I have had the privilege of knowing author Alexa Wolf since Jimmy Carter was President. I’d like to afford that privilege to you, gentle reader.
a guest post by Alexa Wolf
Hurricane Sandy as seen from Space Station
So I’m watching TV coverage of post-Hurricane Sandy a week after the storm and up comes an interview between some famous anchor, I forget who, and the head of Con Ed, although on the East Coast it is not Con Ed. It is Something Else Ed.
Famous Anchor is asking Something Else Ed, “Is there any way to protect the grid from disasters like Sandy?” At the time of this interview, there are still a few million people without power.
Something Else Ed smiles and says, “No, it would be too expensive. You’d have to practically gold plate the grid. People simply could not afford to pay for electricity.”
Famous Anchor smiles back and says, mindless as a zombie, never thinking to ask Something Else Ed HOW MUCH is too much, “So if you can’t gold-plate the grid against disasters, what should people do?”
And Something Else Ed smiles some more and says, “People should prepare to survive without electricity for a couple of weeks.”
“People should prepare,” reiterates Famous Anchor, head bobbing, his undead brows furrowed in, presumably, contemplation.
Something Else Ed nods back, and smiles.
B-2 Spirit — official USAF photo
According to MIT-trained engineer Matthew Stein, it would cost about $1 billion to back up – to “gold- plate” – the grid. That’s it – half the price of B-2 bomber or a few days dying and killing in Afghanistan, for which of course there is always enough money. So it’s not even serious money, let alone gold.
Stein says it would take another billion or so to back up the nuclear power plants.
Oh, yeah. Sigh . Nuclear power. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Sandy did not become a worst-case scenario despite the loss of life and property. A worst-case scenario would be the once-in-a-century solar storm that NASA has predicted will arrive in 2013 on or before May.
The solar storm, producing what is called the Carrington Effect, is expected to be strong enough to emit an EM pulse that will burn up most or all satellites and fry most if not all of the electric grids, leaving us without power for six months to a year, if not forever.
For how will workers restore the grid?
Without satellites there can be no communication via cell phones or the Internet. Without the grids there will be no communication by land lines. If some method of communication is established some other way, how will the workers get where they need to be? There will be no way to travel to the necessary places to set up whatever can be set up to restore the grids because gas pumps run on electricity so there’ll be no way to get gas once whatever one has stored is gone.
Moreover, it requires electricity to make the parts that will restore the grids. If they are not already made and in place, how would you make and replace them?
In 1989 a solar flare hit Canada. Quebec went dark. Afterwards, Canada installed some backup systems.
Recently, the sun loosed four larger, really massive solar flares. Had they been on Earth’s trajectory, our satellites and grids would be gone. Earth is currently moving into that fatal trajectory.
The people must be prepared, says Something Else Ed.
True. If the power companies do not “prepare”, it’s all ours.
But how do we prepare?
We’ve watched the Sandy victims struggling through and after the storm. Their experience will only be our starting place because the power for everyone will be gone and not come back.
Like the power company workers, we too will have no communication, no travel, no way to get to relatives or to leave town or even to reach hospitals.
Or receive help from a hospital if you can get there. We watched everyone being evacuated from the major hospital in New York when their generator didn’t work. But when there is no power, there will be no evacuation.
We’ll have no refrigeration. Fresh food will run out, so will cans. Your cans, any cans. Stores no longer keep them in stock. And neither FEMA nor any private organization will be able to ship in emergency food because of the gas pumps not working.
Food riots have been predicted.
There’ll be no running water – no faucets working, no toilets flushing. No water delivery.
Nights will be black without light. Unable to see, the elderly will fall more frequently, no medical help will be available for them or anyone else, and gangs and other criminals will roam at will in the unmitigated darkness.
Law and order will fail without communication, lights or vehicles. There will be no way to put out fires. There will be no garbage pickup.
A couple of weeks after the interview between Famous Anchor and Something Else Ed, I heard on the radio a discussion between Matthew Stein and Gary Null about how to prepare for the solar superstorm – what to do, what to get. As their discussion proceeded, I realized that three choices lie before us.
First, forget about preparation. Second, prepare as much as you can. Or, third, bang on the doors of Congress and the White House and demand they either use our tax dollars to back up the grids and nuclear power plants and reinforce the satellites or force the power companies to do so.
If you choose to prepare for the solar storm, Null and Stein recommended that you start by taking your living quarters off the grid by installing solar panels.
Null then suggests that you get blackout blinds so that others cannot see the light. Lighting without grid support might suggest to the nefarious stranger, or neighbor, that you possess further survival necessities. This possibility might stimulate the desire, in those who did not store anything, to try to get in and take yours, although I suspect that, if you have placed solar panels on your house, that might be kind of a giveaway.
If you cannot afford solar panels, Null suggests about the only thing I myself can afford of all his suggestions: solar lights for the yard which can be recharged in each day’s sunlight, brought inside at night and used indefinitely as flashlights and house lights.
Null and Stein further suggest you store gallons and gallons of water along with a top of the line water filter so that you can obtain and purify water from your nearby lakes and streams (ha ha for urban areas), and store as much gas as possible for those trips.
For food Gary Null thinks the best option is to buy several cases of all the various super foods that will cover all of your nutritional needs such as powdered fruit, powdered berries, powdered greens, powdered vegetables, powdered grains, powdered seeds and so on. Unopened, these jars will keep the contents fresh for a few years.
Further, stock pounds and pounds of dried beans, grains and so on to go with the diesel stove you will also purchase. Stockpile gallons of diesel for your stove.
Store endless rolls of toilet paper.
Purchase a machine that makes colloidal silver from your purified water, which will take care of your antibiotic and antiviral needs.
Get one of those old wash boards because you’re going to be doing a lot of washing clothes by hand. This thought alone should send you stampeding toward Congress and the White House, demanding the power companies “gold-plate” the grids for a pitiful billion dollars – and put out another billion for the nuclear power plants.
Speaking of which, Null also recommends you buy a radiation suit and boots; Stein agrees.
To me this is where we see the black hole in their entire strategy: nuclear apocalypse.
Nuclear power plants require billions of gallons of coolant water flowing over their cores so that they do not melt into the “China syndrome,” liquefying from the heat and falling through the ground, theoretically, all the way to China. The pools of spent fuel rods also require these millions and billions of gallons of constantly flowing cool water so that they do not overheat and explode with a massive release of radiation.
Unfortunately, the coolant water is controlled by the grids which will no longer be able to turn on the flowing water.
If there is enough warning, some of the nuclear plants may be able to shut down in time to prevent core meltdowns. But without an internal backup system in the nuclear plants themselves, those spent fuel rods will still blow up.
Gary Null says that most people in the United States live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. Once the EM pulse knocks out the grids, Null recommends you get at least 200 miles from the nearest plant. So in advance of the storm, for those who can afford it, you should purchase land at least 200 miles from the nearest nuclear plant, perhaps in cooperation with other people.
You will keep your food there. You also store seeds so you can grow fresh food.
Everyone on the cooperative has some gift and they will contribute that gift to the benefit of the group.
In order to get there, keep a collapsible bike handy for everyone in your family so that you all can leave town fast and speed off to this magical designation. For the highways and roads will be clogged with cars that will have run out of fuel. All of you should have a backpack stuffed to the nines with your water filter, some jars of superfoods and some colloidal silver in case you get stuck on the road for a while.
So there you’ll be, you and your family, pedaling away in your radiation suits with your giant backpacks, weaving between the motionless cars and the people in them and those who have begun walking, all of whom will just let your little group tool along unmolested.
If you must remain where you currently live, do your business and so on, you would keep the cases of superfoods, the water filter, the colloidal silver machine, diesel cooking stove and so on on hand, also storing as much water as you can as well as diesel for the stove.
You must also keep warm blankets and clothes for the winter. But neither Null nor Stein suggested anything for you if you live where the summer temperature soars into the hundreds for two or three months out of the year. I listened intently for how to survive such deadly heat. Where I live the temperature hits 115 degrees a few weeks each summer; one day this past summer it reached 120 degrees. But there was a kind of uncomfortable-sounding pause in their discussion and then they went on to the next thing.
I guess in some cases you could find a watering hole in which to cool off. Near me, there is a privately owned lake. It is walking distance, if you can walk. (I’m on crutches, pain with each glacially slow step, and my electric wheelchair would avail nothing with no electricity), or biking distance, if you can bike.
You could go and jump in that lake. You might pick up bacteria or parasites, but you’ll have your colloidal silver to help you get rid of them. However, your colloidal silver machine will not help much if the wealthy owners in the lovely homes surrounding their beautiful lake shoot you.
Null and Stein continued, offering reams of advice on surviving without power. But if the nuclear power plants are not backed up, it seems to me, all these preparations become worthless.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Gary Null. I listen to his programs all the time. It was from him I learned about the solar storm and have gotten most of my information about it. I’ve emailed other progressive talk show hosts about our imminent demise and no one has answered. None of them have otherwise brought up the solar storm, so far as I know. Only, oddly, Fox News has actually addressed it when they interviewed physicist Michio Kaku about it.
But it seems to me Null and Stein would have spent their time better by stirring people to protest and occupy. Put the solar storm in the national dialogue as the Occupy movement did with the wealth disparity. Alert the people of our country to what faces us, what can still technologically be done, who won’t do it – and how to make them do it.
Chernobyl killed millions around the world with cancer. Fukushima is killing the people of Japan and irradiating the Pacific to the point that you wouldn’t dare eat anything from that ocean anymore. The West Coast of the U.S has been hit with radiation from which cancers will result.
Fukishima second explosion
Although Fukishima continues to spew radiation into the air, ground, local drinking water and the ocean, we are no longer hearing anything about Fukushima in corporate media. Silence even on the fact that various of the six reactors at the plant are having unexplained explosions and fires, three of the reactors have (according to Michio Kaku) melted and Reactor Number Four is on the verge of collapse.
Most scientists believe that if it does collapse, it will cause an explosion that will trigger explosions in the other five reactors. The radiation released by these six explosions will be enough, it is believed, to irradiate and kill almost everything currently alive in the Northern Hemisphere.
(The equator provides a kind of barrier that will prevent most radiation from crossing into the Southern hemisphere.)
Fukishima is just a single nuclear power plant. There are 104 nuclear plants in the United States and about 400 around the world. Most are in the Northern Hemisphere. If even only half melt down or half the spent fuel rods blow up, forget the 200 miles from your local nuke plant. Buy land in Bolivia (which, as urban myth relates, the Bushes have done). If there is enough warning, you might be able to get out of Dodge before the solar EM pulse grounds all planes and terminates air traffic control.
Or perhaps it might be more expedient to demand that Congress force the power companies to back up their grids and nuclear plants rather than go through all that survival strategy and, in the end, be done in by radiation sickness and cancer anyway.
Contemporary nuclear industry “warm & fuzzy” ad
Lazy soul that I am, even if they backed up the nuclear plants but not the grids, I just can’t see how all that tedious and expensive survival preparation is better than forcing the power companies to back up their systems and allow us to remain in the current century. “Life as we know it,” as they say in Star Trek.
Actually, I wouldn’t even survive the power shutdown for two weeks. I have a collapsed femur, I can’t walk without the crutches, I can’t lean over to pump water from a container even if I could afford the water, there is no way I could get to a lake or river even if I could afford the water filter, I couldn’t get myself into a radiation suit without help even if I could afford one, and I bought one jar of Gary Null’s excellent superfood Power Berry Blast and now don’t have enough money for regular food for the rest of the month. And so on.
So you can understand my bias, and bewilderment.
What lunacy drives the media to ignore the approaching solar storm or send zombies to interview the power company heads, or Eds, about backing up their systems to protect against worst-case disasters?
And the power companies – $2 billion is NOTHING! How many hundreds of billions of dollars do they net each year? Do they even pay taxes on their profits? How stupid and greedy do they have to be to resist this meager, measly, puny amount to save us all from annihilation? Will $2 billion bite into their bonuses? I mean, WHAT is this pathological avarice contaminating most of the wealthiest Americans to the point of suicide?
If Stein is wrong and the cost is higher, doncha kinda think it might be worth it?
Life is short. And take my word for it, once you reach sixty-five, it gets shorter every year. Must we make it even shorter than necessary?
NASA and other scientists testified before Congress about the solar storm. Afterwards, the House voted unanimously to do something. But the Senate killed the bill. I can’t find the details online any more but from what I remember of my first search, the Senate wanted the power companies to pay the bill and the power companies wanted the government to pay so no one will pay the bill.
According to the guy who took my call at my congresswoman’s office, and researched after I explained my concerns, some people in the U.S. are now talking with some people in Britain about what to do, and both countries are studying the sun. Yak, yak, yak.
It also seems the Federal government has issued a warning alert to local governments and suggested they get ready. Have you heard anything about this?
Meanwhile, nothing is being built or put in place to protect the grids.
According to my congresswoman’s representative, the power companies plan to deal with a Carrington- size solar flare with rolling blackouts.
So the EM pulse would fry the grids that are still on and, from what I’ve read, even if a grid is off, it would still attract the EM particles and be destroyed.
In fact, the power companies needed to have built three or four backup transformers for all those in use, but it’s too late for that now. It takes about a year to build a transformer and the solar storm will be here by May.
However, according to one website, they can still install a blocking device for the transformers.
They could as well have built giant surge suppressors to back up the grids. Some people think there is still be time for that now, although I’ve also read that these surge suppressors require one to three years to build.
One website says the only thing that will save the grids is to put them in a Faraday Cage (whatever that is); another site says the Faraday Cage won’t work.
There’s at least one website with a list of smaller things that can be done in time; I’d like to know what Canada did after the flare hit Quebec.
Obviously, Mathew Stein believes the grid can still be protected.
I’m just a pedestrian on the Technological Highway. But it’s pretty clear that, if money comes, a concerted effort by a bevy of engineers might be necessary to figure out how to shield the grids and ourselves.
It’s also clear that, if we do have time, that time is short. The solar flare might arrive as early as January.
In myths and fairy tales, the hero or heroine often has just one moment in which to do the necessary thing. The girl escapes the evil god in the upper realms by climbing down a spider web. She must keep her eyes closed until just before she reaches the bottom of the web. Then she must open her eyes and step onto the earth. She cannot open her eyes too early or too late or she will turn into a spider.
She is too late.
We all hold our breath when we see this moment in our own myths. “Now! Now! Now!” cries the young Captain Kirk in the latest Star Trek venture as he and Sulu, their parachutes useless, plummet toward the ground. Inches from the lethal crash, they are beamed back to their ship: “in the nick of time.”
Mythologist Joseph Campbell said this moment symbolizes the moment of life.
Jungian Marie-Louise von Franz says this moment can represent the moment of sanity, in the midst of the madness and chaos of life, in which your vision clears and the right action will or will not be taken and everything will be saved or lost.
This is our moment.
And so I say, Act! Now!
I don’t want to die just yet.
Occupy! I cry out in blithering desperation. Call your local congressperson, your senators, the White House, the networks, your local TV and radio stations!
Alert your friends and neighbors to the peril! Collect those who can grasp the magnitude of the threat and visit your local media – get that storm into the public dialogue! Get the population moving. Meet, the lot of you, with your congressional representatives and demand they force the power companies to backup the power systems – or just pay for it from our taxes!
If we get our house in order, we might even be able to work with other countries, helping to back up the other 300 nuclear power plants out there and the grids that have to be reinforced to protect those plants and the pools of spent fuel rods within them. (Or, more accurately, sitting on top of them or sitting outside of them – another story.)
Would you really leave our survival in the hands of the power companies? Today is December 5, more than a month after Sandy. Thirty thousand people are still without power.
Sandy Aftermath: Breezy Point
Taking collective charge might even start a trend, a momentum of intelligent action that will help us avert the absolute destruction of human life and the majority of species alive today resulting from climate change, following on the heels of the solar storm…
On the other hand, you folks – as the President might put it; the President likes “folks” – you folks out there in Homeland Security, you don’t have to come after me, strip me of my citizenship and take me off somewhere to be tortured or imprisoned.
I know that I am dissing nuclear power and suggesting cutting into the profits of the power company CEOs and that, if I should be successful at all in persuading others to act, according to the Patriot Act, my behavior would designate me a terrorist (even though, I cannot help but point out, protecting the grids from catastrophe is actually a national security issue that you should be fixing).
However, not to fear.
Even among those of my own friends who researched the solar storm after I described it, and who subsequently began to collect food, water and so on, not one of them has picked up a phone and called their congressperson, senators, the White House, or any news outlet, let alone visited.
“Why not?” I ask, as their bags of dried beans pile up and they seek a discreet place to park their new port-a-potty. “Just make one five minute phone call!” Actually, it takes ten or fifteen minutes to convince whoever gets the call that you, with your end-of-the-world scenario, have solid facts and are not a raving nutcase. But my friends can find out for themselves.
But they won’t.
Instead, falling right in line, they answer with a fatalistic shrug. “Why bother? They won’t do anything”; behaving as if they themselves have no power even before the civilization-ending solar flare hits.