transformers, probably aren't in the payola business to a profoundly corrupt self-enriching congress.

shovelhead's picture

Of course Congress turned down funding for a rational and mitigating action to a possible disaster that is very real. No tradeable Carbon credits for cronies.

But here's the best part...

Scientists have been noticing a destabilizing effect in the magento-sphere that protects the Earth from Solar radiation, resulting in a weakening of it's protective range.

It seems our North-South polarity is migrating around in certain areas for some unknown as yet reason.

Increasing strength of solar flares + a weakening halo of protective magneto-sphere is not a recipe for success for carbon based lifeforms.

My guess the winners will be those with underground shelters where they can hunt at night for some opossum fricassee.

City folks will have subway tunnels and long pig.

bigrooster's picture

Why waste 150 million on this plan when we could spend another 5 billion to overthrow another country like we did in Ukraine?

DaveyJones's picture

let's kill a lot of people to prop up economic, energy and food systems that kill a lot of people

rsnoble's picture

We don't want to waste money on 'what ifs', and we need to make sure we can send Ukraine a billion bux.  Probably more but that's what we're telling you.

madtechnician's picture

And yet still the ZH Flat Earth Society are telling us that if necessary the Internet will be switched off to stop bitcoin.

Switch off the Internet = Switch off the grid. They are instrinsically connected , *all* grid load distribution data is now routed over TCP/IP. Some people on here seem to think that data is routed in real time by Carrier Pidgeon , I can assure them it is not.

But note most of the grid and internet infrastructure are pretty damn hardened against solar flare activity , most decent buidings will act as a Faraday Cage , as well as equipment racks - it's impossible to cage the extremely long distribution lines themselfs , these pick up huge amounts of DC current which quickly overheat and destroy transformers , but these transformers can have Varistors installed which will automatically earth out large DC currents. This is a relatively cheap way to protect the system.

Hopefully they will proceed with hardening the grid and the internet , while at the same time telling people Obummer has installed an Internet Kill Switch , just to keep the muppets stupid , scared and poor.

medium giraffe's picture

Switching stuff off won't help in the event of a Carrington type event.  Go and read about how the telegraph exchanges just burned anyway.  Fascinating.

"*all* grid load distribution data is now routed over TCP/IP." Well, apart from the stuff using ATM, but I'm sure you knew that.

TBT or not TBT's picture

EMP on the other hand, isn't about a slow overload due to currents induced in transmission lines. It includes an enormous spike of energy across the spectrum that protective circuits can't act quickly enough to shunt/dampen.

dexter_morgan's picture

Hey, we gots our DULY ELECTED prez and all his czars workin on it, so what could go wrong?


Hmmm....why would anyone oppose voter ID laws........

Leto II's picture

Solar flare or EMP, the real problem lies not in the power plants or substations failing, but in the failure of farming and transportation equipment. Almost every person on this planet is dependent on oil to eat. Oil-powered tractors sow and harvest food, oil-power trucks deliver said food to local stores, then people get in their oil-power cars to go buy that food.

If an Solar flare/EMP takes out the electronics on tractors/trucks/cars and renders them inoperable, a lot of people are going to die.

Nearly all fresh water is delivered to homes via electric pumps as well, if you don't die of thirst you will most likely starve.

Long farmland/rural living...and brass and lead...and Au/Ag.

PS...Fuck the American Physical Society and Michio Kaku, shills for Global Warming Propoganda

novictim's picture

"Global Warming Propoganda"

Are atmospheric CO2 levels also a lie?  Stupid people like you will be the death of us all.

Fuck!  We are still just a bunch of clever monkeys playing with dynamite.

forwardho's picture

And yet... you are able to operate a keyboard... Amazing.

novictim's picture

IN a million years you, too, will be able to employ your thumb in using your QWERTY key board...just hang in there...but not literally!

moneybots's picture

"Global Warming Propoganda"

"Are atmospheric CO2 levels also a lie?  Stupid people like you will be the death of us all."


The scientific models showed a continuing rapid increase in temperature.  The actual temperature data did not match the models.  Who are the stupid people?  Seems those who created the models.


Flakmeister's picture


Quit with the bullshit rhetoric....

If you don't think the models are working then explain this


When you take into account actual CH4 emissions, solar output and the like, you find that the 1988 Hansen projection was pretty much bang on...

novictim's picture


Again I ask: "Are the atmospheric CO2 level measurements a lie?" 

Given that thousands of labs around the world can measure CO2 levels with ease, are they all in on this giant conspiracy? 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Misdirection. The question is what effect do, and will, rising CO2 levels have. I don't know anyone disputing modern CO2 measurements, although estimates of past levels are of course estimates, from proxies, and debatable.

DaveyJones's picture

we measure a lot of things in modern life and our measuring has, for the most part, become more accurate and more detailed. The CO2 rise, or more accurately, the RATE of the CO2 rise along with its concentration and along with the many feedback affects - atmospheric water concentration, glacier depletion, permafrost melt, etc is the problem. Anyone who talks about CO2 in and of itself reveals a lot.

It's more than a coincidence that unprecdented rates of concentration and feedback have occurred in complete conjunction with the unprecedented unearthing and burning of concentrated energy that took millions of years to form but were unleashed in under a hundred along with unprecdented deforestation. Hard to think this would not cause some meaningful unbalance.  Hard to think that life systems, along with economic, rely on balance and competition  Hard to say, with a straight face, that this experiment has a precedent

novictim's picture

CO2 is a green house gas.  CO2 also turns into Carbonic acid in the oceans killing shell fish.

Can you please direct me to the "misdirection"?  

You doublt global warming but admit to CO2 level rise?...how do you balance this all out in your head?  What series of mind tricks do you play on yourself to continue on in your denial?  What of Occam's razor?

I Write Code's picture

To be fair, it doesn't necessarily take federal money.  Each state, each company, each plant, can take steps on their own, subject to local rates and such.

mayhem_korner's picture

and ignore the thing most likely to actually get us?


So now you are a crying-wolf prognosticator?  When you say "are we", you reveal your inner socialist.

Edit: Presumably the parable of storing in barns is unfamiliar to you.  Which is why you portray it to a "T".

joego1's picture

Maybe the Homeyland Security can trade one billion rounds of hollow points for some resistors.

whidbey-2's picture

The probabiliy of this type of event is difficult to predict, but if such an event( CME or MEP) were to occur humn recovery is highly improbable; it would be a knock-out punch and could end human life on earth. Any investments made in preparation would likely be inadequate since the after strike period is undefined and probably so varied that little can be done to prepare. Man kind might, at best, commence a new move toward re- evolution, but the question is toward what future??  It is probably not economically worth the cost and redesign of systems to survive since we have no idea how to survive such events, must less finance such preparations. Futility and despiration become major emotional issues for survivors.

 Secondly, The off-grid industry is already massive in some areas, like the western USA.  The current  formulia is rather basic and costly. It is unlikely to we can know what the preparations objective should be: wait for a recovery from other regions? or start off with a different life style objective. Social planning , cooperation and control might be impossible to reestablish. Some areas of earth might survive  due to chance, but we know that in the long run we must ask if life on earth is ever to become sustainable and worth the efforts to build survival systems (Physical and emotional). Earth may be a planet that was "almost, but not quite", able to sustain human life. A failed experiment in biology?

Such an knock out event would throw existing social foundations out of kilter, human culture centuries in the making would be cast in doubt.  God is Dead? Not worth building human  life around group-centered religious notions?  Man is not a survivable strain of life?  Which social objectives are capable of commanding human focus effort? Self destruction at some point is the goal of human life? Has anything changed much??  We dwell in ignorance, as secret existentialists?


GumbyMe's picture

If you want any money, you need to somehow tie it to global warming or global war on terrorism, otherwise there are no incentives for government puppets to spend money to benefit their puppet masters.

mayhem_korner's picture



A nice, fat solar flare would contribute to global warming, no?  Like in Knowing.

Flakmeister's picture

Once again you display your ignorance....

You are truly a broken clock...

Two-bits's picture

Gives a whole new meaning to EE.

Element's picture

Oh shit, flares are coming back into fashion.

Dewey Cheatum Howe's picture

Not only could such a flare bring on hundreds of Fukushima-type accidents, but it could well cause food riots globally.

Bullets cost money, solar flares are free that is why they won't harden the grid. These fuckers want population reduction by any means.

Citxmech's picture

400 Fukushimas could reduce the human population to zero.  I don't think that's what anybody wants.

madtechnician's picture

Extinction Level Event. Nothing would live. Hundreds of thousands of spent fuel rods going up in flames. Including MOX plutonium. Now that would be a reset.

11b40's picture

Just look at who populates the Science Committees in the House, where bills originate.  Looks kind of like the BOD for the Flat Earth Society.




Stupid is as stupid does.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Infortunately the global warming scam is using up much of the oxygen in such committees.

Bastiat's picture

They might do it for 10X the necessary cost if a defense contractor proposes it, though working to save lives by protecting infrastructure may violate the corporate culture, causing cognitive dissonance.

DeadFred's picture

Since the Government didn't want to spend the money on fixing this 'most likely armageddon' possibilty they decided to up the probability of a nuclear weapons EMP event. That makes the flared-based grid takedown appear less of a threat on a proportional basis. Government logic. The worstcase scenarios in a grid down event are truly horrifying. The FSA turns into shambling hordes of zombies searching for food after transportation grinds to a halt and banking systems turn off. It's good to stock up on food now. It's better that no one knows you have the food, at least if you live in Zombieland.

TBT or not TBT's picture

A few good novels out ther about this:
One Second After
A Distant Eden

kurt's picture

One Second After,

A difficult read because it kept going on about gross medical issues and stupid-ass dialog, crap.

Element's picture

Thing is Fred, even if you could preserve the grid in a mild event you can't so easily isolate and preserve all the bits attached to it, like the turbine generators themselves, or the appliances and integrated circuits. It's such a complex issue that it's broadly accepted that failure modes in EMP experiments show that it never occurs in the same way twice. Things always fail in completely unexpected ways, and they don't just fail, they also degrade and become unreliable, but you don't find out, until its caused its share of compounding problems and other failures.

Most of the components in EMP lab and large-scale facility testing simply can't be fixed, and you can't even see or locate where they've failed. They're junk, and have to be re-manufactured, or done without. No refrigeration, no aircon, no water pumps, etc. If every light bulb and appliance in your house, plus every house and public and commercial building in your city and state failed at the same time, but the grid sort of survived somewhat, but the generators are all fried, and mechanically lunched themselves due to lubrication loss and mechanical bearing and electro-levitation failure as they spin down, then you're still screwed for a very long time. Not to mention the millions of electrical resistance overheating fires. The problem is so much bigger than the grid supply.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Surviving the die off, as an individual or small family unit, would require a combination of luck, preparation, and cold brutality that's pretty damned scary, in the all chips are fried + no grid scenarios. I've bought some high capacity water filters, because rhe water supply and sanitation situation would go to hell immediately, and a large proportion of urban dwellers would go out sick from such infections. The notion of nuke plants and storage pools melting down and burning as we learned with Fuku I haven't read of in any of the fictional dramtizations of and EMP or severe solar event. Maybe potassium iodide would help. In an EMP, you are probably in nuclear war too.

Raging Debate's picture

Good find George. This is one area where safe than sorry really applies. Upgrading and modernizing the electric grid has been discussed for decades now.

MsCreant's picture

It also creates jobs that really do something and is not merely "stimulus" and make work. I am in higher education and I cannot tell you how ashamed I am of some of what the "stimulus" money went for. Almost every project was a make work kind of project or purchase that was thought of to "get the money" but did little to help the university become more self sufficient or sustainable. Much of it is stuff that won't even last very long.

Mrs. Cog's picture

Kudos to you GW for continuing to get this information out. These are important considerations for anyone who wants to do more than just roll the dice and hope. Matt Stein is a super source as well. Two of his books are staple references on my shelf When Technology Fails and When Disaster Strikes. Sometimes, making small adjustments and decisions now can mean all the difference later.

I'd like to be a fly on the wall and know the real reason(s) that Congress refuses to address suring up our grid. Who would really stand to gain from such a hideous scenario?

mayhem_korner's picture



One cannot possibly foresee - or even know - of the enumerable ways in which catastrophic events can occur.  Ascribing high confidence to the probability of certain such events is illusory.

steelhead23's picture

"Ascribing high confidence to the probability of certain such events is illusory." - mayhem_korner

This is normalcy bias, plain and simple.  Let's begin by acknowledging that powerful EMPs have hit Earth in the past when human society was just entering the world of electricity.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859

It was not a very big deal (unless you were a telegraph operator).  That is. both the probability of occurrence and the potential effect on society were low.  Further, we didn't understand such things very well.  Hence, it was rational to ignore its implications.  That is no longer true. Given our dependence on technology, our awareness of the risk, and our understanding of how to minimize that risk, it is foolish to not take those steps.  The AER estimates that it would cost the globe about $2.6 trillion if a Carrington-like event occurred today, not to mention the human toll.  Shelling out a few hunderd million to minimize such risk seems prudent.