Saturday, October 23, 2021

When The Lights Go Out Society Grinds To A Halt

It is a simple fact that without electricity much of the world as we know it would grind to a halt. For years mainstream media has mocked people who stocked up on emergency supplies ("preppers") in case of a catastrophe as a bunch of "right-wing" survivalist kooks wearing tinfoil hats. Well, years ago, Ted Koppel's book, Lights Out, moved him into this group. He warns about a possible apocalyptic catastrophe that could knock out the nation's power grid for up to two years and is recommends that people stock up on emergency supplies.

We Are Totally Unprepared For This!

The motivation for Koppel's book was his desire for answers as he wondered, A:) are these people just exaggerating for reasons I don’t quite understand, and, B:) if they’re not, what is the government doing to prepare for it and to prepare the public for it? His research confirmed instinct told him that the answer was going to be "not much", and when he researched the matter it turned out to be close to the truth.

The power grid is the system that connects North America's supply of electricity so that if one area has particularly heavy demand, power from another region can serve as backup. The downside to all this is that because it is interconnected if a hacker manages to take down an entire grid, a huge portion of America along with parts of Canada could lose power. The electric grid operates as a series of networks that are defined by geography, failure in one place can cause failure in another place, which can cascade into a collapse of the system in a large area. 

Koppel interviewed many people, including the last four heads of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense and it appears Koppel got the sense that none of them knew what to do if such an event were to occur. More frightening might be that several of them know that the likelihood of it happening is great. When Koppel spoke to Janet Napolitano just after she left after five years on the job as secretary of homeland security he asked the question, what do you think the chances are of a cyber-attack on the power grid? She said very, very high, 80 to 90 percent.

The Economy Would Grind To A Halt!

While most people view formulating a plan for such an event as the responsibility of the government, it is apparent that those in power haven’t taken that responsibility very seriously, or at least have not come up with a solution yet. At issue is the fact we must deal with the possibility of the power grid failing, but, and because we don’t know of any way to do so we have avoided the matter.

Knowing there is not a plan, and that mass evacuations from places like Manhattan can't be done because we have a situation of too many people and no place to put them should give us pause. Koppel is concerned enough that in his book he recommends Americans put away a three to six months supply of food and water.  While he understands that there are tens of millions of people in this country who can barely afford to put food on the table every day he urges those who can afford it to stock up. Koppel takes the stand that if people do that and if the government has a backlog of freeze-dried food, which lasts up to 25 years, we can probably survive something like this, if not, there will be thousands of fatalities. 

Towards the end of the book, the well-respected veteran newsman quite provocatively lays out the case that in addition to all the wonderful things that it does the internet can be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Also, he makes it clear a major worry is it would not require a foreign government to cause such a scenario to unfold, nor would someone need a ton of money to do it. Someone sufficiently skilled in cyber-warfare, using an individual laptop, can inflict enormous damage. He was told by the man who was the former chief scientist for the National Security Agency, that he believes there are individual groups, possibly a group like ISIS that could buy the expertise, and that the equipment they need is available off the shelf. This makes his warning a very scary prospect.

Poor Planning Means Long Gas-Lines
Those of us that have suffered through a few days without electricity will testify that it changes everything. Because I'm responsible for many buildings and the comforts of the tenants that fill them I'm very aware of the many problems that quickly surface when electricity takes leave. Elevators stop, alarms fail, pump systems, refrigeration, hot water, heating, cooling, communication breakdowns, and more grind to a halt. 

The ugly bottom line is that because everything is intertwined and dependent on electricity in some way or form few things would work. If this occurs we can only pray it comes during a season when mother nature has blessed us with reasonable weather that won't rush to test our limits. Few Americans today softened by city life have the training and knowledge that they can flush a toilet with a bucket of water, my point is that overall we are a helpless lot.

Think New Orleans After Katrina

A lack of electricity takes a devastating toll on items such as refrigerators and this is greatly compounded by lazy, stupid, and irresponsible people. An example of this can be seen following any major storm where power goes out for days. Many refrigerators are ruined by people simply not emptying and cleaning them out before the food within rots and destroys them. Also, security becomes a greater issue. Those of means that may be able to leave the affected area risk looking to return after the power is restored may find many of their belongings destroyed or gone. 

People can't work when businesses are forced to close, and cars don't move without fuel, even city water supplies stop flowing. In such a situation, it would not be surprising to see trillions of dollars of paper wealth based on "faith in the system" vanish in the blink of an eye. Few among us have researched the topic of grid failure to any degree, so I will defer to Mr. Koppel when he suggests that if and when the lights go off because of such an attack, that they will remain off for quite some time, and that power will be difficult to restore.  

When Koppel weighed into this issue nobody in the government rushed to call his claims false. Koppel has no history of bantering about revelations that "the sky is falling," gives credence that his concerns and warning should be given valid consideration. If such an event would occur in the cold of winter the death toll would be staggering, and I guarantee the government would be utterly paralyzed. I also contend that considering the importance of this issue not enough has been done to insulate us from such an event. 

Many of these outages occurring across the world are going under-reported and the blame for them is often placed on the current energy producers. Few stories blame the environmentalists pushing for "green" energy like wind and solar that have added to the difficulties. It should be noted many businesses and those "with means" have started putting in private generating systems. Power outages can be viewed as the "canary in the coal mine." 

This is also a big red flag that highlights the concern many people have about turning into a cashless society, a cashless society that runs on electricity. Power outages should cause pause for those that have no hard copy of records held in the cloud or rushing to buy electric vehicles. I have done a fair amount of reading on this topic and suggest it might be wise or for others to do the same. If they plan to do their search by a computer they might want to do so before the lights go out. When power is lost the feeling you are living in a third-world country tends to rapidly take hold.


Footnote; This is a continuation of a prior post that was recently published on AdvancingTime. See,

 (Republishing of this article welcomed with reference to Bruce Wilds/AdvancingTime Blog)


  1. "Why, would the lights go out? " - if due diligence was done by those with that responsibility - is a question we all should ask.
    Cyber attacks are internet based, and the electricity of the 1960's to 1990's( and numerous other key Public services) seemed to be able to supply us with no 'internet' connections.
    Convenience, expediency and profit, ding,ding,ching/$,£,€,are leading us into this ever increasing danger EVERY day.

  2. You can outsource a lot in your life but you should never outsource your survival

  3. "The common response of the bright green lobby to this is that we don’t need fossil fuels and a host of increasingly rare and expensive minerals today because we have renewable energy. This though, ignores the fact that there is no part of the manufacture, transportation, deployment and maintenance of wind turbines and solar panels which does not involve fossil fuels. More importantly, there is no way that either technology can generate the heat required to build their replacements. Non-renewable renewable energy-harvesting technologies are merely an expensive appendage to fossil fuels rather than a replacement."