The Electrical Grid May Well Be The Next War's Battlefield

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Chris Martenson via Peak Prosperity,

We talk a lot about Peak Cheap Oil as the Achilles' heel of the exponential monetary model, but the real threat to the quality of our daily lives would be a sustained loss of electrical power. Anything over a week without power for any modern nation would be a serious problem.

When the power goes out, everything just stops. For residential users, even a few hours begins to intrude heavily as melting freezers, dying cell phones, and the awkward realization that we don't remember how to play board games nudge us out of our comfort zone.

However, those are just small inconveniences.

For industrial and other heavy users, the impact of even a relatively short outage can be expensive or even ghastly. Hospitals and people on life-assisting machinery are especially vulnerable. Without power, aluminum smelters face the prospect of the molten ore solidifying in the channels from which it must be laboriously removed before operations can be restarted.

Many types of nuclear power plants have to switch to back-up diesel generators to keep the cooling pumps running. And if those stop for any reason (like they run out of fuel), well, Fukushima gave us a sense of how bad things can get.

And of course banking stops, ATMs are useless, and gas stations cannot pump gas. Just ask the people of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

A blackout of a few hours results in an inconvenience for everyone and something to talk about.

But one more than a day or two long? Things begin to get a bit tense; especially in cities, and doubly so if it happens in the hot mid-summer months.

Anything over a week and we start facing real, life-threatening issues. National Geographic ran a special presentation, American Blackout, in October 2013 -- it presented a very good progression covering exactly what a timeline of serious grid disruption would look and feel like. I recommend the program for those interested.


Grid Threats

We're exploring this risk because there are a number of developments that could knock out the power grid for a week or more. They include a coronal mass ejection (CME), a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device, a cascading grid failure, and malicious hacking or electronic attacks.

It’s the cyber-electronic front that's especially concerning these days, as we depend so vitally on so many systems that operate completely dependent on computer controls.

Many critical manufacturing and power generation systems are especially vulnerable to such attacks, as the Stuxnet virus showed in Iran where it is believed to have ruined thousands of delicate uranium enrichment centrifuges by overriding their commands and causing them to literally spin themselves to pieces.

As one Peak Prosperity member recently wrote:

My great fear is not supersonic missiles, it's a combined-arms cyber attack plus (as necessary) kinetic assault on the power grid, with the "calling card" being left pointing to some convenient domestic extremist group scapegoat.


The FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) released a report that suggested the US power grid could be knocked out for "weeks if not months" by taking out only 9 substations using a coordinated kinetic attack.


Given that one substation was actually assaulted by persons unknown last year:


In last April's attack at PG&E Corp.'s Metcalf substation, gunmen shot 17 large transformers over 19 minutes before fleeing in advance of police. The state grid operator was able to avoid any blackouts.


The Metcalf substation sits near a freeway outside San Jose, Calif. Some experts worry that substations farther from cities could face longer attacks because of their distance from police. Many sites aren't staffed and are protected by little more than chain-link fences and cameras.


So this power station assault actually happened. This whole thing isn't just someone's crazy dream.



You can be certain that such concerns are very high on the list of things that the NSA worries about, and which it feels justify the use of whatever electronic eavesdropping may be necessary to guard against.

A widespread loss of the electrical grid for even one week would be devastating for a number of reasons. First the fuel refining, manufacturing, distribution and delivery systems would cease to function. After emergency generators are used to move and distribute what processed fuel is in the system, are only remaining fuel will be that brought into the country from other regions of the world.

Within a very short time, perhaps just days or hours of what is perceived to be a sustained loss of electrical power, the fuel system will be placed under emergency triage rationing -- with hospitals, nuclear generation plants, the military, police and other emergency services consuming 100% of what’s available. Sorry, none for you.

With every additional day that the electricity is out the damage to the afflicted nation mounts.  Food, fuel, and water, become scarce and sanitation problems rapidly  accumulate.

Here's the thing: cyber penetrations and outright kinetic attacks on US power grid elements have already happened. Given the extreme disruption that would result from any successful future attacks, you should have some personal preparations in place.

Our Woeful Grid

The US power grid, as a whole, is anything but modern and robust. Huge swaths of it were built decades ago. It remains largely a centralized generation and distribution system, one in which the failure of a remarkably few 'nodes' would be catastrophic.

It's millions of miles of lines, utility poles, towers, substations and generating stations. Here's a good, short description:

Today [2003], the US electric power grid serves about 125 million residential customers, 17.6 million commercial customers, and 775,000 industrial customers. These various categories of customers account, respectively, for about 37%, 36%, and 27% of electricity consumption annually.


Electricity is produced at large power plants typically located in remote areas and delivered into high-voltage transmission lines that transport it across long distances to regional and neighborhood substations, where the voltage is stepped down to a current that can be used in homes and offices and fed into a local distribution grid.


Between 1949 and 1973, electricity use in the United States grew at an average annual rate of 8.3%, and the system was able to meet that demand with only sporadic difficulty. Even with rising prices after 1973, electricity use grew at an average annual rate of 2.5% in the years from 1973 to 2006. The growth rate projected for the next 20 years is comparatively flat.


The electric grid encompasses both transmission and distribution (T&D) power grids. The transmission system spans more than 160,000 miles (257,000) of high-voltage transmission lines and connects over 750 GW of electricity-generating capacity with local and regional demand centers across the nation. In addition, the electricity distribution system, which consists of smaller, lower-voltage distribution lines that deliver power from substations and transformers to customers, encompasses 6 million miles (9.6 million) of wire and cable spread across roughly 500,000 circuits and linked to the national transmission system by about 60,000 substations.



The substations circled in green in the image above are the most vulnerable points in the system.

The alternative to this mass of interconnected wires would be a decentralized, smart grid involving a very large number of small generating 'stations' where thousands of failures would be required to cause a sustained loss of power for millions.

But currently?

The loss of just nine critical substations could mean a catastrophic loss of power for up to 18 months. What the country would look like after that, and whether such an insult could be recovered from is an open question.

U.S. Risks National Blackout From Small-Scale Attack


The U.S. could suffer a coast-to-coast blackout if saboteurs knocked out just nine of the country's 55,000 electric-transmission substations on a scorching summer day, according to a previously unreported federal analysis.


The study by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission concluded that coordinated attacks in each of the nation's three separate electric systems could cause the entire power network to collapse, people familiar with the research said.


A small number of the country's substations play an outsize role in keeping power flowing across large regions. The FERC analysis indicates that knocking out nine of those key substations could plunge the country into darkness for weeks, if not months.


A memo prepared at FERC in late June for Mr. Wellinghoff before he briefed senior officials made several urgent points. "Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer," said the memo, which was reviewed by the Journal. That lengthy outage is possible for several reasons, including that only a handful of U.S. factoriesbuild transformers.



The Us grid consists of three big regions, and is designed in such a way that the failure of just a few critical components would drag the whole thing down.

Again, that insult could be a deliberate attack, an EMP device, a CME, or even a squirrel on the wrong transformer on a hot day that leads to a cascading series of failures.

These vulnerabilities could be addressed, but the main point of this report is to note that over the years since they’ve been identified they mostly have not been addressed.

Does all of this seem too unlikely to worry about? Well, you might want to consider that we only recently learned that a massive CME narrowly missed the earth in 2012, the exact sort of threat we covered in great detail in a past podcast with a NASA scientist:

Carrington-class CME Narrowly Misses Earth

May 2, 2014


The close shave happened almost two years ago. On July 23, 2012, a plasma cloud or "CME" rocketed away from the sun as fast as 3000 km/s, more than four times faster than a typical eruption. The storm tore through Earth orbit, but fortunately Earth wasn't there. Instead it hit the STEREO-A spacecraft. Researchers have been analyzing the data ever since, and they have concluded that the storm was one of the strongest in recorded history. "It might have been stronger than the Carrington Event itself," says Baker.


The Carrington Event of Sept. 1859 was a series of powerful CMEs that hit Earth head-on, sparking Northern Lights as far south as Tahiti. Intense geomagnetic storms caused global telegraph lines to spark, setting fire to some telegraph offices and disabling the 'Victorian Internet." A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect on modern power grids and telecommunication networks.



How much did this storm miss us by? About one week. If the earth had been just 7/365 (1.9%) further along in its path, an entire hemisphere would have gotten shellacked. And, oh by the way, do any of you recall hearing of any warnings from NASA or other government bodies in 2012 that such a blast was headed our way and how closely it missed us by?

Me neither. So perhaps we shouldn't count on getting an official warning in the future either.

Conclusion (Part 1)

The main conclusion here is that you should be at least moderately prepared for a sustained electricity outage, at least to the same degree that you carry fire insurance on your property. Both are remote -- but catastrophic -- events where a little advance preparation can go a long way.

In Part 2: Reducing Your Risk To A Grid-Down Event we reveal the vulnerabilities mostly likely to cause prolonged outages of the national power grid: cyber attacks. The current system in the US has a disconcerting number of failure points that can -- and are, the data shows -- being targeted by malicious agents. 

More important, we lay out the specific steps concerned individuals should take at the home level to have backup support and protection should the grid go down. The cost of such preparation is very low compared to the huge magnitude of this low-probability, but highly disruptive, risk.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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Jumbotron's picture

Think Revolution on TV.  Show has been cancelled.  But you can Netflix it.

max2205's picture

It's now peak Who Cares

knukles's picture

Seriously.  I'm gonna go catch the boxing and get a thrill out of watching 2 guys beat each other to death on live television.
Much more civilized than all this war, hate, murder, mayhem and debauchery talk.

Asta lagwegoes!

PS Rollerball is for pussies.  Global therm-nuclear is the real challenge.
Where's Col. Mike Hoare when we need him?  Ah, the old recon by fire.
Good olde days of 5 Commando, the Wild Geese....
Rhodesian cammo...

Winston Churchill's picture

Memories of the "winter of discontent" in the UK come to mind.

A ten minute warning of 8 hour rolling power cuts every day for weeks.

The garbage piled high in the streets, the dead unburied,and all sorts of assorted  fun.

A bit like europe is going to get all winter, I'm guessing, if they keep pissing of Putin.

NoDecaf's picture

Specially trained assault squirrels will be parachuted across the USA from flight MH370 piloted by Bin Laden.

mjcOH1's picture

"But one more than a day or two long? Things begin to get a bit tense; especially in cities, and doubly so if it happens in the hot mid-summer months."

No problems here, aside from dealing with the inevitable chimp-outs. And at a certain age you're at peace with laying it all on the table and seeing who's got what.

mkkby's picture

Don't get suckered by this doom porn, designed to sell newsletter subsciptions.  Destroy 9 key substations OUT OF 55,000.  Not explained is how would a terrist know which 9?  No way they would unless it's an inside job.

Nothing to worry about here.  If you are scared, get the least expensive portable generator to keep your freezer cold.  You only have to run it a few minutes every several hours to stretch fuel out for over a week.

If your fear is EMP, get a cheap used steel filing cabinet.  Makes a perfect faraday cage.  Store your electronic devices in there when not in use.  A metal garage will protect your vehicle.

samsara's picture

My daughter and son in law(30somethings) got me into it.

The Interesting parts are of the day to day living. They're good to project from.

If any of those types of thing happen, The ones who make it will not be lacking in raw materials. Millions of cars,etc. Metals, glasses, already separated from the ore and in fabrication form.

Firefly was cancelled too... Hmm

viahj's picture

Firefly (especially the film Serenity) concentrated too much on the subject of MK Ultra and totalitarianism while showing the possibilities of frontierism.  oh, and the ratings weren't good until after it was cancelled.

Seer's picture

TV, when we're talking about the loss of critical electricity?  Seems kind of disjointed (no offense, just struck me as slightly oxymoronic).

TBT or not TBT's picture

Yes, seeing as water and sanitation systems would stop and never come back on again.   The grid you might do without, IF water and sewage continued pumping (and nuke plants stayed cooled), but without clean water and sewage, you get a massive die off.   

Took Red Pill's picture

Nuke plants not staying cool IS THE biggest  concern. Am I the only one bothered by having to pay a monthly fee to read part 2 of the article? Anyway, it would be pretty hard to reduce my risks if all the nuclear plants are in meltdown. That's game over for all of us!

TBT or not TBT's picture

It is BOTH/AND that must be addressed to avoid mega die offs.  

Robot Traders Mom's picture

Fact: This will be the last place in the world anyone will want to be when Americans go feral. The smart ones have already left...

ZerOhead's picture

I was wondering how quickly that CNN chick who called the Israelis cheering the Gaza bombings (and threatening to smash her car if she said anything critical) "Scum" was going to last... now I know.

Anyway she obviously wasn't taught how the world really works in journalism school... might be a good lawsuit in there for her somewhere...

Seer's picture

"The spokeswoman said Magnay has been assigned to Moscow."

She'll be in good company with Snowden (who probably knows a little about how the Israelis do things).

TeamDepends's picture

Sure, they'll just nuke us a mile up

NoDebt's picture

Both the US and Russia have high altitude EMP "bombs" since the 60s.  They blow up about 100 miles up and will fry anything electronic that's not adequately shielded (think: nuclear missile silos, NORAD, etc.).  They're nuclear, but designed to maximize the EMP damage, not do physical damage.  

Not just delicate electronics like integrated circuits, big stuff.  The alternator and starter in your car, for instance. Or an electrical generator at your local utility company.  The only things they won't fry are chemo-electrical devices like most batteries and people (i.e. YOU will not short-circuit).

Two of them properly detonated at optimum altitude could take down almost the whole east coast.  Their range of damage is VAST.

I'm still betting the sun does a C.M.E. before we EMP-bomb ourselves, though (it actually happened in the 1850s, although there were few electrical devices around back then to feel the effects)

seek's picture

EMPs (and Carrington-level events) don't affect small electronics and barely affect some vehicles (most, even with modern electronics, are largely immune.) Integrated circuits, etc will be fine as there's not nearly enough length of the wires to be any kind of meaningful antenna to the ELF pulse generated.

Anything electrical with a few thousand feet of wire attached, aka the grid, or things plugged into it, are pretty well fucked, however.

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Unless you have some evidence I doubt that. AFAIK there hasn't been much testing done with EMPs after the Cold War especially on integrated circuits. Most things have antennas somewhere... even more so if they aren't plugged in. Also, an EMP is somewhat subjective... depending on duration and magnitude.

seek's picture

There's been a huge amount of testing. But even that's not necessary. An EMP (or Carrington event) develops a known voltage gradient in space, and if you know the length of the conductor, you can make a pretty good stab at the size of the spike. Most ICs have ESD tolerance diodes on their pins that can handle several thousand volts, well below the gradient that would be created at the chip level or even at the device level for portable electronics. Nothing in life is guaranteed, but short conductors = less risk to EMP is pretty well established, and pretty much anything from handheld devices to airplanes has been blasted by simulators at Oak Ridge and White Sands to understand what will happen. Heck, the automakers do EMP testing at white sands regularly.

From all this, the point where by the time say a small radio is damaged by EMP you have much bigger problems on your hands.

Here's a bunch of references in particular you'll want to read the stuff by Metatech if you care about the power grid aspects of EMP/NEMP/HEMP.

I can't go into detail because I don't want to expose my professional life, but my work brings me into contact with people that work directly on this problem in terms of hardening systems, and every professional I've talked with has basically said anything small (be it an integrated ciruit or an iPad or whatever) is a non-issue -- it's big things with antennas (intentional or via long electrical wires) that will have problems.

El Vaquero's picture

I have a relative who worked on EMP during the cold war.  He said that the joke was that it stood for EMPloyment, because we already had a pretty good idea of what it did.  He would also agree with you. 

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

EMP paranoia is getting out of hand so let's downgrade the threat a bit.

A nuke smuggled onto a ship that's detonated at sea level won't produce significant EMP effect beyond the blast radius. If you're within the blast radius, you won't have to worry about your electronic gear getting zapped because it will be burnt to a crisp.

To get a wide area EMP effect you need to detonate at high altitude. This requires a large, sophisticated booster to get it up to 60-100 miles altitude. Leaving out NATO countries, Russia and China have the gear to accomplish this with a good chance of success. North Korea and Iran, not so much. If China or Russia start lobbing nukes at us and detonating them at high altitude, that means the party's just getting started and the health and well being of your consumer electronics will become a lower priority.

All of what seek posted is true. p-n transistor junctions are fragile and can be damaged by moderate voltages under normal circumstances. It's hard to predict the damage to today's electronics but the closer you are to where the EMP's maximum effects are laid down, the chances of damaging a transistor junction go up. It only takes one junction failure to turn your Galaxy S-5 into a brick. 


TMLutas's picture

As we develop more private space launch companies, the cheapest way to loft something to the 60-100 mile altitude radius would be to simply hijack a private rocket. 

TBT or not TBT's picture

Um, North Korea and Iran both have suborbital launch capability with enough payload capacity.  This is old technology and there is no missing ingredient as there is with making nuclear warheads.   The private space companies are competing to develop more economical launch systems.   That is less of a concern for oil and gas rich theocratic regimes or say ISIS crazies.   As to the nukes, the norks have them.  Pakistan has some hundred or so.  And Pakistan is as bat shit as north korea, Iran, ISIS, and most of the Film Actors Guild(FAG).  

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

North Korea has a shitty record with rocketry which is why I said a good chance of success. Their nukes suck as well.

TBT or not TBT's picture

They are optimized for EMP effect and weight.   They might suck worse than you think.  

Ralph Spoilsport's picture

"...simply hijack a private rocket. "

You make it sound easy, like jacking an Escalade from a dentist.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture




Thank you for the insights that I had never read about before, all else I have read was the very scary stuff ("everything will get fried!").

So it's mainly the grid then.  Whew!  For a long time I was actually worried...  

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I agree Dochen, and thanks Seek. I am so grateful to hear from those in the industry give their prospectives and thus tempering the fear mongering.

One of the reasons I had joined was to try and give an alternative prospective to those promoting antibiotic hoarding. Another idea based on fear that could be quite dangerous. I was surprised I could ever contribute to a financial site and had come here just to take notes and learn.

The diversity of those here benefits us all and I am truly grateful to all who share their knowledge on ZH.


Seer's picture

"One of the reasons I had joined was to try and give an alternative prospective to those promoting antibiotic hoarding. Another idea based on fear that could be quite dangerous. I was surprised I could ever contribute to a financial site and had come here just to take notes and learn."

And a hearty thank you for your contributions!

Speaking of antibiotics, I think that we're going to find that rather than trying to kill everything that we're better off looking to emply good bacteria in the fight: I understand this more on a soil/crop/animal basis, but the logic clearly works out for applications that are more directly human oriented.  Not promoting this (it's the only quick reference that I have), but here's a very impressive review of one company's products that employ this tactic:

And then there's this article/documentary:

NOTE: I'm not yet ready to give up soap showering, but perhaps one day I'll be brave (and poor) enough to test it out.

americanspirit's picture

Seer and Miffed - I agree 100%.

On the topic of antibiotics ( and the many, many health-related threads that emerge from that tangled mess), I'ld like to add this:

Parents! Let your kids play in the dirt. Even babies. (Good idea to cover the sandbox to protect from kitty poop but otherwise let 'em get dirty.) They will grow up with fewer colds, fewer sick tummies, a far lower chance of asthma, and lots of other benefits from getting dirty.

And don't go all ballistic when they eat their buggers - it is a natural self-immunzation process, as yucky as it looks. (check out the research.)

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

You are absolutely correct! I try to point this out to new mothers and they look at me in horror. What does a baby do when he encounters an object? Puts it in his mouth! The reason for this is to populate his body with native organisms. If you put him in a "sterile" environment he cannot do this effectively. At a young age the immune system is trying to figure out "self" vs "non self". This is a critical period. When his body is populated with " friendly" organisms, they will naturally work together to keep the bad in check.

I was a severely asthmatic child and my dad died of COPD. I was told this was genetic. When I finally told my Drs to FOAD when they had me on 5 breathing meds and said I would never be cured, my life changed. In 2 years I was completely free of asthma and have been for 8 years. Considering I had been on an inhaler every four hours round the clock for 25 years, this was an accomplishment. One dr told me I was simply in remission and it will probably return. I told him to FOAD. All I had done was to eliminate all processed garbage food, all chemical home products, dealt with my stress with gardening and yoga and detoxed with several juice fasts. No, it didn't happen overnight, but I was patient and determined. Perhaps this is the key. Americans today just want immediate results and grab a pill. I know from experience health is not found in a bottle.


TBT or not TBT's picture

Post EMP, there will be no water sewage service, so have a few really good water filters around.   It will get ugly fast in crowded cities and big swaths of the west.   

Citxmech's picture

FYI - check out some of the advances (mostly in Europe as they are not quite so squeemish about such things) made lately in fecal transplants to repopulate proper bacterial balance in the gut.  Amazing successes there.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

We do these daily at our lab. Highly successful. I wanted to call the area where we process them the Fecal Bank ( I thought people here would find that cute). I was overruled and it is called the official name. FMT. Fecal Microbiotia Transplant. I guess that is more palatable to the general public ;-)


Urban Redneck's picture

The kids can play in the dirt all they want, but then their parents turn around and feed them meat/poultry products that have digested huge amounts of antibiotics, so that the meat/poultry gets fatter quickly, which can't be good for internal bacteria balance in the human body.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Thanks Seer, great articles. I'm always curious to alternative therapies and ideas.

My neighbor makes goat milk soap with essential oils. One way to find a use for all the milk. I'm sure I'm getting some exposure to bacteria from it. Store bought soap is technically a detergent and very harsh on the skin. Maybe I should try the bacteria soap. With all the horrible pathogens I deal with daily, I'm always looking to add some good ones to my world.


Creeps's picture


What about fish antibiotics?  Much of the survivial info says to store these types of anitbiotics.  Would you say this is unsafe?

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

I did comment on this issue with this analogy.

Suppose I were to hand you a gun and tell you to go into a dark room. In this room there are 100 people. 85 of them are good and 15 are bad. Could you be confident you could kill the good ones only? Of course not because anyone knows that you don't shoot a gun unless you have a sure target. I chose those numbers specifically because in a normally healthy individual, this is the ratio of bacteria found in the human body.

In an infection, the bad bacteria are rapidly growing. There could be a point where to save your life you would need an antibiotic. However, today there is a high probability this type of infection would require POWERFUL antibiotics. I have seen people die daily of infections on the highest dose of the most powerful antibiotics available today. I am talking of Staph, strep, enterococcus, ecoli, pseudomonas...commonly encountered. A good comparison is these antibiotics are howitzers and the fish antibiotics are pea shooters. In the early 1900s, fish antibiotics could be effective because the bacteria would have little resistance. Now? Not a fucking chance in Hell. Taking these ineffective antibiotics would not only be useless but even more damaging because they could kill some of the friendly bacteria and leave you even more open to infections.

So would it be advantageous to hoard the "howitzer" antibiotics? Absolutely not! Many of these drugs are IV only and must be administered in a hospital setting where you are monitored so not to die while taking them. This is how dangerous they are and yes I have seen people die from liver failure from these drugs. The other problem is shooting in the dark room. You MUST know your target. This is where I get frantic calls from Drs. They know they can't treat a severe infection without knowing what they are dealing with and must wait for me to provide the answer. They treat the patient with a broad spectrum and pray, then switch to a specific antibiotic more appropriate to what I say it is.

Believe me, in this modern world antibiotics are rapidly becoming useless and no, I do not hoard them. I recommend you not be caught up in the Fish Mox craze. I'm sure someone is profiting from it.

Hope this helps,


Creeps's picture

Miffed - Thanks, your insight is much appreciated.

Mr. Ed's picture

Mifffed -

Pertaining to your comments on antibiotics: in a world that is breaking down, medicines of any kind may be difficult to obtain, and many will die from ordinary infections as they are stressed out by fear, anxiety and sleep deprivation.

Though not widely known, it is possible to protect yourself against nearly all local and systemic infections by following a personalized diet.  Building on what is known about "food sensitivities" (not the same as food allergies) the immunie system can made to function far more effiently than it does for the average person by further optimizing diet.  Pressure point release of muscle tension is the other big factor, but there's lots of information out there about that (Prudden, Feldenkrais, many others).

But focusing on diet; It is necessary to keep a food diary (probably for years) making many thousands of observations.  This would be an very extreme example of what most people think of as mindfulness.  Ha-ha!  But if you have the will to do it, you can become like that guy in the movie Unbreakable.  At least, this has been my experience (not sure about surviving a train wreck... but the getting sick part... you CAN become unbreakable).

Most people In ordinary times (if they actually did ferret out the correct foods to avoid) would have trouble finding a restaurant - anywhere.  You'd soon get a reputation for being a little nutty (finicky) because almost all fast foods contain a selection of ingredients (see the fine print) such that at least one will take average person's immune system down a notch or two.  And many so-called health foods contain corn, sugar, wheat, milk, soy, etc. in a singe dish which will swack most of those dining out. 

But if you carried this personalized knowledge around with you, and began using it immediately in a time of disaster, you'd never get sick to begin with.  Let others have the medicine - they'd need it, you won't.


PS:  This notion is not likely to  become popular with drug companies, the food industry - or most doctors for that matter.

I would also expect the special relationship that exists between the food, the drug industry and the medical community would suffer if people suddenly started eating to strengthen their immune response to bacterial and viral infections, cancer, skin and digestive disorders, etc. and turn their backs on drugs  The impact on everyone's bottom line would be just heartbreaking.  (uh, so tragic!)

sessinpo's picture

Standard CMOS chips sustain damage with as little as 250V. These include the 74HC and 74HCT logic families are widely used in many designs using "glue logic" because of their lower current consumption. However many of the new microprocessors and LSI chips use very much smaller feature sizes, and cannot withstand anything like these voltages, making them very sensitive to ESD. Many new devices would be destroyed by operating them with a supply voltage of 5 V, and they are corresponding more susceptible to damage from ESD.


And from your link.

the automakers do EMP testing at white sands regularly.

So, the missile range has subjected computer chips and whole cars to all kinds of electromagnetic radiation in order to prove that such devices will not fire unintentionally.

When the testing first started several years ago range officials thought it was a good story and asked the automobile companies if the range could invite the news media out. The answer was a firm, "No."

Not only can we not tell you much about the testing, at the request of the companies, but range personnel report the automakers sometimes arrive with their cars wrapped in brown paper so no one can see them. Apparently some of the cars are advance models and manufacturers don´t want anyone to see the new designs until the appropriate time. Secrecy wears many hats and is certainly no stranger to business.

At a time of cuts in the military this commercial testing has been welcome at White Sands and contributes to maintaining the current workforce.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Which is to say, the results were extremely frightening.   And would encourage psycho states like Iran and North Korea, SPECTRE and ISIS to carry on with greater resources and enthusiasm.   They think the 7th century was peachy.   (In the case of SPECTRE, they hail from the vacuum tube age of early Bond films)  

Gaius Frakkin' Baltar's picture

Yes, that is correct, not all CMOS is ESD safe and I've damaged countless "ESD safe" components when prototyping. The Gates on MOSFETs are incredibly sensitive to ESD and I doubt the transceivers on all these networked devices are capable of surviving an EMP of sufficient duration and magnitude (what is the maximum conceivable, do we even know?). But as seek mentioned, it's pointless to debate whether your smart-phone or IPAD will be working if the grid is down... so I rest my case.

DanDaley's picture

So, your computer will work, but you just won't have power for it? (No least not much).

fallout11's picture

Seek is right on point. Most vehicles are largely immune to EMP level effects, since your car acts a bit like a big Faraday cage. Most military vehicles (at least those procured prior to 1995, the end of my experience with them) are specifically manufactured to be resistant to EMP.

NoDebt's picture

Understood and thank you for the clarification.  The reason I mention the starter and alternator specifically is because they have a tremedous length of wires inside of them, just in a very compact space (the "windings" as they are called).  The problem with the IC stuff is that it's often hard-wired to some other electrical system that WOULD take a hit.  It may not fry your iPad, but if your iPad happens to be plugged into the electrical grid and charging at the time....

Let's just hope we never have to find out.  The effect on a modern electrically-dependent society like the US would be DEVASTATING.  It's our achilles heel.  Technology is great when it works.  When it stops working in anything close to a permanent manner, it becomes your worst nightmare.

seek's picture

From a society level, small devices surviving is sort of a moot point obviously, if there's no grid to charge them. And cars will still run (even with alternators, this does get tested regularly) but that next tank of gas probably won't be coming out of the ground any time soon if the grid is gone.

From a personal level, it means your AimPoint and handheld radios are still going to work after an event.

I agree, if the grid is lost, it's going to be close to game over for the US. I'm positive tens of millions would die of the consequences. All the more reason to prepare and decentralize the grid.