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 Post subject: What if the lights go out?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:01 pm 
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What if the lights go out? ... ?page=full


  • We don’t pay attention to power except when it annoys us -
  • But we’d better all begin paying more attention. The grid, for a host of reasons, may be ill-equipped to meet all the enormous challenges it faces. For so long, the market for doomsday scenarios of powerlessness has been cornered by survivalists prattling on about Mayan calendars and end of days.
  • If our society is more reliant on power than at any time in history - without it, we’ve got no commerce, no communications, no clean water - and if power becomes less reliable in the future, the big question is: Will we be able to hack it?
  • THE TROUBLE with the future of power isn’t that there is one big problem that could croak us. It’s that there are a host of them, any one of which could croak us. Let’s group them into three categories.

    • Bucket No. 1 involves what the insurance-policy fine print calls “Acts of God.’’ Here we’re talking about all those “storms of the century’’ that seem to be arriving with unsettling frequency. Although people can debate the reasons behind it, by now the trend is clear, says Tierney, a partner with Boston-based Analysis Group. “Extreme weather events will be more common.’’
    • Let’s call Bucket No. 2 “Acts of Terrorists.’’ Among these, there’s the old-fashioned physical attack on the bulk power system, either at its source of generation or somewhere along its transmission route. There’s the newfangled cyber attack on the computers controlling our interconnected grid. And then there’s the otherworldly-sounding attack by an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, weapon.
    • Finally, Bucket No. 3 is the “Ailing Grid’’ itself. In many places, the infrastructure is as old and stooped as a pensioner.

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