What Happens When the U.S. Electrical Grid Goes Down?

Every once in a while, someone will write a book about a fictional event that ends up coming true. It’s kind of eerie if you think about it.

One example is The World Set Free, published in 1914. Author H. G. Wells wrote about atomic bombs in that book, even though they did not yet exist.

Another was titled Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. This 1888 book predicted the emergence of debit cards.

Famed science fiction author Arthur Clarke predicted the rise of electronic newspapers in his 1968 novel 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Two we hope don’t come true

All of which got me to thinking, ‘Man, I hope Lights Out and One Second After don’t come true.’

Maybe you’ve read or heard about those books. They spell out the unthinkable consequences that could occur if the U.S. electrical grids are rendered useless.

In Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath, former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel says a major cyber attack on the U.S. grid would be “devastating.” And that it is “likely.”

In One Second After, William Forstchen speculates on what will happen if an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) causes a long-term blackout in America. It’s terrifying to read, especially because we know it could occur.

Our electrical grids are vulnerable

I wish we could look at a grid-down scenario as fantasy or science fiction. But we know better.

Our three major electrical grids have been probed and attacked countless times by foreign and domestic enemies. So far those grids have withstood the test for the most part.

But it’s just a matter of time before someone figures out how to dismantle them. If they haven’t already figured it out and are waiting for the right time.

And we also know that an EMP is a distinct possibility. Our enemies have been plotting such an attack for years. And even if they are never able to pull it off, the sun might lend a hand. The Earth is overdue for another massive solar flare.

Predictions about what will occur if the grids go down for an extended period of time include the deaths of 90 percent of Americans.

An imminent crippling disaster

Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told her successor that “a massive and serious cyber attack” against the U.S. is imminent.

And that “a natural disaster – the likes of which the nation has never seen – is also likely on its way.”

Yvette Clarke of New York was a U.S. House Homeland Security Committee senior member.

She said “the likelihood of a severe geomagnetic event capable of crippling our electrical grid is 100 percent.”

Outdated and susceptible

Some folks say that America’s electrical grids are not as vulnerable to attacks as has been reported.

Again, I wish that were true. But every time there is a major weather event, the power goes out for thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. Heck, if a squirrel crawls into the power grid, a blackout can occur.

Our electrical grid is so outdated, it’s laughable. Well, it would be laughable if it weren’t so scary.

Transformers are the backbone of our grid. If they are destroyed, we’d have to have China replace them. Which would take months or years, assuming the Chinese were willing to help us.

Grid-down scenario is terrifying

Let’s face it, folks. Our society can’t exist without electricity. If the cold or heat doesn’t kill people, the lack of food will.

Or the lack of clean drinking water. Or the lack of proper sanitation. Or a complete societal breakdown.

It’s up to every individual to prepare for this inevitability.

We all need to have a back-up power system to keep lights on. And keep heat or air conditioning functioning. And keep important communication devices working.

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