Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.

There’s a show on National Geographic called “Doomsday Preppers”. I’ve never watched it. But I have read a number of blogs from people on the subject and I’ve become convinced that most people, even those into “prepping”, haven’t thought through what would be the likely, and even predictable, steps our society would take as it self-destructed.

The doomsday scenarios I have seen discussed revolve around one of the topics below:

  • Economic collapse
  • Nuclear attack
  • Stellar impact (comet/asteroid)
  • EMP attack
  • Solar EMP event (Carrington Event)

I don’t feel qualified to discuss the likelihood of any of those things. I do, however, feel sufficiently qualified to say that there is one general scenario that I think is likely enough that it bears discussing: The collapse of our electrical grid and the consequences of that collapse.

A few years ago, I started doing research for a project on was premised on the fall of our civilization.  What could cause it? Was it plausible? What would it look like?

What I discovered was that our own civilization was far more fragile than I ever imagined. What’s worse, unlike the dramatic scenarios I read about, the most likely series of events would instead of a horrifying, gradual descent in which people didn't even realize that civilization was collapsing even as it was occurring.

In essence, our civilization dies as if it were a frog in water that was slowly brought to a boil.

Why guessing the scenario is irrelevant

There are a lot of different scenarios that could cause the power grid to be taken out.  I remember the blackout of 2003. It affected 55 million people and the power was out for 2 days. This all happened because some power lines in Ohio came in contact with some overgrown trees. Seriously.

55 million people lost power for 2 days because of a cascading failure that boiled down to some power lines getting tangled up with trees.  Hence, the specific trigger for a power grid collapse is less important than knowing the consequences of it.

General parameters

For our purposes, let’s just assume that the power grid has been damaged by something that will take 90 days to repair. Cars still work. Anything that wasn’t connected to the grid still works (like gas generators). Let’s assume this whole thing happens in August -- that tends to be when the electrical grid is under the most stress anyway.

Week 1: No big deal

The first few days are a party. The food in the refrigerator is going to go bad anyway so there’s a lot of BBQ’s. People talk about how this event is helping restore a sense of community. It’s like an extended camping trip in some ways. If only they knew.

The only friction that comes up at this point is that everything has to be bought in cash. People running to the store to buy their own generators (which sell out on the first day) are having to buy them in cash because credit card processing is down. Inconvenient.

By the end of the first week, the stores have sold out of their inventory of food along with other items one would expect to need “just in case”. Every army surplus store gets cleared out. No looting. Cash and carry.

Week 2: Some people have run out of water

It’s in week 2 that things start to become widely unpleasant.  Personally, I think a lot of people would start to be seriously concerned after day 2 but for the sake of argument, let’s assume most people tough out that first week.

Every real television station is still broadcasting. They have backup generators that are hooked up via natural gas and the natural gas pipelines are working just fine, for now. The gas stations are still working too. They have backup generators that run off gasoline. So people who need gasoline or diesel for their generators are doing fine as long as people have cash to pay for it. That also means cars can still get gas.

So the good news is that people are still being informed on the status of the blackout. The bad news is that they don’t know how long it’s going to take to restore power because it turns out that most of the transformers on the grid were damaged.

If you live in a major city, things aren’t so good. There’s no running water for most people.  If you live in the suburbs, there’s no running water either but those with houses can tap into their hot water heaters or have some local pond or something that, if they’re smart, they’ll boil first.

The federal, state, and local governments are bringing in water but it’s slow going, chaotic, and tense. The government is setting up relief centers in urban areas to supply food and water. The problem, however, is that there are a finite number of generators and, for the time being, no new ones are being made. The ability to fix anything that breaks down is compromised.

In summary, the urban areas are a bit scary because no power means reduced security and no independence but at least there are relief areas to walk to.  Suburbs don’t have the relief centers but still, generally have access to water and “community” food stocks are still holding up. People can drive their cars to the relief centers to pick up dry food goods and water bottles.

The death toll is far less than it could be. People who need assisted living or are vulnerable to heat related stress are the worst off. It’s easy to forget that large swaths of the United States are only comfortable thanks to air conditioning.

Week 3: Fraying

If you live out in the country, none of this is that big of a deal yet. You have generators. You have water sources. Some people, mostly suburbanites that decided to move into the country, have run out of food but they’re probably being supported by their neighbors. At least, I like to think so.

The suburbs, however, are fraying. Most people are out of food and are now flooding into the cities to those relief centers. While water is not a problem there, food is.  That’s because our distribution system in 2012 is based on just in time delivery. It’s very power hungry and the lack of a power grid is creating a lot of holes that are not easily patched.

Put yourself in this itself in the situation for moment.  It’s been 15 days without electricity. You have no more cash on hand. You’re out of food. You have some gallon containers of boiled water. Your car still has gas but you no longer have a way to get any more. You’re only 5 miles from the nearest relief center but you hear from neighbors that they’re now handing out MREs instead of “normal” food.

What do you do? Well, a lot of people have just moved their families to camping out near one of these relief camps. Should you do that?

Week 4: The Unraveling begins

So 22 days into the black out the scale of the problem is well known. Thank goodness communication still works. In the various EMP scenarios, there’s no communication.

On the other hand, communication still works.

A lot of the electrical transformers are out. This in turn damaged a lot of the grid infrastructure. It’s all repairable except that some of the parts can’t easily be replaced and that the supply of spare parts is very finite. As a result, certain parts of the grid have been restored.


image

The US power grid

Since communications still works, assume that the government has directed that the limited spare parts be used to restore the power grid in the most populated areas. This means the major urban areas, the east coast and the west coast.

This creates some sub-scenarios.  Do people migrate to those zones? Do those zones act as logistical bases to send out supplies?

I think we can surmise a few things here:

First, a lot of the equipment, having been running 24/7 for the past month, is going to start to break down. Those relief centers are going to start running out of food to supply. Water deliveries will start to become a problem as the number of vehicles available start to dwindle. Absenteeism is going to start to become a serious problem throughout this logistical network. To make a long story short, the patch work of relief centers is going to start to break down. This also means the delivery of fuel to gas stations and other consumables that rely on our vast, electrically powered, logistical infrastructure will start to come to a halt.

Second, a lot of people are going to start dying. The ability to supply medication in a timely manner is gone. If 15,000 people in France can die from a heat wave, one can imagine what would be happening in the American south in late August with no air conditioning.

Third, security will have started to seriously break down. Those that recall the problems in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina can probably imagine what will be happening in those vast camp grounds surrounding every relief center – especially as supplies begin to dwindle.

And we’re only 22 days into this…

And mind you, we’re only 22 days in.  If an event occurred that physically damaged the power grid, particularly some of the very expensive, hard to replace, hard to manufacture elements of it, we’d be looking at large swaths of the population being without power for months.

There are a lot of variables that come into play and the further we go out, the more speculative we have to become. Here are some of the questions that would have a lot to do with the outcome:

  1. Is this a worldwide issue? Just North America? Just the Eastern and Western Interconnect?
  2. How effective would the local/state/federal government be in delivering vital supplies to population centers and how long could it maintain those supplies?
  3. If transportation is still available, what would be the migration patterns? What percent would stay put versus move to where power is versus would camp out at a relief center?
  4. How quickly would violence arise on a scale to disrupt or event overwhelm local authority?
  5. How long would secondary elements of our infrastructure function without the grid (utility companies that rely on regular deliveries of supplies and components to function, communication grids that rely on power)
  6. What is the MTBF of various types of backup generators?
  7. To what level would people be able to obtain more cash and/or use credit cards if the grid went down?

 

Week 5: It Falls apart

Depending on the answers from above, it’s about week 5 that things start to go to hell. 

For our purposes we’re going to assume the following going forward:

  • It’s a worldwide issue
  • The government aid goes as well as it possibly can (i.e. benefit of the doubt)
  • Non-Cash payment is a significant issue where the grid remains down (not that it’ll matter much longer)
  • Best-case scenario regarding the rise of mobs, looting, and gangs (i.e. benefit of the doubt).

 

The second month

  • Think you can hold off the hordes of starving because you have guns and a fortified house?
  • Should you migrate to where they’ve restored the grid or should you stay put or should you “go to that cottage your grandma has”?
  • How serious and how fast will things get violent?

Join the discussion

I’d love to hear from you in the comments area.  Corrections to my data. Supplemental information. Things I haven’t thought of. Link others to this article to get others who are knowledgeable on this topic to have access to it.

 

//


Comments (Page 3)
on May 30, 2012

 

Good old Hudson sums it all up quite well ....

on May 30, 2012

Brad,

You ask "To what level would people be able to obtain more cash and/or use credit cards if the grid went down?"

In return I ask, "Would people accept cash after 2-3 weeks?"

My logic is, when you start seeing food/water and other critical supplies dwindling, why use to you are small circles of metal and little squares of colored paper?

 

Anyway, I, personally would not go camp beside a relief centre. In my mind, that gets you in close quarters with sick people and people willing to potentially harm you for your share of the water. Screw that. Nevertheless, that situation would need to be evaluated regularly for ideal reactions.

on May 30, 2012

DaveBax
There is a major problem with this even though it could be the answer for one or a family to continue for a long time if done correctly.

The major population is contained in Cities and towns. In more rural areas where severe storms are common some people already have shelters and supplies. These same people also have quite a bit of land to make such shelters. For the largest total population areas at least in the United States look around. Do you have the land to fabricate a suitable shelter? The answer to this is no.

Another problem this world faces is the economic situation. How many actually have the means to make or purchase storage containers and then put the correct supplies in them if they had the land.

There is very little doubt that having a supplied bunker could keep one going for a while in hopes the cause of the problem that started the situation could be solved. Again this is a “what if situation” So how many people are really going to act on a “what if” There have been “what if” situations for over a 100 years. Now if we were all the President of the US we would be covered for such an event or any event. So the most likely way to save you would be to figure out how to become President or a very high ranking official. Now you could live in your air conditioned bunker and have steak for dinner.

Yes, it is a problem for most that don't have the means to carry something like this out...those people will have a hard road ahead...but it can still be done if your determined enough and your family will cooperate. This will be a real test of how strong your family is. And going to a "relief" would be a major mistake even as well intentioned they might be...you need to be as far away from them as possible since they will be one place hostilities will break out after supplies disappear quickly.

Getting your family to such a spot will be problematic too.

A single person on a motorbike can go anywhere they need to pretty quickly (and worry less about gas). Moving a family any distance when things go to hell is problematic.

I agree Z. This is why you would need to carry out family drills on the routes you would have to use in order to get to your bunker...no one said it would be easy...but it can be done. Planing planing planing. Timing is on your side when this happens as long as you move fast as soon this scenario happens. And all of this will test your family...if they can't get over petty differences it won't work.

on May 30, 2012

I think a lot of this depends on where you live and how people prepare for different scenarios.  I live in Houston and when hurricane Ike came, my neighborhood was without power for 16 days.  Granted the power was back up in the Medical center district within 3 or 4 days but if you didn't live near the Med Center or some of the commercial centers you were without power for at least a week.  We actually couldn't get out of out neighborhood without walking for a couple of days because of trees across the road.  Some neighbors got together and cut up the trees because if we would have waited for the city, it would have been a long wait.

Can't say anyone got out of hand and, while not plesant temperature wise, everyone got together in the neighborhood and took turns cooking for one another.  Most people have gas stoves, water heaters and even gas  central heating in our neighborhood since the houses are all older.  Of course, after about a week power was beginning to come back on and we could drive to other neighborhoods to get food.  Perishable food was scarce, but anything in a box or vaccuum sealed was just fine.  It actually wasn't as terrible as I though it was going to be... other than not being able to sleep in the heat an humidity of the night.

However, in Hoston, people are gneerally prepared for this kind of thing.  And, like it or not, the truth is it's generally not populated by scum like New Orleans.  Now I think that beacuse people know there is danger of big storms and they know power will be out for potentially long periods of time people are more prepared for the realities.  Some people had generators in out neighborhood but most did not.  they're not essential, espicially with gas running so many things.  Now, other cities, those which don't have gas as a pervasive part of their utlilties  or which don't have to deal with situations like this, them might deal with a long power outage so well. 

I don't think that everywhere will descend into chaos and also, if the grid can be repaired, it will be.  I seriously doubt that there is any scenario which would cause irreparable damage to the grid over such a wide area as to affect the entire country for months.  Yes, if something did happen, certain cities would get power first, DC, New York, to get government and financial centers up and running.  It's unrealistic to think that there aren't spare parts or even loads of entire replacement transformers hanging out in werehouses.  Yes, there certainly aren't enough to replace everything in the country at once, but certainly enough to replace what needs replacing within a couple weeks in New York and DC.  engineers and crews from all over the country would converge on all important centers to get things working in essential areas first.  Sure, if you live somewhere in the middle of Montana, you're probably not going to see lights for a while, but if you live in a major metropolitan area which is a center for government or financial infrasctucture for the country, you'd see power within a couple days.

on May 30, 2012

There are so called doomsday events that could be prepaired for as mentioned. Other events such as a Nuclear attack not so nuce as I doubt we would get much warning. Therefore we wouldn't even have a chance to get to the protected area that was made.

As I said I really gave any of this stuff much thought and just figured what happened was what was going to happen. Given my present situation and age I decided after reading all this it doesen't matter for me. I may just throw myself in the middle of it to get it over. I sure wouldn't want to have to try and start over again.

As I said in my first post I do now and again think about an Economic collapse. If that happens one would really need the same safeguards that are mentioned on this thread. It would end up leaving me in the same place. I understand this is just a topic for discussion but I'm just going to continue to live for the next minute and next day as one never knows if they will actually ever get to the next minute till it comes.

on May 30, 2012

The consequences of a long-term loss of our power grid are of sufficient gravity that Congress commissioned a study of it a few years back:

http://www.empcommission.org/

I spent some time working for a lab that was doing research into this phenomenon. One of the features of our energy infrastructure that most people don't realize is that it's multiply-interdependent with several other resources. For example, we need petroleum to ferry fuel from our collection and refinement plants to the power generators. Likewise, our petroleum infrastructure uses a tremendous amount electricity. Knocking out the electrical grid would quickly see us running out of gasoline because we wouldn't have the means to refine it. To boot, the manufacturing plants that build the humongous transformers we would need to replace in the event of a solar/nuclear EMP -- and of which the worldwide production is less than a dozen per year -- all require electricity and petroleum in large quantities to operate, as do the steel plants that produce the stock that the transformers are built with. 

The result of all this is that restoration of the power grid country-wide could take years. During these years, from where would we acquire our food? Mass agriculture depends on an enormous influx of petroleum products (fertilizer/fuel/chemicals) that we wouldn't be capable of producing. We would have a third of a billion hungry people with guns and no way to charge their iPads. I don't think it would be a pretty picture.

It isn't my intention to be an alarmist, but those who poo-poo the severity of a large-scale, long-term electricity outage don't seem to have a handle on the whole picture.

on May 30, 2012

Those that recall the problems in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina can probably imagine what will be happening in those vast camp grounds surrounding every relief center – especially as supplies begin to dwindle.

There's a lot of hype and urban legend involved with regard to what happened in the Superdome.  
"When the Superdome was finally cleared, six bodies were found--not the 200 speculated. Four people had died of natural causes; one was ruled a suicide, and another a drug overdose."


Read more: Debunking the Myths of Hurricane Katrina: Special Report - Popular Mechanics 

 

I fully believe most rural folks would be fine after a period of adjustment (long as the ammo holds out cause we believe in the 2nd amendment).

Actually, that's where your conflict is most likely to kick in because everyone "believes in the 2nd amendment".  Your shootings, roving gangs, food riots, rapings and whatnot will happen in short order as well once a few households food supplies run low enough.  And if not your town, then the next one over will start eyeballing your stuff.  Hungry people who are heavily armed do not a peaceful population make.

Urban & suburbanites would likely feed off of each other for a while and few would survive to the 90 day mark.

It's 90 days, man.  The first 2 weeks folks are eating through their pantries.  For the next few they are on relief food.  Meanwhile, folks are dissipating to outlying areas, relief camps, etc.  Plenty of societies have taken natural disasters and not turned into bloodlusting roving cannibals before.  

Might be paradise when the lights come back on......

If you call basically transforming into a 3rd world agrarian economy a paradise, sure.  It's the big cities and urban areas that drives this nation's economy and wealth and lets us afford all our shiny military toys.  It's our ports that facilitate trade with other nations and heavy industry that keeps those shipping containers full.  Your "paradise" - that seems to require a lot of dead fellow Americans - might last for a while but eventually another power would benevolently come in "to assist the United States in their desperate time of need".  It may help ease transition tensions if you start learning Mandarin now.

 

 

on May 30, 2012

Working in the Electrical Supply industry as I do, I know that nowdays the risk of such an event has lessened in the last decade or so.

Protection relays are made to disconnect supplies if the voltage and or current rises above or below set limits. These limits are usually worked out by the "Protection Engineers" and takes into account things like cable size, voltage, available supply and fault currents, transmission type as well as ambient conditions.

For the scenario listed above, every protection relay would have to fail at once, which is a very big ask. Most substations have the protection relays running on an independant DC supply via battery banks. Modern electronic relays also have a "Watchdog" function which should trip the breaker if the relay fails for any reason.

Even the older mechanical based relays have this function and again are usually run from a DC power supply via batteries.

As for transformers, most are oil cooled and very hard to damage from a quick surge in voltage or current. A lightning strike may be enough to cause damage to a particular transformer, but this wouldn't affect more than the one that was hit.

As for the trees that brought about a 2 day failure for 55,000,000 people in 2003. The problem there was a CASCADE failure. This means that the network was not set up properly. One fault caused a problem and should have tripped certain breakers. However, this fault obviously hit sub stations with either faulty relays or incorrect settings. These faults should have been pickind up in routine maintenance but according to reports, the maintenance scheme was poorly implemented (if performed at all). This sounds like maintence was done on a Fault Located Report rather than a Preventative Scheme.

In an ideal network, the area with the actual fault would be isolated by breakers tripping as current draw started to increase.

Regards

on May 30, 2012

Thank god, people are at least thinking about this and what the hell to do.

 

We, my family, are probably pretty well screwed.  We live in the country, but not far off is a semi-major city.  Maybe 20 miles.  We live in a subdivision.  Water's not a problem.  It's food.  We are shopping week to week and entirely dependent on Food Lion being open and accepting the bank card.  We might go to my dad's, 30 minutes further into the boonies in farm country.  There's woods and a fireplace, a hand-pumped well(it runs off the electric pump, too, but in a pinch...)  The issue of stockpiling food will be the issue.  I want to prep a little, like a few months "food" if you call wheat, rice, beans, and seeds "food".  the first winter would be harsh.  Our loved pets might become several dinners, to be honest.  (6 cats and a 200 lb. st.bernard that's all bark)

 

Sounds bad, I know, but there would be 9 of us in that little house(2000 square feet including the basement), and I can lose weight, the kids, 3 to 16 can't.  I'd offer to trade labor to local farmers for food in any way I could, but there's limits to that.  They have to eat, too.

 

As far as the "which event" discussion goes, here's the issue:  once the government has run out of steam, who's going to go to work to keep the power on, even if we're talking nuclear subs at pier side?

If they have to repair everything, as the OP said, then we're thinking something to cause an EMP type event.  There was an old cold war plan by the russians to use a nuclear explosion to create an emp over the middle portion of the US to knock out electricity and communications as a prelude to nuclear war.  The idea is that if it's capable of carrying electricity, the EMP induces a voltage in the wires.

 

Think about that for a second.  It doesn't matter that the computer is off, or that your phone was in your pocket.  Everything electronic just blew it's capacitors.  It's not just transformers that go on the grid, either, but the computers that control it, the machines with chips to make the right crap to make a transformer is gone.  90 days?  pfeh.  Maybe if the federal government picks one state on each coast and one in the grain belt and focuses everything on getting those three sites up and running.  Do you think your house is on their list of places with "urgent need" for electricity?

 

A further complication, whether this is nuclear, solar, or otherwise, what if the political leadership is taken out in the process?  Now you have Joe Bumbleduck claiming power, as well as the new (necessary) local communities who try to band together and arm themselves, as well as the jerks with guns and no morals, as well as any lower level government forces, police, etc trying to get together somewhere.

 

We lose the grid for more than a month, especially mid august, you're talking about frontier life in the 1800's fast, probably with a healthy dose of small-scale warfare, depending on the reasoning capacity of the biggest jackanapes in charge.

 

I'd love to think we'd all file in nice and orderly to the city and someone would hand us MRE's over the course of a year and take "volunteers" to try to fix the grid and make transformers by hand.  I just don't have enough faith in my fellow American, whoever he may be.

 

on May 30, 2012

At least with the specific scenario painted in the OP, I see a few flaws in the reasoning on how it would turn out:

1) Even if transformers are damaged, power plants are still capable of putting out energy.  You might need transit to get gas/ coal to the power plant, but the OP allows for that.  I'd see more of an "oasis" scenario, where areas around power plants would have electric power to some extent, and would likely be able to cobble together some system to get power to local critical facilities like water services within several weeks.  The voltage coming directly from a plant before transformers prepare it for long distance transmission doesn't need nearly so many stages to get it to a level where it'll run a blender.

2) The scenario seems to focus more on large scale response for recovery.  If its been a week without power, and there's a city wide program to round people up to disassemble broken transformers and do a parking lot assembly line to start building/ welding/ putting things up/ running wiring/ whatever . . .I'd join up.  It might not be possible to get the sort of high tech national scale system up and running again, but I'd bet you could cobble together enough to get those "oasis" of power to bootstrap back up.

3) Again under the OP scenario, I'd think food would continue to be available for a longer period of time.  Processing food would seem to be the bottleneck, since farms would still be running and creating food, and transit would be able to deliver it, so its more the matter of getting it to a form that people could eat it/ avoid spoilage.

I'd think the key factor would be if there was enough emergency power generation capacity to keep oil /coal/ gas getting to the transit system and keeping critical systems like desalinization and water pumping working.  At that point, I'm sure a lot of people would still die (and I agree it would likely be caused more by man than the environment) but you'd still bootstrap out fairly quickly.

To be honest, I tend to worry more about "preppers" in these scenarios than the idea of roaming gangs.  I remember watching some show about people building emergency systems for their family, and the father was teaching his kids that unprepared individuals were "zombies" and would take their food unless they were shot (he was having a bunker built with flamethrowers in the handrails down the steps to the door so he could more easily kill his neighbors . . .erm "zombies"). 

While I realize that's on the extreme end of the prepper mentality, I think the "me first" bunker mentality of sit around doing nothing with a shotgun over my horde of food/ pile of stuff in my house would be the most civilization defeating thing in these scenarios.  Hunting / gathering for just yourself is a step up.  But the hope would be enough individuals willing to go out and volunteer for menial work constructing whatever the broken link was, or doing large scale agriculture to get things back running.  I have just enough faith in humanity to think we'd even be able to do it if we had to.

on May 30, 2012

well i live in California, you all remember the whole Enron scandal, well they handled our power.  therefore i have been in a community without power for more than a week.  30% of the businesses had generators available to help out, currently that number is even higher, along with all hospitals, and other facilities.  unless natural gas is taken out at the same time, we will still have running water, heck most street lights will still work.  generally speaking anything handled by a large business, that still has competition, will handle the situation with little hiccups.  the government on the other hand will be slow to act and will probably end up tripping over itself in any way that they aren't all ready prepared.  i am not saying every place is like this, but pretty much anyplace that isn't used to getting fucked by their power company will the only places that have to worry about a prolonged power outage.  the places that have been fucked in the past by their power companies only have to worry about the anarchy from places that aren't used to prolonged power outages.

on May 31, 2012




Quoting DaveChase,
reply 18
First, Power Grid. You need to define it, in particular what actually goes out that requires 90 days to repair. And why anything not connected to the gird still works.


Looting and vandalism were widespread, hitting 31 neighborhoods, including most poor neighborhoods in the city. Possibly the hardest hit were Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores looted, 45 of them set ablaze. Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from a Bronx car dealership.[1] In Brooklyn, youths were seen backing up cars to targeted stores, tying ropes around the stores' grates, and using their cars to pull the grates away before looting the store.[1] While 550 police officers were injured in the mayhem, 4,500 looters were arrested.[1]

That was JUST ONE DAY in '77

Look 'em up ....there's several instances of some twee little mishap turning to grid failure followed by 'dramas'.

 

Never said it would be easy and though I have not lived through what you describe, I am aware of what people do in emergencies, preceived or real. Location makes a huge difference.

I ask for a description of how the effect could take place and as another poster mentioned, it would take a serious event, nature or planned, for all the grids to go down.

If the event was localized (part of a State, that was completely cut off) or if the event was area wide (Centered on a State and its neighboring States) or if it was the entire United States, or even if it was worldwide, makes a huge difference in what would take place over time.

As for location (and Culture?) look at some of the differences seen during Katrina and the area wide flooding in the Dakatos'. Robbing, looting, etc versus people showing up to help sandbag, feed the masses and rescue people, even those that they did not know.

Look at Joplin, MO and Greensburg, KS vesus some of the Coastal States when major nature, destructive events happen.

Look at how people reacted 20, 50 or 100 years ago to such events compared to how they react now. (Mount St Helen's comes to mind versus the same area when heavy rain falls cause houses to start slipping off mountain sides.)

 

 

on Jun 01, 2012

Well, people, I think you may find out - and if not you, your children definitely will. Conventional oil peaked in 2005, the new substitutes have drastically lower EROEI, and are ecologically damaging, other resources are running out fast too, soon, just maintaining what we have will become prohibitively costly, and after that, it's off to a steady, but terminal decline. Oil production in North sea falls 17 percent a year. The Malthusian trap has already sprung.

on Jun 01, 2012

funny. baen has a ton of novels along these lines.. in one form or another. (flint, stirling, kratman, etc)

on Jun 01, 2012

DaveChase

Quoting Jafo, reply 19


Quoting DaveChase,
reply 18
First, Power Grid. You need to define it, in particular what actually goes out that requires 90 days to repair. And why anything not connected to the gird still works.


Looting and vandalism were widespread, hitting 31 neighborhoods, including most poor neighborhoods in the city. Possibly the hardest hit were Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores looted, 45 of them set ablaze. Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from a Bronx car dealership.[1] In Brooklyn, youths were seen backing up cars to targeted stores, tying ropes around the stores' grates, and using their cars to pull the grates away before looting the store.[1] While 550 police officers were injured in the mayhem, 4,500 looters were arrested.[1]

That was JUST ONE DAY in '77

Look 'em up ....there's several instances of some twee little mishap turning to grid failure followed by 'dramas'.


 

Never said it would be easy and though I have not lived through what you describe, I am aware of what people do in emergencies, preceived or real. Location makes a huge difference.

I ask for a description of how the effect could take place and as another poster mentioned, it would take a serious event, nature or planned, for all the grids to go down.

If the event was localized (part of a State, that was completely cut off) or if the event was area wide (Centered on a State and its neighboring States) or if it was the entire United States, or even if it was worldwide, makes a huge difference in what would take place over time.

As for location (and Culture?) look at some of the differences seen during Katrina and the area wide flooding in the Dakatos'. Robbing, looting, etc versus people showing up to help sandbag, feed the masses and rescue people, even those that they did not know.

Look at Joplin, MO and Greensburg, KS vesus some of the Coastal States when major nature, destructive events happen.

Look at how people reacted 20, 50 or 100 years ago to such events compared to how they react now. (Mount St Helen's comes to mind versus the same area when heavy rain falls cause houses to start slipping off mountain sides.)

 

 

 

and let's not forget that katrina wasn't a city wide event, it affected more places than just new orleans.  all of the looting and lawlessness took place in a fairly isolated area, and even then the news blew it out of proportion.  oakland in the 90's had riots on a fairly regular basis, and 'the oakland riots' were far worse than the katrina lootings.  in the end the whole expectation that society will fall apart, while somewhat true, is hardly as big of a deal as everyone makes it out to be.