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Terrorists could black out large segments of the United States for weeks or months by attacking the power grid and damaging hard-to-replace components that are crucial to making it work, the National Academy of Sciences said in a report released last Wednesday.
While the report is the most authoritative yet on the subject, the grid’s vulnerability has long been obvious to independent engineers and to the electric industry itself, which has intermittently tried, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security, to rehearse responses.
Of particular concern are giant custom-built transformers that increase the voltage of electricity to levels suited for bulk transmission and then reduce voltage for distribution to customers. Very few of those transformers are manufactured in the United States, and replacing them can take many months.
... Newt Gingrich [recommends] a novel that imagines the crippling of the nation and the starvation of millions by unidentified enemies using high-tech methods to fry components of the grid with an electromagnetic pulse. The report does not discuss that possibility, but the appendix does include “electromagnetic pulse” among other technical terms.
The National Academy of Sciences report mainly refers to less sophisticated attacks but also warns of cyberattacks or infiltration of the grid’s transmission operators. “Even a few pernicious people in the wrong place are a potential source of vulnerability,” it said.
The report was completed in 2007, and after reviewing it, the Department of Homeland Security decided to classify its contents. The version released on Wednesday is redacted to avoid handing terrorists a “cookbook” on how to disrupt the grid, the report said. _NYT
As we have seen after Hurricane Sandy and any number of other natural disasters, when the power grid goes down in a modern multicultural society, all manner of mayhem is apt to break out.
Most people are unaware of how easily modern power grids can be brought down.
One of the many ironies of this fragile situation, is that one of the solutions most often proposed by greens and leftists -- the "smart grid" -- would actually make power grids more vulnerable to cyberattack and catastrophic failure.
The recently declassified and redacted document suggests ways in which societies can make their power grids less vulnerable and more resilient. But the NAS is not only a scientific body, it is also a politicised body which maintains a very politically correct posture. Many of the solutions are apt to be non-solutions, and many of the true solutions were certainly omitted or redacted.
The best approach for individuals, families, and small cooperative groups, is to maintain your own backups and lifelines.
Hope for the best, plan for the worst.
By. Al Fin
Al Fin runs a number of very successful blogs that cover, energy, technology, news and politics.