It’s hard to imagine what our lives would be like without electricity and the many systems that rely on the grid, but it’s something that the world must prepare for because it’s just a matter of time before catastrophe strikes.
“Basically, there is a 100 percent probability that our sun, generating what they call a GMD, which is a solar storm, that hits hard, hits our Earth, and the magnetic field we have around the Earth, and can fry everything that is electric above the ground, including our entire grid,” he told Carlson.
Not only can this happen in theory, but it has happened before. The Carrington Event was the strongest geomagnetic storm on record, and it was caused by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun that collided with the magnetosphere of Earth in 1859.
Back then, however, we only had telegraph lines and not the extensive electric grid we have today. The telegraph lines were completely fried and had to be replaced, but life largely went on as usual because people were self-sufficient; everyone was essentially living “off the grid” at that time.
It would be a far different story today, however. Although such a solar storm would not harm humans directly, its effects would be far-reaching and would inevitably lead to mass casualties. Quaid explained what this scenario would mean for humanity, telling Carlson: “There wouldn’t be water in your tap. You couldn’t get gas for your car because the whole system is broken down. Everything we rely upon would be gone.”
Digital commerce, transportation, the finance system, water treatment and wastewater systems, food delivery, phones, internet, and numerous other aspects of modern life would be unavailable.
Quaid said that one study showed 90 percent of the population would be dead within one year of such a catastrophic grid failure. City dwellers would fare especially poorly, while those who live in rural settings may have more resources at their disposal to survive.
Not only would such damage be prohibitively expensive to fix, but there wouldn’t even be a way to do it given our reliance on the grid.
We are not prepared
Quaid emphasized just how unprepared the U.S. is for this type of scenario. He said that President Trump and Obama tried to implement measures to protect the grid but their efforts got held up by regulatory agencies that are controlled by energy company lobbyists. Most power companies are privately owned and are unwilling to spend the vast amounts of money needed for proper protection.
However, this investment would be relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of recovering from such an event. In fact, he said that $100 billion would be enough to install protection relays capable of stopping transformers from being fried, much like a surge protector – and Quaid points out that’s about the same amount of money the U.S. has given to Ukraine so far.
Not only is this type of event likely to happen naturally, but terrorists could also target the grid from the coast of the U.S. in a super EMP attack that would have similar effects to a geothermal event from the sun. We wouldn’t see or hear such an explosion in the vacuum of space, but it would emit gamma rays that encompass the U.S. and take out the grid, leading to a nationwide power outage that lasts months, if not years.
Quaid thinks this should be getting more attention than it is; he noted that Russia and China have done more than the U.S. to protect their infrastructure from this eventuality.
He also wants more people to be aware of this threat and pressure the government to take protective measures before it’s too late. All sectors of the economy, due to their dependence on electricity, should be pushing for this.
Quaid said people erroneously think of this like an asteroid hitting Earth, something that is very remote, “It’s something we don’t like to think about but it’s… whether from the Sun or a bad actor this is something that 100 percent chance it’s going to happen and we are just… no way prepared for it.”
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