Could The U.S. Rebuild After Major EMP Event?

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Surviving an EMP event will present incredible challenges

Of all the potential nightmare scenarios for disaster, an attack by high-altitude EMP (electromagnetic pulse) seems to be the worst in many people’s minds. The potential for destructionof our electric grid is said to have the potential for setting us back, technologically speaking, by over a century; landing us right in the midst of the 1800s. Since we don’t have the knowledge and tools to survive in the 1800s, many of us would die of starvation, if diseasedidn’t get us first.

I won’t argue this position since it originated with the EMP Commission’s report. A report, I might add, which was generated by the country’s top experts in EMP and its effects. These aren’t conspiracy theorists or fear mongers. They are scientists who believe that such an attack could cause the death of between 60 and 90 percent of our population.

The loss of all of our electronics would be a significantloss to society. But that’s nothing compared to the loss of the electric grid that powers all those devices. Electronic devices can be replaced, but losing the electrical generating capability of our nation, as well as the ability to transmit that power to the millions of homes, businesses and other end-use pointsis a much greaterproblem. Even if the power generating stations themselves canbe salvaged, it willtake decades to restore the entire grid.

Of course, this would be a race against time, as the massive numbers of deaths projected by the EMP commission arefor the first year after the EMP. Considering that the lead time to have a substation transformer built is one year, and there are over 55,000 substations in the country, chances are that death would win the race over the restorationof our power.

But I have faith in our country and even more in our countrymen. The people of the United States are known for their innovation, tenacity, “can do” attitude and pioneering spirit. I believe that these are still there, just waiting for the right circumstances to bring them out.

But What About the Grid?

In reality, I don’t believe that the electric grid would be able to be restored in the aftermath of an EMP. Oh, it might be restored 20 or 30 years down the road, but there just isn’t the manufacturing capability available to build all those transformers and everything else that is necessary. At least, not for the whole grid.

On the other hand, I think we’ll see a lot of activity going into restoring electrical service on a local level, for those who are close to power plants that survive. Unsurprisingly, those will be the older plants, which probablyhave control systems that can survive the EMP. There’s also a chance that nuclear power plants will escapemostlyunscathed, as they are built to withstand the effects of an EMP.

The big problem probably won’t be so much producing the power, as it will be delivering it to where it is needed. That’s why I say that restoration of the grid will start out only on a local basis; local power companies areproducing electrical power and providing it to those who are close enough to their operations, that they can use surviving technology to deliver it.

Even this will require some heroic engineering, bypassing existing controls and modifying equipment. But I believe it will be possible. The big question will then be how much fuel those power plants have available to them. Gas-fired plants won’t be able to run, because they won’t have any natural gas. The ones that will be most likely to be made functional will be hydroelectric and coal-fired plants.

So What?

Will that electrical power do any good? That depends once again on the ingenuity of the American people. The consensusis that an EMP will take out all of our electronics, exceptwhat is in Faraday Cages. But what most people forget, is that there are massive Faraday Cages all across the country, filled with electronic equipment.

The Faraday Cages I’m referring to arewarehouses. Most warehouses, except for the really oldones, are metal buildings with metal roofs. As long as the electronics inside them are not in contact with the building itself, which the packaging does an excellentjob of ensuring, they will be protected from the EMP by the building itself.

What won’t be protectedis the inventory control systems, which are all computerized. Since one of the ways that EMP attacks electronics is by passing through electrical wires, we can count on the inventory control computers being fried, along with their electronic records. So people who know what is in those warehouses will have to physically inventory it, and then probably bring the critical equipment down off of warehouse shelving with block and tackle. But it can be done.

With those resources available, engineers and technicians will be able to start restoring technology, opening factories and hospitals and putting people back to work. Again, this won’t be on a nationwide level, but rather on a local level. How much will be able to be restored in any particular area will depend a lot on the resources that are in that area.

From there, the next step will be tobegin trading between neighboring cities. People will have goods to barter and will have things they will need. If the nearbytownshave those things, business will happen.

Of course, the most significantneed will be food. Rural farming communities will be at an advantage, sitting on the most criticalcommodities in the country. The big problem will be in distribution, which will be extremely difficult, without gasoline and diesel to run vehicles.

In Conclusion

While the things I’m saying here don’t diminish the danger of an EMP attack, they do show that there is a possibility of surviving it. Many people will probably still die, especially in the larger cities. Those cities will run out of resources first, causing people to die of dehydration, starvation, anddisease. But smaller communities will have a chance; how much of an opportunitywill depend on the resources they have available to them, and thetechnical knowledge to make use of those resources.

Ultimately, the United States will survive an attack by EMP. Sadly, many of our citizens will die, andthe country that emerges will probably look much different than it does today. If I were to guess, I would say that it would more closely resemble the nationwe were during the westward expansion, with some variation of modern-day technology thrown in. But chaos would become normal, at least for a decade.

In the end, it will be up to those left torebuild this country. You and I, as preppers, are prayerfully planning on being some of those survivors. That said, it might be a good idea for us to plan on being ready to rebuild the country we inherit, when and if that time comes.

Bring your Bible though… we’re going need some rules. A biblical worldview built this country in the Colonial period and gave guidance during the movement West in the 1800s. It will work again. It’s that kind of book.


The Sun Heats His Off-Grid ‘Passive Home’ – Even When It’s 0 Degrees Outside

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The Sun Heats His Off-Grid ‘Passive Home’ – Even When It’s 0 Degrees Outside

Although Andrew Michler has been working on his passive house for the past 20 years, he admits it is still very much a work in progress.

Located one hour north of Denver and offering sweeping mountain views, the off-grid project started 20 years ago when Michler bought what he calls “a solar shack” for $60,000. “It immediately fell apart, and I have been fixing it ever since,” he admits.

Michler is modest; he has rebuilt that shack and a former shed on the property into an impressive Passive House, which is an international term for a building that focuses on reducing energy consumption by as much as 90 percent. The passive heating design allows the house to stay warm – about 62 degrees – when it’s -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

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The idea for the Passive House does not come from builders, Michler explains, but from physicists. “This entire building is designed in a spread sheet,” he says, adding, “This house is essentially a thermal battery bank.”

Bright, inviting and warm enough inside to allow you to stand comfortably in front of a large pane window wearing a t-shirt during a harsh Colorado winter, Michler’s home features a simple wedge shape. Along with a southern exposure and a location nestled on a hillside, the home also is wedged between three trees, which offer it an energy-efficient canopy.

Inside, Michler says he “decided to erase any labels from rooms and make it as much a continuous space” as he could. “The idea of walls is counterproductive,” he explains. “They just make a small space smaller.”

Two children visiting the home during a recent video interview are drawn to a large second level net bed that works as a place to sleep or to play. From the net bed, the kids also climb into a high window ledge that beckons them with a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. “It almost has become a little clubhouse space up there,” Michler says as he watches them.

The home’s doors and windows are designed to be air-tight, and Michler says that when they are shut, the home will hold its temperature for days. “It’s like a big thermos,” he comments.

In the small, tidy kitchen, he has used equipment designed for boats, including the cooktop, the cutting board and the countertops. Flooring throughout the home is 80 percent plywood, a decision he says he was nervous about at first. He says the floor has held up well, however, and he points out how the different grains of the floor boards add character to the bedroom.

When Michler built his outside rainwater catch and filtration system, it was contrary to Colorado building laws. Although those rules have now been modified, Michler laments that restrictions ever existed against harnessing a valuable natural resource in the high desert.

Michler says living off-the-grid as he and his wife do is not for everybody, and he admits that some of his neighbors have given up and moved back to urban areas.

“You have to know yourself to be out here for any length of time,” he says. “But it is not just your relationship with yourself, but also with your landscape.”

“The forest is very dynamic. … There is a rawness in the landscape, and the inside (of the home) contains a certain level of rawness too.”

Would you like to live in this type of house? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

4 Alternative & Dependable Power Sources For A Post-EMP Society

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4 Alternative & Dependable Power Sources For A Post-EMP Society

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The deteriorating situation with North Korea has created a resurgence in interest in the chances of our country’s electrical grid being taken down by an EMP.

Sadly, the EMP Commission, the nation’s only true experts on the effect of such an attack, is being disbanded after 17 years. And this is occurring in the face of North Korea’s official news agency talking for the first time about using a high-altitude EMP against the United States.

Many people have said that if such a thing were to happen and we were to lose the electrical grid, it would put the nation back 150 years – and we’d be living as we did in the1800s. But there’s one major fallacy with that statement: We don’t know how to live like our ancestors lived 150 years ago.

A modern, industrialized society requires power. We get most of that from electricity, but we also depend heavily on internal combustion engines, both gasoline and diesel. While non-computerized internal combustion engines would survive an EMP without problem, the available fuel supply for them will be quickly exhausted and it will probably be years before refineries are running again.

This will leave us with a major problem. I seriously doubt that people will be satisfied with going back to living as if we were in the 1800s or even earlier. We, as a society, are accustomed to our comforts and we will want them back. But to get any of them, we will need some sort of power.

While some of this power will be used to provide for our comforts, the biggest portion of it will be needed to power industry, which will be relegated back to the cottage industry or at least local industry level. Even simple things, like grinding grain and plowing fields, require energy, more than what we can reasonably expect to have with human power. So much of our ability to survive and thrive will depend on our ability to find alternate sources of power.

1. Renewable electric

While the electrical grid will be destroyed by an EMP, that doesn’t mean that all means of electric power production will come to a complete standstill. I imagine that there are some power plants which are shielded from EMP, if for no other reason than they are in metal buildings.

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But that power won’t do us much good, as the distribution network that we need to get that power from the power plants to our homes will be destroyed. Until that can be rebuilt, which will probably take years, it won’t matter if those power plants are working or not.

About the only dependable source of electric power that will survive the EMP will be that which we have in our homes — the solar panels and wind turbines that preppers like you and I have.

2. Animal power

Before internal combustion engines and electrical power took over, animal power was the main motive power used in the world. Horses and oxen were harnessed to wagons and carriages. But they were also harnessed to the windlass in order to provide mechanical power for industry. Grain mills, saw mills and even machine shops were powered by draft animals in this way. It was slower than an electric motor or internal combustion engine, but it worked.

4 Alternative & Dependable Power Sources For A Post-EMP Society

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Sadly, the number of draft animals in the United States is extremely low right now, as they are no longer used. The horse population, which was at a high of 25 million a century ago, is currently roughly 9 million, relegated to a few private owners, most of whom use them simply for recreation. That’s actually up about 6 million in the last 30 years.

If you have the land to do so, you might want to consider buying some horses to add to your prepping equipment. Of course, that means more than just having land; you’ll need a barn, feed for the horse, saddles, bridles, harnesses and a host of other horse-related gear, too.

3. Water power

The other major source of power used in the 1700s and 1800s was water power. Waterwheels, which are a quaint historic novelty today, were a major source of industrial power for centuries, right up into the early days of the industrial revolution. Like animal power, water power was used for running a host of different equipment.

The great advantage of water power is that it is free and renewable, assuming you have someplace where you have access to flowing water. That means having property on the edge of a river or stream somewhere — something that most of us don’t have. But if you do, you might want to look into how you could harness that power for your use.

Water wheels don’t work by the speed of the water flowing through them, but rather by the weight of the water in the buckets. This is amplified by leverage, with the wheel itself acting as a giant lever. The larger the wheel and the greater distance the water falls, the more the leverage.

4. Steam power

Other than the waterwheel, one of the earliest means of producing mechanical power was the steam engine. This may very well be one of the best means of power available to us in a post-EMP world. The big advantage that the steam engine has over other forms of power is that any fuel can be used to heat the water and generate the steam.

The U.S. Navy uses nuclear power for this, heating water in a nuclear reactor, which is then used to drive aircraft carriers and submarines through the water. While you and I won’t be able to use nuclear power, we can accomplish the same thing by burning wood. It may not produce as much power as a nuclear reactor can, but it has the distinct advantage of being a power source that doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment to harvest. Besides, it’s renewable energy, as well.

The trick, of course, will be in building the steam engine in a post-EMP world, with minimal power and equipment to work with. We will probably have to adapt existing equipment to do so. Nevertheless, the steam engine will be one of the best sources of mechanical power available to use in rebuilding industry.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

Uncovered FEMA Report Warns: 4-10 Years WITHOUT ELECTRICITY After Major Solar Storm

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Uncovered FEMA Report Warns: 4-10 Years WITHOUT ELECTRICITY After Major Solar StormJune 28, 2017

A perfect solar storm similar to one that slammed into Earth in 1859 would knock out the United States electric grid for four to 10 years if it hit today, an unpublished report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) indicates.

The 36-page report was posted this month at, which uncovers old government documents that often are acquired via Freedom of Information Act requests. The 2010 document was titled, “Mitigation strategies for FEMA command, control, and communications during and after a solar superstorm.”

The storm that hit Earth in 1859 was dubbed the Carrington Event and caught telegraph machines – the most advanced technology of the day – on fire.

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Predicting what would happen if that type of solar crashed into Earth in the 21st century, the document says: “Significant power grid collapses may occur in North America and elsewhere; could require 4-10 years to fully restore.”

But even a smaller storm, like the one that hit Earth in 1921, would “could cause large-scale power grid collapse” if it hit today.

The report predicts that Internet, cable TV and telephone service would shut down. Cell phone service also would quickly be lost.

“Approximately 60% of the cellular towers in the U.S. have battery backup only for 2-24 hours,” the report states. “As these towers lose power, large portions of the cellular network will begin to fail. Urban and populated suburban areas are more likely to have cell towers with generator backup with fuel reserves ranging from 1-7 days, depending on location and equipment owner.”

FEMA never published the report, which is dated December 2010. Off The Grid News reached out to an expert on the grid who has frequent contact with government agencies. This person said the report appeared to be legitimate.

“This paper recreates the 1859 event today using the latest research to explain and understand: 1) The nature and effects of radio blackouts, solar radiation storms, and geomagnetic storms; 2) their potential for cascading effects on global power and telecommunications systems; and, 3) the implications for FEMA …in planning for and responding to such an event,” the report reads.

A Carrington-type event would generate massive amounts of energy that would blow out transformers. It is the replacement of these transformers that is of concern to FEMA and other government agencies. Each transformer is custom-made; there are no backup parts. It is not known how many transformers there are in the U.S., but it likely is in the tens of thousands. Each one takes up to two years to build.

“Loss of key infrastructure for extended periods due to the cascading effects from a space weather event (or other disturbance) could lead to a lack of food, given low inventories and reliance on just-in-time delivery, loss of basic transportation, inability to pump fuel, and loss of refrigeration,” is how a 2008 report from the National Academy of Sciences described the aftermath of a major solar storm.

What is your reaction? Do you think America is ready for such a crisis? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Flashback: The 1998 Ice Storm That Left People Without Power For WEEKS

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Flashback: The 1998 Ice Storm That Left People Without Power For WEEKS

When you think of natural disasters that could interrupt the power grid, you probably think of hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. However, it was a massive ice storm that left millions of Canadians and some Americans without electricity and heat for a period of days to weeks in 1998.

Known as the Great Ice Storm of 1998 or the North American Ice Storm of 1998, the huge January weather event was really a combination of five smaller ice storms that struck a narrow geographic band that stretched from eastern Ontario to southern Quebec and Nova Scotia and included a section of northern New York and central Maine. Upwards of three inches of ice fell in some places.

The storm’s wrath killed 35, injured 945 and displaced about 600,000 people. Additionally, the resulting widespread power outage affected 1.4 million people in Québec and nearly 240,000 people in eastern Ontario. The total financial cost of the storm is estimated in excess of $5 billion.

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People were without power for anywhere from several days to several weeks, and, in a few instances, several months, as Canadian workers scrambled to reconstruct the power grid in the wake of the damaging ice. More than 1,000 transmission towers collapsed.

The Weather Channel recently named it the worst ice storm in U.S. history – nearly 80 percent of Maine was without power — although its impact was felt mostly in Canada.

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To handle the crisis, which included the closing of several main roads, more than 16,000 members of the Canadian military were deployed, the largest peacetime deployment in Canadian history.

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Ice storms are not unusual during the winter in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence region, a location where warm low-pressure currents from the Gulf of Mexico encounter cold high-pressure currents from the Arctic. When the two currents collide, warm air tends to rise above the cold air. Then, the resulting precipitation often begins as rain but freezes as it reaches lower altitudes or hits the ground.

Between Jan. 4 and Jan. 10, 1998, however, parts of the St. Lawrence Valley in Quebec received more than twice the amount of icy precipitation they average in an entire year.

Although Kingston and Ottawa received the brunt of the storm, about 2.6 million people — nearly one fifth of all Canadian workers—were either impeded or prevented from getting to their place of employment. Businesses of all sizes in Quebec were severely impacted, and many small communities were completely shut down by the storm.

The storm hit a large location for the Canadian dairy industry. Many dairy cows became ill as the mechanical operations to feed and milk them shut down. To make matters worse, with power out at local milk processing plants, more than 10 million liters (2.6 gallons) of milk had to be thrown away.

Canada’s maple syrup industry also was devastated by the storm, as millions of tree branches were damaged. More than 20 percent of Canada’s syrup-producing tree taps also were disabled or destroyed in the storm, and Québec syrup makers lost most or all of their entire sugar bush. The damage was so severe that it took years for the industry to recover.

As one of the worst natural disasters in Canadian history, the Great Ice Storm of 1998 was the cause of $5 to $7 billion in economic losses, with insured losses from the event reaching $1.6 billion.

Have you ever experienced an ice storm? Share your memories in the section below:

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Gov’t Report Warns: Power Grid In ‘Imminent Danger’ Of Cyberattack Impacting ‘Millions’

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Gov’t Report Warns: Power Grid In ‘Imminent Danger’ Of Cyberattack Impacting ‘Millions’

Jan. 11, 2017

The U.S. power grid is in constant danger of a cyberattack that could cause widespread blackouts and impact millions of citizens, according to a new 492-page report from the Department of Energy that warns if nothing is done to protect the system, the nation likely will suffer.

“The U.S. grid faces imminent danger from cyberattacks,” the report, released Jan. 6, states. “Widespread disruption of electric service because of a transmission failure initiated by a cyberattack at various points of entry could undermine U.S. lifeline networks, critical defense infrastructure, and much of the economy; it could also endanger the health and safety of millions of citizens.”

The report, titled “Transforming the Nation’s Energy System,” notes that the electric grid in the 48 contiguous states is comprised of 21,500 substations and about 700,000 miles of power lines.

It points to the 2015 cyberattack on the Ukrainian electric grid as an example of what is possible in the U.S. That attack — the “most sophisticated cyber incident on a power system to date” – took out electricity for 225,000 customers “after malicious actors remotely manipulated circuit breakers across multiple facilities.”

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One problem America faces, the report says, is that while cyberattacks are rapidly evolving, power grid officials are slow to deploy defensive measures.

“This gap is exacerbated by difficulties in addressing vulnerabilities in operational technologies that cannot easily be taken offline for upgrades, and the presence of significant legacy systems, as well as components that lack computing resources to incorporate new security fixes,” the report says.

For a fix to be successful, the report notes, it “must be implemented by the thousands of private companies that own and operate electricity infrastructure.”

“While cyberattacks on the U.S. grid and affiliated systems have had limited consequences to date, attacks elsewhere in the world on energy systems should be seen as an indicator of what is possible,” the report says. “Threats can emerge from a range of highly capable actors with sufficient resources, including individuals, groups, or nation-states under the cloak of anonymity.”

“There’s the weak-link issue for the whole system,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview, according to The Washington Post. “The reality is, for a lot of rural, smaller utilities, it’s a very difficult job to have the kind of expertise that will be needed in terms of cyber, so we suggest for example, grant programs to help with training, to help with analytical capacity in these situations.”

The economy would “just take an enormous hit” from a successful cyberattack, Moniz added.

Do you believe the power grid is vulnerable to a cyberattack? Do you think President Trump can or will fix it? Share your thoughts in the section below:  

1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

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1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

Image source: NASA

Jan. 5, 2017

January offers us a time for reflection and prediction. For centuries, people looked to the stars for signs of what is to come, and winter offers many opportunities for stargazing.

As we begin a new year, perhaps it is wise to consider not only the beauty of the sky but also the destructive power it holds.

Astronomers pay particularly close attention to solar flares, which are sudden, intense and rapid variations in the sun’s brightness. These fairly common occurrences happen when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere suddenly releases.

A solar flare contains high-energy photons and particles that are equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at once. While regular solar flares are not a danger to Earth, extreme events, or solar storms, could be catastrophic to our way of life.

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In fact, according to a study published in the journal Space Weather in 2012, there is a 12 percent chance (or, one in eight chance) that Earth will experience a catastrophic solar event within the next decade. This “megaflare” could disrupt or destroy modern technology, causing trillions of dollars’ worth of damage from which it could take many years to recover.

Space physicist Pete Riley made the prediction in the study by examining historical data and then making comparisons between the sizes and occurrences of solar flares.

Scientists have discovered that the sun goes through 11-year cycles of activity. During the solar maximum phase, the sun is covered with sunspots, and huge magnetic whirlwinds frequently erupt from its surface. Although it is rare, sometimes these flares burst away from the sun, sending massive amounts of charged particles into space.

1 In 8 Chance Of A Grid-Crippling Solar Storm In The Next Decade?

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The last recorded megaflare occurred in September 1859. Known as the Carrington Event, this enormous solar flare is named for astronomer Richard Carrington, who recorded his observations of the huge solar storm.

Carrington observed an enormous flare erupt from the sun’s surface that sent a particle stream toward Earth at a rate that exceeded 4 million miles per hour. These highly charged particles created breathtaking lights, or auroras, that were visible as far south as the Caribbean.

The New York Times in 1859 reported that New Yorkers gathered to watch “the heavens … arrayed in a drapery more gorgeous than they have been for years.”

Although the lights were indeed beautiful, the Carrington Event caused all kinds of disruption to 19th century communication systems. Telegraph stations caught on fire, and communication outages occurred on a scale never seen before.

In 1989, a geomagnetic storm – not as powerful as the Carrington Event — caused Canada’s Hydro-Quebec power grid to fail, leaving millions of people without power for up to nine hours. A similar storm today would have much more technology to disrupt, and the results would be catastrophic.

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A megastorm on the scale of the Carrington Event could damage or destroy electrical power grids, disrupt GPS satellites and put a stop to Internet and radio communication.

According to a 2008 report from the National Research Council (NRC), a Carrington-like event could cost up to $2 trillion of damage within a year, and full recovery could take up to a decade.

The NRC report stated that, in addition to communication disruption, the event would adversely affect all aspects of modern life, including transportation, financial systems, government services. In turn, the distribution of water, food and medications would be halted.

In the conclusion of his 2012 report, Riley maintained that it is his hope that his prediction would be useful in building an “infrastructure that can withstand such an event.”

“Since the event occurred only 150 years ago, it is a constant reminder that a similar event could reoccur any day,” Riley wrote.

As we begin a New Year, it would be well if we took his advice.

Do you believe America is prepared for a Carrington-type event? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

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The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

Image source: NASA

Mention the words “Quebec Blackout” to an electrical engineer or a solar scientist, and you are likely to be in for a lively conversation. That is because the 1989 event, which lit up the sky across much of North America, was caused by a massive solar storm.

Although solar storms with that kind of power are rare, it as an example of the havoc our volatile sun can wreak on our grid-dependent world.

Let’s look at what we know about the unusual 1989 event. Different sources report different dates on when scientists first observed the mammoth sunspot and resulting enormous solar flare that started the event, but sometime during the first week of March that year, astronomers saw a powerful explosion on the sun.

The severe explosion triggered a cloud of gas that had the energy of thousands of nuclear bombs exploding at the same time, according to a NASA report. As a result of these explosions, an intense geomagnetic storm reached Earth a few days later.

The resulting magnetic disturbance caused short-wave radio interruptions, including interference in radio transmission from Radio Free Europe to Russia. Some listeners thought the Cold War was heating up.

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Subatomic particles from the blast also created vibrant auroras, causing beautiful Northern Light displays that continued for nearly two days. Witnesses in Texas and Florida and as far south as Cuba experienced the incredible light shows – a rarity for southern skies.

TV and radio stations in New Orleans interrupted their broadcasts to tell their audiences about the brilliant colors over the city. In Amarillo, Texas, the fire department went to investigate a possible wildfire after residents reported a large red glowing area north of the city near a river.

The charged particles did more than cause light displays, however. They also induced electrical currents that travelled through the ground throughout much of North America. During the night of March 13, these currents surged into Quebec’s power grid, causing the entire region to lose power for up to 12 hours.

Six million people faced dark, cold homes and workplaces. Officials closed schools and businesses, including the Montreal Metro and Dorval Airport.

Although Quebec faced the brunt of the problems, the U.S. was not untouched by the event. The New York power grid lost 150 megawatts, New England lost 1,410 megawatts, and the service to 96 electrical utilities in New England was interrupted around the same time Quebec’s power grid failed.

In all, more than 200 power grid problems occurred across the U.S. within minutes of the same surge that hit Quebec. None of the U.S. issues caused a blackout, however.

The 1989 Solar Storm That Knocked Out The Grid, Closed Schools & Businesses, & Panicked The Population

Image source: NASA

At the same time, satellites tumbled out of control in space for a few hours, and sensors on the Space Shuttle Discovery also went haywire. The problems corrected themselves after the space storm passed.

Could this type of event happen again? Scientists say yes. Both the 1989 Quebec blackout and the Carrington Event of 1859 – which was stronger and took out telegraph machines — show us the need to develop strategies for coping with a massive solar storm.

Since 1995, scientists have monitored geomagnetic storms and solar flares by means of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, a project jointly run by NASA and the European Space Agency.

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Even with our modern observations methods, however, we still might only get a 12-hour preparedness window for a massive solar storm, according to the 2015 report, “Space Weather Preparedness Strategy,” prepared by the United Kingdom Cabinet Office.

The report said: “Solar activity can produce x-rays, high-energy particles and coronal mass ejections of plasma. Where such activity is directed towards Earth there is the potential to cause wide-ranging impacts. These include power loss, aviation disruption, communication loss, and disturbance to (or loss of) satellite systems.”

A 2008 report by the National Academy of Sciences stated that a widespread power outage from space weather is also possible, and that our current dependence on electrical power to run everything from our financial systems to our water supplies could indeed spark a dire emergency that would cost trillions of dollars and require years of recovery.

In July 2012, an 1859-type solar storm known as a coronal mass ejection nearly hit Earth.

“Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket,” a NASA news report read. “Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.”

Additionally, “the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.”

Said Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado, “In my view the July 2012 storm was in all respects at least as strong as the 1859 Carrington event. The only difference is, it missed.”

Do you believe the U.S. is prepared for a widespread blackout from a major solar storm? Share your thoughts in the section below:


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6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

The American culture survives on a lifeline of electrical wires. This power grid crisscrosses the country, bringing electricity to homes, offices, factories, warehouses, farms, traffic lights and even campgrounds. Pretty much everywhere you go, you can count on being able to plug in and have electricity to use.

It’s a good thing we have the grid, as we use it extensively. Pretty much everything we use today requires electricity in one form or another. Our homes, places of businesses, entertainment and shopping are all made possible by electronic devices. Those devices do everything from pump our gas to heat our homes. They bring us information through the Internet and entertainment through our televisions. They keep our food from spoiling and cook it when we’re ready to eat. Without electricity, we could do little that we do today.

Granted, there are non-electrical means of doing many things that we depend on for electricity. Carpenters built homes before having electric power tools. Homemakers cooked food for their families without the array of electric appliances that we use today. Businesses were able to run without computers. But that was years ago. Today, we are dependent on those thin wires, carrying much-needed electricity into our homes and businesses.

It’s clear that damage to the power grid, whether the work of enemies or due to some natural disaster, would be disastrous to our country. According to the report of the congressionally funded EMP Commission, loss of the power grid for one year would result in the death of nine out of every 10 Americans.

Here are six reasons all of us should be concerned about the power grid:

1. The age of the grid.

Our electrical grid is old. Originally designed to last 50 years, many parts have already surpassed that. There are even parts that are about 100 years old. Yet little is being done to replace the aged parts. This has resulted in the American Society of Civil Engineers giving the power grid a D+ for reliability.

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6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Part of the problem is financial. Currently, the grid needs an estimated trillion dollars worth of repairs and upgrades. Power companies, many of which run on a narrow margin, say they can’t afford to replace aged equipment, so they keep patching it up and using it. This is especially true of the companies who own the oldest equipment.

The other part is governmental. Everything from installing a new power pole to building a nuclear power plant requires an enormous amount of red tape. A wide number of government agencies have their finger in the pie, making the job all that much more complex.

2. Increased blackouts.

According to statistics gathered by the Department of Energy, major blackouts are on the upswing. Incredibly, over the past two decades, blackouts impacting at least 50,000 customers have increased 124 percent, according to DOE data. This is mostly the result of our aging grid; with equipment staying online longer than its programmed life, chances of problems increase.

But we’re not just talking about power plants here. Much of the thousands of miles of wiring that makes up the grid is old, too. The weather takes its toll. Pretty much every major storm leaves people without power, and work crews rushing to make repairs. However, in recent years, those repairs have been larger and have taken longer to accomplish.

3. The war on electricity.

6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Most people have heard of President Obama’s war on coal – which Hillary Clinton supports — but the liberal war on power is much older than that. For decades, they’ve been waging a war on nuclear power, claiming that it is dangerous and that it pollutes.

While both of those are true, the reality of it is nowhere near the hype that is used to demonize nuclear power. In fact, it is one of the cleanest forms of power we have. It is also one of the cheapest sources of electrical power there is, mostly due to the fact that there is almost no “fuel” consumed for the huge amount of power that a nuclear power plant can produce.

Yet government agencies, particularly the EPA, have been holding up the works on building new nuclear power plants.

The war on coal compounds this, working to take away our most plentiful means of electrical power production.

4. Risk of an EMP or solar storm.

One of the biggest dangers our power grid faces today is that of an EMP attack or solar storm. A high-altitude EMP, created by a nuclear device exploded 300 miles over the center of the country, could kill the entire grid, as well as destroying the vast majority of our electronics. Almost nothing has been done to prepare for this threat. Additionally, a major solar storm – such as the 1859 one that took out telegraph machines – could wipe out the power grid.

Both North Korea and Iran have publically stated a desire to destroy the United States. North Korea has nuclear bombs and is working hard at improving their missile technology.

Either of these countries, both of which are enemies, could destroy the United States with one EMP explosion, launched from a cargo ship in the Gulf of Mexico. Even with missile technology as simple as the SCUD missile, which dates back to the German V2 rocket at the end of World War II, a large part of the country’s grid could be put out of commission. With two to three simultaneous attacks, using these simple missiles, the entire country would go dark.

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We have no defenses against an EMP – or protection against a solar storm. Some parts of the military are protected, but not even the government is properly protected, let alone the rest of us.

The transformers within the power grid are custom built for each substation, meaning that there is no inventory of replacements. If several are taken out, it could take months to replace them.

5. Possibility of cyber-warfare.

6 Power Grid Problems That Should Terrify You

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Every day our power grid is “tickled” by foreign hackers, attempting to infiltrate and find ways of taking control and cutting off our power. The cutting edge of cyber-warfare is in China, with Russia close behind. Our defenses against cyber-attack are weak, something you can be sure our enemies know.

It is believed at the highest levels of our intelligence community that China could shut down our power grid at any time. This has already been done in other countries; one example was when Russia shut down the grid in the Ukraine. If they can do it, you can be sure that China can, as well. They started the idea of cyber-warfare.

6. Direct terrorist attacks against the grid.

It wouldn’t take anything as sophisticated as cyber-warfare or an EMP to take down the grid. In 2014, an attack was conducted on a power substation in San Jose, California. While the perpetrators were never caught, many think this was a practice run for a direct terrorist attack.

In fact, taking out as few as nine critical substations in the country could destroy the entire grid, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report. While the locations of those particular substations are a tightly held secret, our enemies certainly are trying to learn where they are.

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Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid — And There’s 10,000 Of Them

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Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid -- And There's 10,000 Of Them

How vulnerable is America’s power grid? The Wall Street Journal recently did an in-depth study to find out the answer to that question, and the results are unsettling.

“Despite federal orders to secure the power grid, tens of thousands of substations are still vulnerable to saboteurs,” writes WSJ reporter Rebecca Smith in the July 14, 2016 edition. “The U.S. electric system is in danger of widespread blackouts lasting days, weeks or longer through the destruction of sensitive, hard-to-replace equipment. Yet records are so spotty that no government agency can offer an accurate tally of substation attacks, whether for vandalism, theft or more nefarious purposes.”

Smith reviewed dozens of reports of break-ins at power stations, including one last year at an electrical substation in Bakersfield, Calif. She discovered that despite federal orders to secure them, the nation’s tens of thousands of substations are vulnerable to attack.

Many substations have little to no security – sometimes only a chain-link fence – and if there is an alarm system in place, the alarms are often ignored.

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Abidance Consulting, a security company, inspected nearly 1,000 substations in 14 states over the past year. “At least half had nothing but a padlock on the gate,” Abidance’s James Holler told The Wall Street Journal. “No cameras. No motion sensors or alarms.”

When one utility lost a set of substation keys when a truck was stolen, the staff didn’t even change the substation locks, Holler added.

A big part of the problem with security is that although America’s grid system is federally regulated, in reality it is an interdependent collection of locations owned and operated by utility companies and grid operators.

The fragile electrical system was basically patched together over the decades since the early 20th century. Major power sources, such as gas-fired generators and nuclear-power plants, are linked with substations to carry electricity over a network of long-distance high-voltage power lines.  Using computerized technology, substations then lower the voltage in order to deliver electricity safely to homes and businesses.

Terrorists Are Eyeing These Vulnerable, Unprotected Parts Of The Power Grid -- And There's 10,000 Of ThemWSJ calls the grid “a giant puzzle that can be configured in different ways to deliver power where and when it is needed.” While Smith the writer, points out that the motive of most substation break-ins is theft, the locations also are a potential target for terrorists who may wish to gather information for a future attack or cause immediate damage to a region.

At a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) meeting earlier this year on grid security, Gerry Cauley, head of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., said the thought of “eight or 10 vans going to different sites and blowing things up” is something that keeps him awake at night. He estimated that recovery from a coordinated attack could take months.

Differences in power demand, which can be sparked by extreme weather and time of day, cause so much variability in the use of the grid that Smith writes, “What causes a catastrophe one day might not the next, which makes security issues complex. Small problems can quickly spiral out of control.”

Human error is another factor. For example, equipment problems combined with human error caused a large transmission line to trip out of service in Arizona five years ago. While that grid is designed to withstand the loss of any one line, in this case, the current shifted to nearby lines and overloaded them. Then two transformers at two small substations shut down defensively to prevent equipment damage. The result? San Diego experienced a blackout. Street and airport traffic was halted. Raw sewage was released into the ocean. And an estimated 2.7 million households were without power in California, Arizona and Mexico.

The National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences in 2012 examined the various parts of the power grid and concluded that substations are “the most vulnerable to terrorist attack.”

“We’ve known we had an issue for a long time and have been very slow to do anything about it,” M. Granger Morgan, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who studied the San Diego blackout, told Smith.

The Foundation for Resilient Societies has called for an analysis of the impact of simultaneous attacks, both physical and cyber, on substations. Thomas Popik, chairperson of the non-profit organization, told the FERC in June that the grid is “a battlefield of the future” that needs military-type defenses.

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Michael Bardee, director of the FERC’s Office of Electric Reliability at FERC, acknowledged to The Wall Street Journal that his agency could do more to study security vulnerabilities at substations.

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Meanwhile, some local power companies are trying to beef up security. The Vermont Electric Power Co., for example, approved $12 million for an improved security program after thieves broke into and stole copper from some of its substations dozens of times between 2012 and early 2014.

With more secure fencing and better security cameras in place, the utility has not had a break-in in more than a year.

However, WSJ found nine recent substation break-ins where theft did not appear to be the motive.

One of these was at the federally owned Liberty substation in Buckeye, Ariz., which is near Phoenix. In November 2013, an intruder cut fiber-optic cables that serve Liberty and the Mead substation near Hoover Dam. It took workers two hours to fix the problem.

Two months later, two men broke into Liberty again and left after they were unable to cut power to a security trailer that had lights and cameras installed after the first incident. Investigators later discovered that most of the new security cameras had not been properly programmed or installed.

The Liberty substation is operated by the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which controls power lines used by utilities serving some 40 million people in 15 states.

A federal audit last year cited WAPA for violations of security regulations, including broken or outdated equipment, poor control over keys to critical locations and failure to install security systems.

Keith Cloud, the WAPA’s head of security, told WSJ that he has received about $300,000 for security upgrades at some of the utility’s 328 substations, including Liberty.

But to protect the system’s 40 most important control centers, he said he would need $90 million. “I don’t have the authority or budget to protect my substations,” he said.

Do you believe America’s power grid is vulnerable to a major attack? Do you think one is inevitable? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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The Frightening History Of Blackouts And Civil Unrest

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The Frightening History Of Power Outages And Civil Unrest


Failure of the electrical grid can lead to far more than just inconvenience and a loss of the lights. History has proven that loss of electricity and the amenities it provides can lead to civil unrest, including riots.

Attacks on the infrastructure that provides our homes and businesses with electricity are far more common and sometimes more effective than we might imagine. News articles indicate that the grid is under constant siege from attackers, ranging from sophisticated cybercriminals to disgruntled employees. Even though the motives of these saboteurs vary widely, their purpose is a simple one: to wreak havoc by shutting off the electricity.

Such attacks can occur in conjunction with civil unrest or they might be carried out with the intention of triggering civil unrest. One reason why the saboteurs go after the grid is that it is highly vulnerable to attack. Such assaults are likely to cause a major electrical outage in the future because the grid is under constant attack.

The United States power grid suffers some sort of attack every four days, a March 2015 investigation by reporters from USA Today and 10 other Gannett media outlets revealed. The attacks occur both in cyberspace and in the real world, with a major attempt to breach computer security at an electrical facility occurring about once a week.

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There were more than 300 physical attacks on electrical infrastructure between 2011 and 2015, Gannett discovered. Authorities have not been able to identify suspects or make arrests in most of those attacks.

‘We Are Without God Now’ — The 1977 New York Blackout

The worst example of civil unrest caused by a power outage was the New York City Blackout of 1977. That grid failure led to widespread looting, rioting and arson. A series of lightning strikes on the evening of July 13, 1977, blew out circuit breakers, which caused power lines to overload with electricity and blow out the system.

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The loss of power led to chaos and widespread looting in parts of the city. More than 3,700 people were arrested, 1,600-plus stores looted, and 550 police officers injured.

“The looters were looting other looters, and the fists and the knives were coming out,” neurologist Carl St. Martin recalled in an interview with The New York Times. St. Martin witnessed the violence first-hand as a medical student at Wyckoff Heights Hospital in Brooklyn.

Some observers used apocalyptical language to describe the situation.

“We are without God now,” Father Gabriel Santacruz, a Catholic Priest at St. Barbara’s Church in Bushwick, Brooklyn, told his congregation after the violence had ended.

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Many observers blamed the violence during the 1977 New York blackout on economic conditions. The worst looting occurred in poorer neighborhoods where people were desperate and angry.

It’s Not Just NYC

In June 2014, angry mobs stormed several electrical substations in Northern India after a heatwave caused blackouts and power cuts, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported. In one incident, a mob set an electrical substation in the city of Gonda on fire. In Lucknow, a crowd ransacked power company offices and took employees hostage.

Temperatures as high as 117 degrees caused the grid to fail, the CBC reported. Civil unrest was made worse by popular anger at utilities, which started rationing utilities as high temperatures created a high demand for electricity.

Power outages can also create riots at colleges. On April 6, 2010, a blackout caused a melee at the University of Washington’s fraternity row in Seattle, United Press reported. A mob blocked streets, set couches on fire and threw bottles and bear cans at police.

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A similar incident occurred at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, on September 16, 2008. Around 3,000 students poured into the streets and began throwing objects at police after school officials decided to keep classes going during a power outage. Nearly 70 police officers from 10 different departments had to be called in.

There are several ways to stay safe from blackout-induced civil unrest:

  • Move. Living in a home that is as far away from the city center and business areas is the best way to keep your family safe. Moving out to the country. or at least the edge of the city, is a good first move.
  • Keep as low a profile as possible. Hunker down and keep safe until order is restored. One reason for this is that it will usually take several days for the regular military or the National Guard to mobilize and deploy to a trouble spot. Another delay is that troops cannot usually be deployed to an area until state or local authorities request their presence.
  • Stay home and off the streets. Do not drive or take long walks or bicycle rides unless absolutely necessary. You should also stay off public transportation systems, such as subways or light rail, because they run on electricity and often shut down during power outages. Stay off of major highways and freeways as well, because they become gridlocked with traffic in emergencies.
  • Examine maps of your area closely and find alternative routes to use during an emergency. Try to avoid major streets and highways.
  • Keep all of your valuables such as electronics, jewelry, gold, coins, silver, cash, guns etc., out of sight. If you have a safe, make sure it is hidden. Moving your vehicles to a location where they cannot be seen from the road or street is also a good idea.
  • Keep an emergency source of electricity, such as a solar generator, on hand. This can help you enjoy a modern lifestyle while your neighbors are blacked out.
  • Stockpile food, medicine and other supplies, and have a bug-out plan.

Civil unrest and power outages are like any other emergencies. You and your family can get through them safely and securely with a little preparation, awareness, knowledge and common sense.

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The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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Determining the specific ramifications after something like a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) attack, or even a Carrington Event-style coronal mass ejection (CME) is kind of a guessing game at this point.

However, one thing we do know is that some of the most horrifying effects of an EMP disaster will occur about a week after our grid gets fried. That’s why I’ve decided to take a visualized journey into what the US might look like, seven days after an EMP — and let’s just say that the state of the union will be a bleak one.


If you live in a city or suburban area, then it’s no secret that when you look into the sky on a cloudless evening, you’re basically seeing a fraction of the stars that someone from, say, an Arizona desert might be viewing. The reason is that the cumulative artificial lighting from your surrounding area – the light pollution — is blocking out the stars. In a city (and other somewhat densely populated zones), you can walk around at night without a flashlight, because the area is practically bathed in artificial light.

(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s show about a Carrington-type sun event, here.) 

After an EMP, however, everything will go as dark as a lifeless desert or wilderness mountainside. Since at this point, people will be running out of battery juice for their flashlights, cloud-covered evenings will be pitch black.

This might not necessarily be such a bad thing, if you’re planning on running your bugout operation under the cover of complete and total darkness.

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But the absence of light won’t be the only “darkness.”

There will be a cognitive, communicative darkness sweeping from sea to shining sea, especially since the methods that we’ve depended upon to exchange information will have been gutted

  • Emergency services will not be able to coordinate or exchange information.
  • The Internet infrastructure in the US will have been completely destroyed.
  • Telephones and cell towers will have been fried.
  • Radio and TV stations will have been destroyed.
  • Even ham radio operators (that have not hardened their systems to EMP) will have nothing but electronically damaged gear.

Most people will have no clue what happened (because let’s face it, most people aren’t aware of these types of threats). It will be a complete and total information blackout and a true time of total darkness in the US after an EMP takes its hefty toll.


The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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If anything, this type of information blackout will become cause for a nationwide sense of desperation. The US is primarily an info-based society, because we currently enjoy the ability to share information and to communicate globally with ease. In a way, that’s what makes this modern digital era such a time, which has been ripe with opportunities.

However, we’ve become extremely dependent on easily accessible information via electronic means, and almost totally independent on word-of-mouth sources (the likes of which were the norm during pre-modern times).

Confusion soon becomes desperation, because not only will people become very concerned that the state of things has not improved within a seven-day timeframe, but they also will have no ability to obtain information as to what exactly is going on. The effects of this will be extremely psychologically destructive. And at the same time, we will have a snowball-effect problem in the works …

  1. EMP strike renders the grid inoperable.
  2. Grid electricity is required to pump gasoline through pipelines and into tractor trailer trucks and locomotives (the primary movers of goods in the US).
  3. Supply chains will stop because tractor trailer trucks and locomotives are no longer going anywhere, due to fossil fuels becoming inaccessible at local pumps.
  4. A complete shortage of consumer goods will occur, since companies can no longer get their goods from distribution centers to retail/grocery stores.

Also within days of the EMP strike, it will become quickly apparent that law enforcement can no longer communicate effectively, thereby disabling their ability to maintain law and order. Looting will likely ensue shortly thereafter.

In addition, dangerous and disruptive aftershocks of this crisis will being to occur on a national scale. For instance, all across the US, flooding, fires and town-leveling explosions will begin to erupt without warning. Not only will many homes and businesses burn to the ground due to the initial electromagnetic wave that causes smaller scale electrical fires, but when entire utility substations begin to leak millions of gallons of flammable-toxic liquids, this will result in major cataclysms.

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But regardless of proximity to massive ecological disasters and multi-kiloton gasoline blasts, there will be hundreds of millions of personal crises occurring. After seven days of people not having been able to use their credit/debit cards to make transactions, nationwide looting in even rural areas will become commonplace.

There will be a temporary run on the banks, but since cash isn’t nearly as common these days, most people will be forced to resort to theft and bartering in order to feed themselves and their loved ones.


Through the culmination of depleted consumer grocery/retail goods, the widespread coordination breakdown and manpower deficiencies of emergency services, and a total information blackout of communication, including the blanket of darkness at night, the state of the union at seven days after an EMP would, in essence, be one of nationwide disorder.

The US would begin its descent into an epidemic of anarchy.

The State Of The Union, 7 Days After An EMP

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At this point, not only would the federal, state and local government be rendered practically useless, but even if they were able to maintain a certain level of solvency, they wouldn’t have the ability to communicate with the population at large.

Virtually everyone, regardless of wealth status, creed, race or gender, will have no possible way of accessing their electronically held funds … and because of the relative newness of the crisis, most people will not yet have thought to adopt the barter system to slow the nation’s economic hemorrhaging.

One week after an EMP, each household and individual will have to provide for and protect themselves, carrying the tremendous weight of the same fundamental responsibilities and capacities that the national law enforcement, military, civil government, and US economic system had been carrying only a week ago.  And since everyone now will have become hopelessly impoverished, having most likely burned through the contents of their pantries at this point, then the US population at large will have reached a maximum state of confusion and desperation … as it takes its final dive into utter chaos.

A Crisis of Confusion

In a way, it isn’t a forgone conclusion to suspect that FEMA will not have to round up a single person to check in at their nationwide franchises. No, most people will probably elect to check themselves in for a free meal and “secure” lodging.  Martial law would be the next step.

Yet in such a crisis, there will be a good bit of hope for those of us who have adequately prepared ourselves in advance. Not only will we have the cover of darkness shielding our escape to the backwoods, but confusion tends to obfuscate the movements and actions of the tactically wise and strategically sound. And so, in the event of an EMP, I would like to say…

On that darkened day of calamity, you fellow vigilant Off The Gridders: I wish you and all of your loved ones a safe, speedy bugout and a flourishing homestead thereafter.

What would you add to this picture of an America, post-EMP? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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8 Simple Ways To Live Off Grid On Less Watts

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8 Simple Ways To Live Off Grid On Less Watts

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How often do you take electricity for granted? If you are like I once was, it happens quite frequently.

Often, I would shut off lights and unplug things when not in use, but I still never really took the time to think about what it would be like to go without power — that is, until I spent more than two weeks after a hurricane in just that situation.

I didn’t like it at first, but after a while, it was kind of nice to read with a lantern by my bed or work hard while the sun was up and relax once it retired. I figured it must have been kind of like how life had been for my great-grandparents at one time. I eventually did get into a routine, and it was at this time that I realized just how much the availability of electricity set the tone of my life.

Just last year I had the amazing opportunity to spend several months off the grid in a very remote location. Although the home I rented had a well-appointed solar system and a back-up generator, there were still some things that I had to “get used to.” It took some time to develop a good working relationship with the solar system, and I prided myself on using the generator as infrequently as possible.

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Of course, the amazing thing about going solar is that you can make your system as large as you desire. For me, though, there was some adventure to working with the system that was in place and having to adjust to the solar power rather than taking power for granted.

8 Simple Ways To Live Off Grid On Less Watts

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For example, vacuuming was something that was reserved for days when there was ample sun and backup power. We did quite a few things differently while we learned to live on fewer watts, and our off-grid experience was richer for the thought we had to put into preserving the free power from the sun.

Here are just a few of the changes that we made to our off-grid lives that helped us use less watts:

  1. We never took a shower before the sun was up.
  2. We never took a shower when the sun was down.
  3. We only did laundry between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., and only one load per day.
  4. We went to bed early and got up early (this proved to be most productive).
  5. We used battery-operated lanterns and book lights for evening reading.
  6. We unplugged everything — the coffee pot, the toaster, etc. – when not in use.
  7. We rarely used the microwave.
  8. We never left the TV on, and we used it sparingly.

I think the nicest thing about living on fewer watts is just the lifestyle that it dictates. You become much closer to nature and the rising and setting of the sun and much more aware of your surroundings. The changes that we made did not come naturally, and it did take time to grow accustomed to them. But after a month or so, we were in a pretty good routine and had more than enough power for our day

I am convinced that the time living fully off-grid made me a more resourceful person, and I am anxiously awaiting another opportunity to leave the grid behind again!

How do you use less watts on your solar system? Share your tips in the section below:

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Can Solar Alone Get You Off The Grid?

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Can Solar Alone Get You Off The Grid?

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When you’re looking to go off grid, there are several options, but you’ll often begin by asking: Can solar alone get me off grid?

The answer to this question is “yes,” but keep reading if you want more details.

Using solar to go off grid is a fantastic way to go. You’ll need to keep the following in mind throughout the process:

1. Cloudy days are fine. Let’s first dispel the myth that you need every day to be sunny to go solar. Solar panels do, in fact, work in foggy or overcast days with ambient light and will produce significant power in those times as well. As a matter of fact, solar panels can work just as well in cool weather as in hot weather.

As an example: Solar panels in Sacramento, California, only produce one percent more electricity than do the exact same panels in San Francisco, California. Sacramento is known for its hot sunny days while San Francisco is known for its foggy, overcast, cooler climate.

2. Monitor your electricity usage. The average American home uses 911 KWHs of electricity each month1. Some states are higher and some lower. But, 911 is the average. Louisiana is the highest with 1,291 KWHs and Hawaii the lowest with 506 KWHs of electrical energy usage average per household.

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We all use more electricity than we need, so consider cutting back. But there are solar system calculators that you can use to ensure you’re getting enough power. Having a little more than you need is far better than not having enough.

3. Off-grid or grid-tied? Many don’t fully understand how grid-connect systems work. With a grid-connect system, you don’t have power storage batteries. You generate power, use what you need and deliver the rest to the grid.

You have no back-up batteries. If the power goes out for the grid, your power goes out, as well. At night when you’re not generating power, you are buying it from the grid. So, you’re selling it to them during the day, and buying it back at night.

If you’re going 100 percent off grid, then you’ll want to go with a battery storage system. This way, you are creating power all day and storing the excess for nighttime usage.

Should Solar Be My Only System?

You most certainly can use solar for your entire energy production and it will generally work out just fine.

If you’re confident that you have more than enough room to have a solar power system larger than your needs and have more than enough battery backup for extended times without generating power, then you should be good to go.

You may, however, wish to consider a second system that also provides as much power as you need. It doesn’t have to be a very costly system. But, putting all your eggs in one basket could be problematic at some point in the future.

Twenty years going 100 percent off-grid with solar would not have been possible. But with today’s advances in solar technologies, it’s not only viable, but it’s practical and wise as well.


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The 1921 Event That Could Kill 280 Million Americans Today

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The 1921 Event That That Could Kill 280 Million Americans TodayOur sun is a very volatile star, with violent eruptions often occurring without us even knowing it.

Solar storms, defined by NASA as “eruptions of mass and energy from the solar surface, including prominences, flares, sunspots and coronal ejections,” are not a direct threat to us here on Earth’s surface, since our atmosphere serves as a protective shield from the explosions. In fact, most of the time, solar storms go unnoticed on Earth.

However, solar storms have the potential to cripple our power grid and communications technology, and, as a result, bring much of the modern way of life to a standstill. Here’s how:

The most powerful solar storms send coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that contain charged particles out into space. CMEs that strike our atmosphere could cause a disturbance of the Earth’s magnetic field, potentially disrupting satellites, interrupting navigation systems and communications systems and taking out power grids for entire regions.

The biggest solar storm in recorded history was the Carrington Event, named for Richard C. Carrington, who observed and recorded the 1859 solar event. It wiped out telegraph machines and sent auroras – normally only seen in places like Alaska and Canada — as far south as Hawaii, Cuba and even Africa.

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Another lesser-known solar superstorm occurred in the 20th century, however, and even though it was long before modern technology, it can give us a glimpse at the devastating effect a solar storm could have on our 21st century lifestyle.

On May 13, 1921, astronomers noted a huge sunspot with an estimated width of 94,000 miles and a length of 21,000 miles on the solar surface. Auroras were observed for the next few evenings across much of Europe, in the Eastern United States and in California.

More significantly, most of the East Coast experienced a communication blackout caused by the solar storm. That morning, the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad shut down due to current charges from the storm. The event also sparked a fire in the control tower at 57th Street and Park Avenue.

The 1921 Event That That Could Kill 280 Million Americans TodayA telegraph operator reported that his switchboard ignited, causing an entire building to soon become engulfed in flames. A similar report of a fire came from a telephone station in Sweden that morning, and the solar storm affected telephone, telegraph and cable traffic over most of Europe.

What does this 1921 event mean to us today? Aside from being fascinating historically, it portends the dire results of a modern solar storm. The impact of a storm today would be far more severe, considering our dependence on technology for so many aspects of our lives, including paying bills, buying groceries, sending emails and even pumping gas.

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American and European scientists have expressed concern that the plasma cloud from a solar superstorm could wipe out vast electronics networks and technologies, causing unpresented havoc. Without electricity, the entire modern-day financial infrastructure shuts down, as does the delivery system for food.

According to John Kappenman, an engineer at MetaTech Corporation, a California-based science and engineering company, a solar storm on the same level as the so-called Railroad Storm of 1921 would affect 150 million people across North America. Resulting magnetic storm currents also could damage transformers that would affect many others.

In all, losses could exceed $30 billion in lost salaries, spoiled food, business closures and other related effects of a huge solar storm. And those numbers could ratchet up dramatically if outages and other storm-related problems persisted for weeks.

Grid expert and Congressional EMP Commission member Peter Pry said in testimony this summer that a storm on par with the 1921 one “could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans through starvation, disease, and societal collapse” because the grid would be down for so long. That’s more than 280 million people. (Listen to Pry on Off The Grid Radio here.)

Experts agree that we may have only 24 hours warning before a storm collided with Earth. How can we prepare for a disaster? The answer is much the same as you would for any other natural disaster – by stockpiling food, water and other necessities.

In addition, it is wise to keep cash on hand, since banks will be unable to process withdrawals during a massive power outage.

If you would like to know more about solar storms or to monitor solar activity, visit or

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