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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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Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:35 | 4975969 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

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

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:47 | 4976002 max2205
max2205's picture

It's now peak Who Cares

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:54 | 4976011 knukles
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...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:55 | 4976036 negative rates
negative rates's picture

It's called peak policy insanity, and there is no shortage of it currently.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:12 | 4976080 Winston Churchill
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:34 | 4976142 NoDecaf
NoDecaf's picture

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

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 18:47 | 4978080 mjcOH1
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.

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 16:14 | 4980854 mkkby
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:09 | 4976068 samsara
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

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:43 | 4977698 viahj
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:41 | 4976724 Seer
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).

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:06 | 4977012 TBT or not TBT
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.   

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:29 | 4977075 Took Red Pill
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!

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:42 | 4977118 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

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

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:36 | 4975972 Robot Traders Mom
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...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:10 | 4976059 ZerOhead
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...

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:48 | 4976737 Seer
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).

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:36 | 4975973 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

Sure, they'll just nuke us a mile up

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:05 | 4976064 NoDebt
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)

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:31 | 4976133 seek
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:14 | 4976236 Gaius Frakkin' ...
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:44 | 4976310 seek
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 23:10 | 4976358 El Vaquero
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. 

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 23:33 | 4976376 Ralph Spoilsport
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. 


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:03 | 4976753 TMLutas
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. 

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:21 | 4977056 TBT or not TBT
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).  

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 19:33 | 4978338 Ralph Spoilsport
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 20:26 | 4978494 TBT or not TBT
TBT or not TBT's picture

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

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 19:37 | 4978357 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

"...simply hijack a private rocket. "

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

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 00:41 | 4976427 DoChenRollingBearing
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...  

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 01:14 | 4976463 Miffed Microbio...
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.


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:00 | 4976751 Seer
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:50 | 4976856 americanspirit
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.)

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:31 | 4976941 Miffed Microbio...
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.


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:28 | 4977069 TBT or not TBT
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.   

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:33 | 4977083 Citxmech
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:55 | 4977177 Miffed Microbio...
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 ;-)


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:28 | 4977646 Urban Redneck
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 13:04 | 4977206 Miffed Microbio...
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.


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:16 | 4977036 Creeps
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?

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:49 | 4977148 Miffed Microbio...
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,


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 17:28 | 4977971 Creeps
Creeps's picture

Miffed - Thanks, your insight is much appreciated.

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:23 | 4979394 Mr. Ed
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!)

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:39 | 4979555 dizzyfingers
dizzyfingers's picture


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:23 | 4976690 sessinpo
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:34 | 4977088 TBT or not TBT
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)  

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 13:07 | 4977114 Gaius Frakkin' ...
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:36 | 4976713 DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

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

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:31 | 4984580 fallout11
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:12 | 4976243 NoDebt
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.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:52 | 4976329 seek
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.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 04:31 | 4976544 Tao 4 the Show
Tao 4 the Show's picture

There is a whole lot of mixing of apples and oranges here. Solar Carrington events and nuclear EMPs are vastly different animals. Oversimplifying, IMO, is not really helpful.

Carrington events only affect long conductive structures like power lines. But they induce enormous voltages that can burn out equipment either at the end user point or along the line, like transformers, etc. For example, many computers (as well as VCRs, TVs, etc, etc) will burn out with an ordinary spike in a power line, like those from lightening. Think along these lines for Carrington events, but with far, far more serious impact.

The effects of nuclear EMPs are different because of one factor: the rise time of the pulse. For those who know a little math, the rise time is directly related to the frequency components of the EM waves that will result. The idea that "only big structures are affected" is generally wrong. True for Carrington events, but not for nuclear EMP (which has a very fast rise time). The degree to which a conductive object absorbs EM radiation is related to the size and geometry of the object RELATIVE TO the wavelength of the EM radiation.

In short, fast pulses (as in nuclear EMPs) mean lots of high frequencies, which means lots of high field strengths at short wavelengths. Different frequencies propagate differently, so the effects will vary with distance. However, concluding that small objects are not affected by nuclear EMP is closer to wrong that it is to right. Depends on very many factors, and as I said, oversimplifying is not really helpful.

Bonus insight: You can stand outdoors and experience a 1000 V/m electric field during a thunderstorm. However, that same 1000 V/m at the frequency of a microwave oven will cook you rather thorougly. Your body (and small electronics) are very poor absorbers of EM at low frequencies, such as those of a Carrington event. But they absorb well at other frequencies. Lots of former microwave workers around with cataracts due to EM heating of the eye. And the older cell phones were actually pretty good at heating your brain.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:46 | 4976722 DanDaley
DanDaley's picture

All the more reason to prepare and decentralize the grid.


This presupposes that someone among TPTB would want to do something to prevent such an eventuality. I'm not so sure that this is the case (for civilians, at any rate), sad to say...but thanks for your insights, nevertheless.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:29 | 4976281 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

How does it do against Solar Cells?  

It might not matter cause the man would probably steal them after the reckoning....


Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:40 | 4975982 Spungo
Spungo's picture


EVERYBODY PANIC! and buy my newsletter

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:11 | 4976071 Theta_Burn
Theta_Burn's picture

You better pay attention, shill or not hes right.

2 weeks at ground zero in Jersey and i can honestly say that 1 more week without power in the dreg sections and people would have started to be eaten...

When repair crews poured in for repairs, they had a hard time fixing shit they hadn't worked on in a decade or more..

If that CME hit we would have been toast, the grid is our archilles heal, better heed the warning and pay fucking attention

The guys at suspicious observers have your back...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:24 | 4976273 Sedaeng
Sedaeng's picture

Thanks for sharing the link!

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 06:08 | 4976586 Farqued Up
Farqued Up's picture

Anyone having spent a life on the Gulf Coast knows hurricanes up close and personally. When Cat 3 or larger hits WARNING, the stores empty within hours. Without boring with all of the prep details, gas pumps do not work without electricity.

I keep procrastinating but I need to get a few gasoline storage drums with manual barrel pumps and a crank short wave and I'm good to go, the other stuff I have.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 06:09 | 4976588 Farqued Up
Farqued Up's picture

Anyone having spent a life on the Gulf Coast knows hurricanes up close and personally. When Cat 3 or larger hits WARNING, the stores empty within hours. Without boring with all of the prep details, gas pumps do not work without electricity.

I keep procrastinating but I need to get a few gasoline storage drums with manual barrel pumps and a crank short wave and I'm good to go, the other stuff I have.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 06:10 | 4976589 Farqued Up
Farqued Up's picture

Anyone having spent a life on the Gulf Coast knows hurricanes up close and personally. When Cat 3 or larger hits WARNING, the stores empty within hours. Without boring with all of the prep details, gas pumps do not work without electricity.

I keep procrastinating but I need to get a few gasoline storage drums with manual barrel pumps and a crank short wave and I'm good to go, the other stuff I have.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:50 | 4976016 The Most Intere...
The Most Interesting Frog in the World's picture

We had several day power outage a couple years ago. Things got nasty, fast.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:53 | 4976026 Jumbotron
Jumbotron's picture

Yep.....shit gets real when the magic goes away.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:52 | 4976023 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

    The "useless eaters" would make isolated Walmart EBT brownouts look like Happy Camp @ Alcatraz...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:55 | 4976033 robertocarlos
robertocarlos's picture

See that line in the middle of Canada. We are building another $20 billion worth of dams. I'm gonna be rich! Or dead broke.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 20:56 | 4976039 bigrooster
bigrooster's picture

Alright enough good news for one week, time to start drinking heavily!  

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:08 | 4976067 NoDebt
NoDebt's picture

Way ahead of you, Rooster.  Second double of the evening, going down.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:55 | 4976197 Bollixed
Bollixed's picture

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:19 | 4976048 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

A Carrington magnitude event has about a 1 in 100 year probabilty of hitting us. As the article points out the last one occured 150 years ago. Just like Fukushima Diaachi an earthquake/tsunami probability assessment was made prior to siting the plant... no likely problems were expected over a 500 year event horizon... and how did that one work out?

So if I had a couple hundred billion to blow on either a shiney new F-35 project or protecting the power grid from all kinds of nasty threats (excluding the most likely... another false flag...) this would be where I would spend the bucks without question. I know it doesn't yield you one extra megawatt of power but sometimes protecting something you already have and NEED is worth the cost. WHEN... not IF... this sucker hits it will send us all directly back to the Stone Ages (that's just slightly farther back than the Rolling Stone Ages) just as fast as the global nuclear war our  Neocons are currently working on...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:51 | 4976182 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture

You might be happy to know your investment in modern infrastructure might well provide quite a few MVA "extra", at the consumer end of the system, simply by reducing system and line losses associated with old / "leaky" hardware.

Extra available power to the buyer, and better network uptime all translate to happier customers, with maybe an "extra" saving on recurrent costs (fuel, generation plant maintenance will be pretty well fixed, but modernised distribution infrastructure with modern fault location systems, translates to a lower cost of maintenence per line km),

So - you might not have such a hard job convincing the "bean counters" as you suggest.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:07 | 4976228 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Damn... if it makes sense it will surely never be done...


Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:18 | 4976073 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Question for anyone in the power industry:

On the map showing the three regional power grids, there are power lines in black designated "Direct Current". What are these used for? Interconnects?

EDIT: Was just reading that DC is more efficient over long distances compared to AC.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:21 | 4976106 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Nah... high voltage AC is the only way to go over distances...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:32 | 4976134 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

That's what I always thought and why they went to AC.

Furthermore "less investment is needed to build direct current lines, and there are fewer losses in electricity transmission. "However, as most of the lines in the power grid are alternating current ones, converters are needed to change the type of electricity transmission, and they are very costly."That is why direct current lines are appropriate beyond a certain length," specified Larruskain. And this is in fact the use that is made of high voltage direct current lines, to transmit electricity over very long distances; indeed, the longest lines that exist are direct current ones. "There are facilities worldwide that transmit direct current electricity.The typical examples are the transmission lines of large hydraulic power stations: the Itaipu power station in South America, the Three Gorges power station in China, etc."

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:09 | 4976179 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Wow. learn something new every day here.

I remember the early experiments and how DC was the first current used but had transmission disadvantages. Never thought that was due to the difficulty in increasing and decreasing voltages but that makes sense re:  induction transformers requiring AC to generate the required magnetic fields to step up or down voltages... which is not such a problem today. DC also saves on two phases and gives less noisy power. I guess once the AC standard was in place the die was cast and here we are today.

Thanks Ralph.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:11 | 4976242 Marco
Marco's picture

DC never really had transmission disadvantages, they just didn't have the technology to efficiently step it up/down.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:11 | 4976768 TMLutas
TMLutas's picture

DC is making something of a comeback in server rooms. No standards victory is ever permanent. 

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:57 | 4976342 epwpixieq-1
epwpixieq-1's picture

It is wrong to say "and there are fewer losses in electricity transmission"
when compare AC and DC. In order to compare in the real terms one has to say, we compare DC with:

AC at 60 cycles (C) at what Voltage?

AC or with some other frequency more attuned to the Earth vibrations.

Is it AC or Direct Unidirectional Impulses (not DC more like AC, but only one sided, for extreme simplification) at HV

What about AC or Unidirectional Impulses via the Ground without any wires, what actually was the true Tesla invention about "The True Wireless". Actually "Cableless" would have been more appropriate, for "Wireless" currently is associated solely with EM wave guidance through the air, which was  absolutely contrary to what Tesla wanted to express

So one can see how meaningless such a statement is without exact specifications of the compared constructed system, and their variables of operation and the underlying physical medium.

For ones these variables start to be changed the operational characteristic of the systems change in tune with the new multi-dimensionally defined environment.


Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:30 | 4976130 Postal
Postal's picture

DC is not more efficient. The power lost during transmission is P=I2R. Thus, as we reduce current, we get far less power loss. Which is why we use high voltage AC for power distrubition.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:44 | 4976166 Parrotile
Parrotile's picture


You may wish to read up on ac loses, and the necessities (& significant costs) of management of reactive power in extended (long-line) ac networks. The only advantage ac has is the ease of voltage management / adjustment. Dc systems tend to be popular for very long distance transfer (trans Siberia comes to mind) at very high system voltages, however fault mitigation is a particular problem since there is no cyclic zero voltage event that provides for easier disconnection.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:18 | 4976259 Postal
Postal's picture

The only advantage ac has is the ease of voltage management / adjustment.

Uh, that's not trivial--which is why the system is set up the way it is.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:09 | 4976761 Seer
Seer's picture

No, it's a conspiracy against free energy, or some such! </sarc>

Everything has its tradeoffs.  Folks promoting certain "solutions/designs" tend to understand the downsides (and the army of followers, either through their own "intellectual prowes" [lack of] or through programming/propaganda, tend to help propagate nonsense.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:46 | 4976170 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Apparently they are doing the same thing with DC by using HVDC. Less current, less power loss. This is all news to me but I never worked in the power generation/transmission industry either.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:01 | 4976211 ZerOhead
ZerOhead's picture

Lots of potential losses in AC from poorly balanced phases and almost always we see massive loses to ground.

Going to have to re-edumacate myself...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:15 | 4976250 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Thinking about those "smiling phases", I'll always remember what an old lineman who retired from Conowingo Power once told me:

"When you work on 3-phase, only work on or handle one phase at a time. Phase to ground is bad enough but phase to phase is a bitch!"

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:37 | 4977681 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

That's basically how man-lethal electric fences can achieve such lethality with such small electrical input and consumption.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:12 | 4976083 kchrisc
kchrisc's picture


Won't matter when the Petro$ goes poof and the American people realize that all, including them, has already been stolen by or sold to foreigners.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:28 | 4976121 Porous Horace
Porous Horace's picture

National Geographic is way behind the curve. James Burke covered this in his TV series "Connections" in 1978. See season one, episode one.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:13 | 4976771 Seer
Seer's picture

Sometimes a refreshing is in order.   I mean, if someone would have documented things like this back in the 1940s and we were to view it today we'd probably be so distracted by the decor of the era that we'd miss the basic understanding.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:32 | 4976137 Postal
Postal's picture

Anything over a week without power for any modern nation would be a serious problem.

A week?! I can't go that long without making some snarky comment on ZH!!!

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:15 | 4976776 Seer
Seer's picture

Folks here at ZH should look to create a fund so that you can obtain a good UPS.  We wouldn't want you, you know, going postal...

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:33 | 4976138 db51
db51's picture

If the grid goes down...look the fuck out...cause the world population wil explode.   It is a well documented fact that when the power goes out, there is nothing to do save lay around in the dark and copulate.    This might bea well planned strategy to get some additioal taxpers in the oven to pay all of these bankster debts.   My three grandkids won't make a dent in it....they'll need some unsuspecting little munchkins to pass the tab to.   Ths is a win - win for everyone.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:33 | 4976139 Rentier88
Rentier88's picture

Florida tad different, many gas stations have back up generators.  Many people with the means have whole house back up generators as do businesses.  Hurricanes baby.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:35 | 4976148 db51
db51's picture

Those back-up generators won't be much good once the gas supply and propane comes to a grinding halt.  Production and distribution of both will be disrupted.   Yep...jut kiss you ass goodbye, caus once the grid goes down, you're living on borrowed time.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:13 | 4976245 quasimodo
quasimodo's picture

I would also add the hum(or scream) of those gas engines in a residential neighborhood are just a big red flag yelling to others "WE HAVE POWER AND OTHER GOODIES!!".......I have 10kw myself, with a v-twin Honda. That is the most pleasant sounding engine when using it for offsite stuff. A few months ago we had a need at the house when something in town blew, so naturally I hooked it up and fired her up. All was well with the fridge, freezer and some other comfort circuits going. We went for a walk since it was a nice evening, and whilst coming up the street from three blocks away I mentioned to the wife someone must be mowing or something. A block away it occured to me it was the genset, humming along just like a calling card to our locale. The next week two of the neighbors asked how much my genset had cost me and did I like having one. 

Looking back I would not dare run that thing more than a day or two if things get out of hand.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:24 | 4976274 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Roger that. The last time we ran ours after a hurricane, the power company listened for the sound of generators and visited every house that had one running. They were making sure that the generators were disconnected from their lines to avoid a safety hazard for the guys working on the downed lines.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:23 | 4976788 Seer
Seer's picture

I've got a wood stove.  Can you say "smoke signals?"  But I'm way out in a sparsely populated area, where there's also many other folks doing the same.

Your point, however, is a very good one.  It could also be applied to folks doing a lot of shooting- a signal that there may be a cache of weapons and ammo available: yes, "Come get 'em" you might say, but sooner or later you have to sleep and sooner or later there's likely going to be some group that's more heavily armed come along looking to add to their arsenal...  It's just common sense to not make yourself look like a big fucking target! (modesty and a low profile- don't run around flaunting)

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:37 | 4976146 Salsipuedes
Salsipuedes's picture

I beg your pardon but Fukushima has just begun to demonstrate how bad things can get. It and it alone.

Hard choices for perfectly innocent children (EVERYWHERE) is the boomer legacy. I thought all they wanted was little pink houses and a picket fence.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:40 | 4976157 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

Maybe there were some of us who wanted "little pink houses and a picket fence" but many ended up spending most of their money to raise ungrateful, disingenuous and thick-headed offspring like you that can't pour piss out of a boot with the directions printed on the heel.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:21 | 4976268 dexter_morgan
dexter_morgan's picture

Then fucking do something except whine about it and get the shit fixed.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:28 | 4976804 Seer
Seer's picture

Aparently you're not wise enough to recognize that the trouble started when the command to "go forth and multiply" was given, that there were no instructions when to fucking stop. The "boomer legacy" (which is primarily appilcable to only a select number of the world's 7+ billion people) was/is only part of the flawed chain that is "perpetual growth on a finite planet."

If you want to wisen up (only being a ZH member for a bit over three weeks) then look for  (and watch) the presentation "Arithmetic, Population and Energy" by Dr. Albert Bartlett.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:39 | 4976155 Spastica Rex
Spastica Rex's picture

I can see the Columbia River from my house (if I stand on the roof).

Never understood why the terrorists haven't taken down a really big transmission line. They run all over the Washington channelled scablands - huge dams up and down the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Seems like an ATV and some dynamite is all it would take to cause some real disruption.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:56 | 4976200 db51
db51's picture seem way to famiiar with this possible scenario.   Are you planning something?   lmao.....expect the  black fleet of Suburbans to be in your drive before midnight.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:22 | 4976266 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

The reason the terrorists haven't taken down a really big transmission line is because they're too busy killing Palestinians and Malaysian Air passengers. You can't expect the CIA and Mossad to be everywhere.

If you want terror everywhere, think NSA.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:38 | 4976715 sessinpo
sessinpo's picture

The Cabal just called and said your tin foil hat isn't pointed tin the right direction.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:52 | 4976863 Seer
Seer's picture

Um, no.  He/she can be right in that it's quite possible that such action might be precipitated in an preemptive way, kind of like:


the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a Pearl Harbor.

The PNAC document is stated/targeted for application to military systems/planning, but given that today everything seems to be of "national security" concern and that the NSA and Pentagon are firmly linked I could see that some folks within these agencies might think that instigating some event might push forward any "solution."  I pass no judgment on whether this is right or wrong: I have no way of measuring the totality of the complexities of whether it's better to cause immediate pain and suffering or just allow it to form on down the line.  I'll give them all the benefit of the doubt in that they might see this along the lines of firefighters setting up a "fire break."  Regardless, in the end we will end up losing our energy-hungry infrastructure to the the forces of entropy: it'll be a struggle to come up with a campaign of a "war on entropy."  Part of the entropy will manifest itself in disgruntled masses that are no longer served by the System (not members of the "club"): this would be the other orientation of the "tin foil hat" that you suggest.

It's a BIG PICTURE out there, lots of detail that broad brush strokes miss...

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 12:41 | 4977116 FeralSerf
FeralSerf's picture

At one time, wars were fought over sodium chloride. Now they're fought over petroleum, both the access to and the marketing thereof. Money is a form of virtual potential energy.

The "forces of entropy" will continue whether or not we, or something else, lose our energy-hungry infrastructure. It's what entropy does. When one pours hot water into cold water entropy increases whether or not some "useful" (useful to whom: God and Co.?) work is obtained in the process.

The universe is running down, i.e. energy levels, both potential and kinetic, are neutralizing. There is nothing that can be done to stop the process. There are new, as yet untapped sources of potential energy though. If humans are smart enough to exploit them, these sources might help humans survive a bit longer (or enable them to cause their own self-extinction sooner).

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:24 | 4976272 quasimodo
quasimodo's picture

Love the view coming down that hill heading west on I90 as you drop down in the CR basin. That one never gets old.That turnout before you start descending offers a nice view.Been to WA many many times over the years, every trip enjoyable.

I too have noticed the shitload of transmission lines, hard to miss.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 01:19 | 4976465 Nage42
Nage42's picture

Shitload of transmission lines near WA you say?


Over the counter components, working with a single-stage till you get it right, cascade multiple single-stages to make a multi-stage cascade battery...

...shit, if it took a group of scientists in 195x to make it happen, in today's terms that should mean a few post-grads, a handful of micro-controllers, a few Kg of picric acid, and you're off to the races.

So that means, one in the Seatle hub, one near Montana, two near Chicago and Boston, one in NY (just to really make sure Wall St. suffers), and one or two near some big reactors in central = game-set-match.

~$50K for 3 post-grads over 6-9 months of testing R&D, ~$50K seed money materials/instrumentation, ~$20K deployment mission... seems like more "bang for buck" than all these F-35s and aircraft carriers on the "home team's" side...

I'm just sayin.


Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:57 | 4976875 Seer
Seer's picture

Asymmetrical warfare...

It's the crack in the armor for entropy to start.  Got to kick off the war against entropy!

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 01:39 | 4976482 Nage42
Nage42's picture

Shitload of transmission lines near WA you say?


Over the counter components, working with a single-stage till you get it right, cascade multiple single-stages to make a multi-stage cascade battery...

...shit, if it took a group of scientists in 195x to make it happen, in today's terms that should mean a few post-grads, a handful of micro-controllers, a few Kg of picric acid, and you're off to the races.

So that means, one in the Seatle hub, one near Montana, two near Chicago and Boston, one in NY (just to really make sure Wall St. suffers), and one or two near some big reactors in central = game-set-match.

~$50K for 3 post-grads over 6-9 months of testing R&D, ~$50K seed money materials/instrumentation, ~$20K deployment mission... seems like more "bang for buck" than all these F-35s and aircraft carriers on the "home team's" side...

I'm just sayin.


Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:31 | 4976278 PacOps
PacOps's picture

Already have. Less effort than explosives and tracability. Just remove the bolts and wind takes them down in time.

... In February, a 62-year-old Spokane, Wash., man was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for removing bolts in legs of about 20 electrical transmission towers in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

Michael Devlyn Poulin said he tampered with the towers to show how vulnerable America is to terrorist attack.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:20 | 4976686 WTFx10
WTFx10's picture

If there were actually terrorists that did not work for the government.


Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:33 | 4976295 Ralph Spoilsport
Ralph Spoilsport's picture

DuPont built the Hanford Plutonium plant on the Columbia River because they needed a lot of power to pump a lot of water to keep things cool. That and it was 500 miles from the middle of nowhere. It's probably a good idea to stay upriver from Hanford if possible.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:07 | 4976888 Seer
Seer's picture

There's the "Richland High School Bombers" don't ya know?

And from Hanford High School's web site (

Hanford High School provides a safe and positive learning community
Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:45 | 4976168 Buster Cherry
Buster Cherry's picture

I know the case on my standby generator is grounded, and I'm pretty sure the utility company's generators are as well.

Being encased in metal and grounded, isn't the generators components housed in the equivalent of a Farady cage? It would be EMP proof then, right?

I'm not 100% certain and I don't want to test it.

 I hope someone can verify this

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:01 | 4976212 are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

I have a physics degree. If a non operating generator is not hooked up a wire grid that acts as an antinnae it fairly safe with or without a faraday cage unless it has essential computer voltage sensative chips in its operation. Once a plasma storm or emp event has passed, it could be operated as a working generator. THe bigest problem is that power lines in a plasma storm act as an antinnae and pick up the electromagnetic pulse or fast moving electrons that can greatly exceed line capacity and burn out transformers.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:20 | 4976264 Buster Cherry
Buster Cherry's picture

I dont have an avr genset. Just a rectifier to.make dc power to energize the field via slip rings/brushes. Old school.

Generator stays isolated until I throw the transfer.switch.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 21:52 | 4976189 Buster Cherry
Buster Cherry's picture

Don't use gas or propane for backup power gensets.

1. The fuel degrades with time if gas

2, Gas or propane have short lifespans, as hey spin at 3600 rpm. Usually

Diesel engines only. More efficient, safer fuel storage, simple in design and too heavy to easily steal. Always go for liquid cooled attached to 4 pole heads

so they spin at 1800 rpm. Last a lot longr. Use the water circuit for heating too.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:19 | 4976911 Seer
Seer's picture

I'm a fan of diesel engines, I have them (and work on my own), but to suggest that diesel fuel doesn't also degrade, well...  WRONG!

Diesel has a tendency to collect water and to grow algae (two major pests for diesel engines [yes, filter, filter, filter!]).

Of all three of these fuels propane is the most stable over time (though it tends to "leak")

Larger gensets, diesel or otherwise, tend to be heavy and not real portable.  It really depends on what you need to do.  I can do with minimal electricity, so justification for a huge genset just isn't there.  Portability is a plus in that I can move a smaller genset around for use in various locations (even if I wished to load it into my truck and head out): I like to use equipment and tools as much as possible (cost justification)- having stuff just hang around waiting isn't efficient, plus, shit degrades over time- you might think that there's little runtime/use on that equipment, but TIME [entropy] has started to eat away at things.

Best to think "small" and "diversified."

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:02 | 4976217 viator
viator's picture

Don't worry solar power will take care of it.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:06 | 4976226 Parafuso
Parafuso's picture

Long nature!

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:16 | 4976241 PacOps
PacOps's picture

In the 1930s R. Buckminster Fuller (American thinker and non-specialist, 1895 - 1983) realized that if we interconnected the world through an electrical energy grid, we could allow renewable resources in distant locations to supply the energy needs of population centers around the world.


(2) Historic perspective:

When Bucky originally conceived his idea, energy could be transmitted only about 350 miles, roughly the distance from Boston to Washington, D. C..  At further distances the financial losses caused by the electrical resistance in the wires became too substantial.

The electrical energy transmission industry traditionally considers 15% or 20% loss to be the limit of cost-effective transmission.  That was about 350 miles when Bucky thought of the idea for the grid -- making it totally unfeasible at the time.


(3) Technological feasibility reached in the 1960's:

Then, around 1960, Bucky saw that energy could be transmitted cost-effectively (according to industry standards) about 1500 miles, making the idea technologically workable.  From then on, the only things holding back Bucky's idea for a Global Energy Grid have been complacency (unwillingness to change from the way we currently do things) and ignorance about the idea (most people still have never heard of it).

 EMP threat minimized 'cause its all one grid. One down = all down.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:24 | 4976927 Seer
Seer's picture

Bucky was a good guy, but he just didn't apply all the necessary ingredients into his thinking...

Stating that something will work is one thing, stating how it will scale to meet perpetual growth is another.  Yes, it's IMPOSSIBLE to scale for perpetual growth, yet, that's the assumption that is always made, that we'll always be able to scale to meet ANY demand load.  The materials to make up any grid/infrastructure are LIMITED.

Bucky, I'm afraid, suffered a bit too much from conrnucopianism:

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:43 | 4976305 hairball48
hairball48's picture

Makes me glad I live where I do here in Montana. People laughed at me "prepping" back in '09. They aren't laughing so much these days. Things could get bad enough here; you city dwellers are fucked.

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 22:47 | 4976318 PacOps
PacOps's picture

Good on ya! Yeah. I got laughed at for doing the same in '78. Still good to go only now just my daughter and best friend know ... and all of you. ;-)

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:25 | 4976929 Seer
Seer's picture

There's rural area in more moderate climates.  But, if you like harsh winters and all...

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:28 | 4976934 Rock On Roger
Rock On Roger's picture

A little bit of winter keeps the riff-raff out.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 01:10 | 4976462 Max Cynical
Max Cynical's picture

I think it's important to highlight this comment from a reader of Chris' blog...

"I work as a principal transmission engineer for a major utility in the north east.  I specifically work on a multi-billion dollar a year construction portfolio including transmission asset lifecycle replacement.  I can tell you for a certain, world manufacturing capacity is at a hard limit to produce maybe a dozen units yearly for us.   Lead times are near a year, each unit custom ordered to fit the station.   Standing units for replacement in industry are also at very low numbers.  I would argue, if you lost more than 75% of the units in an event, you would be hard pressed to recover in anything short of years.  China is not a rampable manufacturing option, quality is challenging at current production capacities with encumbent entities.  These are sophisticated pieces of equipment.

This remains the most sensitive concern to me in regards to large impact, moderate probability, world events.  And I believe few people are prepared for the world that would exist post grid loss 6months-1year."

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:27 | 4976797 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

So put the grid out and have all nations want many of these units tomorrow and what do you think will happen?
Every single man, woman and child will be forced (at gunpoint) to help get these things running again. Every handyman, fix it guy, backyard tinkerer and super and engineer will be trucked to sites and the ONLY thing that will be done by all of earth is making these things.

That hard limit of years will drop. 

1) Hundred's of millions working to restore power

2) Everyone else forced to make food or maintain the petro fuel infrastructure

3) Everything else is irrelevant

18 months, tops, of a few billion busting their asses to fix this. All freedoms and rights are gone, but the power is up, food is grown, and fuel production resumes.

Look at the USA and WW2. In 1943-44 the USA was building, commissioning, and setting sail, a new aircraft carrier EVERY MONTH.

Now it takes 5 YEARS to make ONE.

Production rate of 60X times LESS.

Do that to the transmission line products the engineer installs and manages.

5 years become a few months at worst.

Install slap dash Chinese crap at first, then go back and install the German made units later.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:31 | 4976940 Seer
Seer's picture

The assumption is that there's ample physical resources in which to manufacture with.

Fine and dandy, but when the NEXT event happens, which it will, then?  Sooner or later the batch of slaves will have had enough with toiling over the overlords' energy sources (which the slaves themselves have little benefit from) and it all becomes history.

The EROEI equation WILL find its settling point of ZERO.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 13:18 | 4977256 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

EROEI is a positive feedback loop of self-invoking stupidity so nothing I write can impinge upon your faith based valuies.

Ample physical resources? The resources have not gone anywhere except for the small amounts fused, fissioned or rocketed off into space.

What would happen is every human would be focused on fixing the grid, making food, and keeping the petro and energy systems ready to be restarted.


I am certain you don't understand that in every country there are millions of people who have hobbies that entail all of the skills that you think no one knows, and if TSHTF the .GOVs would force all these people to rebuild asap 24-7.

You need to look at some recent You Tube videos, all these goofy survival things are posted as offhand videos by people everywhere, and they all destroy most apocalyptic screenplays.

No eyeglasses? Those plastic water bottles filled with water.

No can opener? Turns up you don't need one. Canned food easy to get open and not by bashing against rocks.

I could go on, but you are locked into the EROEI fallacy so I am going to leave you alone.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 14:59 | 4977574 Seer
Seer's picture

You sitll present nothing that disputes that we're on a finite planet and that our status quo paradigm of perpetual growth will ultimately fail.

"No eyeglasses? Those plastic water bottles filled with water."

Plastic degrades.

"No can opener? Turns up you don't need one. Canned food easy to get open and not by bashing against rocks."

As long as the CAN shows up!

"I could go on, but you are locked into the EROEI fallacy so I am going to leave you alone."

I'm sure that you could "go on" and on, listing all sorts of other shallow shit, but thank you for stopping.  As for "leaving you [me alone," no, you're just bailing because you have no logical basis from which to "argue."

Oh, about this one:

"I am certain you don't understand that in every country there are millions of people who have hobbies that entail all of the skills that you think no one knows, and if TSHTF the .GOVs would force all these people to rebuild asap 24-7."

You "knowledge" is shallow, for all that you assume of me is fucking WAY off the mark.  BTW - most around the world don't have "hobbies," they have SKILLS that are used to eek out a living: my wife is from the Philippines, I'm more than aware of what most of the world is really like.  A good friend of mine can make more shit out of used bicycle parts than you've likely ever thought of: one of his latest projects is to capture methane from pig shit.  Yeah, arm-chair fucker, move on lest you get your ass totally trounced.

You have effectively (or, as the case may be, ineffectively) conflated making eyeglasses out of pop bottles with building sophisticated transformers.  Has ANYONE ever manged to undertake this before?  Emotional outbursts tend to make fior some great humor.  Thanks for sharing!

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 04:44 | 4976545 CaptainSpaulding
CaptainSpaulding's picture

I'm surprised I don't see a link to Sears generators. I fixed it

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 05:36 | 4976576 Kina
Kina's picture

US amazing. Willing to throw trillions to the military industialists, but not spend a fraction of that to secure their vital infrastructure. Lobby obviously not strong or rich enough.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 06:29 | 4976593 Snoopy the Economist
Snoopy the Economist's picture

So loosing electricity in summer is more dangerous than winter? I bit short-sighted perspective from Chris - likely because he never lived through a cold winter with no electricity. Without backup wood for burning or gas for the genny then your up a frozen river without a paddle.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:08 | 4977595 Seer
Seer's picture

In winter you can add clothes and such.  In summer you're at the end when your skivvies are shed.  Hot and humid is nearly impossible to deal with without electricity.  In both cases it's best to go slow.

Oh, winter likely presents greater issues with infrastructure, though.

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 07:20 | 4979239 Snoopy the Economist
Snoopy the Economist's picture

Really? The probability of death is much greater due to cold than heat. Heat only takes the very weak while cold will take everyone.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 08:32 | 4976596 Snoopy the Economist
Snoopy the Economist's picture

duplicate entry

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 07:23 | 4976626 vegan
vegan's picture

G. Gornon Liddy
Published in OMNI, Jan 1989



Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:25 | 4976694 Reptil
Reptil's picture

how about the many nuclear powerplants?
they need grid power to keep them from melting down.
they have diesel generators but that's just for a short power outage.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:11 | 4977601 Seer
Seer's picture

Oh, shit!  Yeah, thanks (I htink </sarc>) for reminding us!

Fukushima should be a study here.

And with nuke plants ANY of them failing presents a threat to a LOT of people.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:45 | 4976729 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Speaking of squirrels I seen an owl land on a transformer when I was out riding the 4 wheeler at night drunk. Poof.  I was on a hilltop and seen lights go out everywhere.  Only took about 3 hours to fix though.  Pretty entertaining.  Me and my drunken buddy led the crew to the flashpoint and found said owl.........who was burnt crispy.  Unfort I had no bbq sauce lol.  True story btw.

On other fronts just think of all the luscious 'late payment' fees because no one will be able to make an online payment.  Throw in a few thousand foreclosures as well.  You know the ones on minutes notice.  No power is no excuse!!  Fucking bill collectors taking to horse and buggy.  There could be nukes going off in CA and phones ringing in the next state for late cable tv bills.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:12 | 4977603 Seer
Seer's picture

I get stuff trying to short out my electric fencing all the time: SNAP, SNAP, SNAP...  Sigh, not looking forward to the day that I cannot power my electric fencing...

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:47 | 4976733 orangegeek
orangegeek's picture

diesel and natgas generators for those who need their electricity

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:21 | 4977629 Seer
Seer's picture

And the fuel comes from where?

I'm somewhat fortunate in that I have a fairly big truckstop not too far away from me, in which case I would figure diesel will be available there for as long as it possibly can be made available (to them).  They also have solar panels supplying some of their electrical needs: not sure if they supply power to the pumps or not, I need to check on that.

About natural gas, if there's grid disruption will that gas still be flowing?

I've got propane and it's use is pretty low: am in about 3 years since the last fill.  Not sure if the trucks could refill w/o elecrticity either.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:48 | 4976734 rsnoble
rsnoble's picture

Fyi we just had a storm and were without power for only 1 day and it sucked.  I have 2 generators but they aren't tied in so you have fucking extension cords all over the fucking place plus the neighbors wouldn't start so I loaned them one of mine.

Of course we all got drunk and started the bbq and didn't fucking care after a bit.  Fun n games would come to a screaching halt after a few days im sure.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 15:24 | 4977644 Seer
Seer's picture

"Fun n games would come to a screaching halt after a few days im sure."

Yeah, like when everyone discovers that they're long overdue for a shower! :-)

My wife is from the Philippines.  She's had experience with LONG outages: in early childhood electricity wasn't very ubiquitous.  She has this fetish of cooking over wood, probably ingrained from those days...

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 09:58 | 4976748 Snoopy the Economist
Snoopy the Economist's picture

We went 9 days without electricity during the 09 ice storm in MA. Last 5 days were hell. No genny at the time.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:12 | 4976760 Leraconteur
Leraconteur's picture

You guys in the USA obsess over the oddest things, and it is not universal.

In many places in Asia if the power went out, people would live more or less the same without a few things.

-They would not take how water showers once a week but instead heat the water over a fire and do it from a basin less often.

-Cooking would revert to gas ranges, but most have this set up anyway

Food is mostly local all over Asia as are many of the businesses. So if the power went out you would be apocalyptically screaming that you cannot get a widget or food because it is made 1000 miles away, whilst most in Asia would walk the (at most) 2 miles across town to the place where the work is done by acetylene torches lit by flint activated by hand.

Transformers? They sit on the sidewalk of every town in China >10,000 people. There are several businesses that do installation and repair and they are less than one mile away. They all burnt out? Get the donkeys, get the carts, get 50 guys, and load it up. dun.

Food? It surrounds all towns and villages. Walk a few hundred yards, crops all over, and it's brought in from there to the centre of town in morning markets every day.

Longer duration? People would just burn coal and wood as they do now.

The autos would sit idle, you would not be reading my birlliant missives, and the kids would all stop being addicted to their mobile devices and gaming and the internet.

Look at how Japan handles apocalyptic disasters. Narry a peep.

All nations are not the USA and everyone is not vulnerable to the same things as the USA is.

You guys worry too much - it's an End of Empire trait.

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 11:46 | 4976964 PrecipiceWatching
PrecipiceWatching's picture

You guys condescend too much - its  a Jealousy of a Superior Society trait.

More smug, ignorant bullshit about how the rest of the world is "better", in oh so many ways, than the US.  Undoubtedly the worst, most uninformed posting characteristic of this Site.

How in the Fuck could you possibly know how the US is going to respond in a scenario such as this?


"End of Empire". Put your Pom Poms away.

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