BLACKOUT USA – A Real Life Nightmare Nearer Than You Think
Four days before Halloween, on Sunday morning, October 27, 2013, terrorists in Mexico’s Michoacan state blacked out the electric grid, leaving some 420,000 powerless and thirteen dead. That same Sunday night, National Geographic aired the docudrama American Blackout. This fictionalized account of a cyber attack on the electric grid depicts some of the horrific consequences of a nationwide blackout lasting 10 days:
People get trapped in elevators and become virtual prisoners in their high-rise apartment buildings. Gasoline is rationed to the military and hospitals, so the average American has no transportation–except for his legs. Food and water become so scarce that there is a life and death struggle over a can of peaches. Before day 10 of the blackout, society starts breaking down into anarchy as gangs and vigilante groups run wild.One of the heroes of the docudrama, a survivalist who is prepared for anything and does everything right, except for one seemingly small and humane mistake, is about to have his throat cut, when electric power, and civilization, suddenly returns on day 10.
National Geographic is to be applauded for American Blackout which is essentially a training film to educate the American people about the very real threat posed to their lives by a cyber attack on the electric grid. If there is any fault or unrealism in the docudrama, it is that the blackout lasts only 10 days, and recovery is achieved so quickly.
In real life, terrorists or rogue states would probably not limit their attack on the nation’s electric grid to computer viruses or hacking, as implied in the docudrama. They would also use other more destructive means–that could cause a protracted national blackout lasting months or years.
Moreover, Mother Nature can inflict a potentially protracted national blackout. Regardless of how one weighs the threat to the national grid from terrorists or rogue states–the Sun will, sooner or later, hurl toward the Earth a geomagnetic super-storm, with catastrophic consequences for the national electric grid.
The Sun–The Inevitable Cyber Threat