*Poof* Lights Out!

Apparently, an ElectroMagnetic Pulse can take down our power grid in one fell swoop, frying electrical lines and transformers and leaving us in the dark.  Who knew? (Said somewhat tongue in cheek.)

This may sound like doomsday talk, but the fact is, this is actually true, and we are continually at risk from solar storms and nuclear attacks that could take down our power grid, even if only temporarily.  There is much debate in the scientific community about what exactly the effect of a major solar storm event might be on our wired (and wireless) world.  A solar burst in 1989 made the Northern Lights visible as far south as Texas, and initiated a blackout in Canada and the northern United States that lasted about 9 hours.

We depend on our power grid; one of the worst things about storms here in the midwest is not the storm itself, but the inevitable power outage that results from it.  No charging of devices, no connections to the outside world via our computers, and no refrigeration or lighting, unless we want to go old school with candles.  But when you think about the power grid going down, it brings more to mind than the immediate inconvenience of perishable food storage and not being able to call your mom.  Gas stations can no longer pump gas (or charge that gas to your credit card) and the banks and ATM’s have no way of giving you cash, either.  Traffic lights are out, schools are closed, and we are likely not able to do our jobs, either.

Doomsday or not, it bears looking at.  There is even a bill pending in Congress (it has already passed the House) to force the electric industry to provide better security and protection for the existing electrical grid.  Scientists can only predict so much.  If a geo-magnetic storm approaches, or a rogue country decides to explode an atomic bomb over our heads, the electrical grid is at risk, and we should be prepared.