“Billions of government dollars are being spent to subsidize so-called renewable power, mainly wind and solar . . . intrinsically intermittent, as clouds pass in front of the Sun, and the wind comes and goes. In small doses the grid can handle intermittent power, but to accommodate a lot of this power, a new approach is being promoted: the so-called smart grid . . . centralizing control [and increasing] the vulnerability of the grid to terrorist hacking.” Norman Rogers, The American Thinker, November 21, 2015
Norman Rogers, in his excellent American Thinker article, describes aspects of an irony where the alleged “global warming” or “climate change” threat actually exacerbates another threat — one that I believe is far more consequential even though it is receiving scant attention.
Rogers’ analysis should inform world leaders meeting at the United Nations’ November 30-December 11 “Climate Change Conference” in Paris, seeking an international agreement to limit dramatically further the emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2), allegedly the cause of global warming. But it probably won’t dent their predetermined biases that have little scientific basis, notwithstanding claims that the scientific community agrees with them.
Actually, “climate change” is a euphemism for “global warming,” because there is little evidence of “global warming” and ample evidence that the climate has changed, and continues to change, all the time. It’s been a lot warmer and a lot colder, since long before man entered the scene. But to the true believers — whether it is warmer or colder, it is caused by manmade excesses.
Go Figure. You’d think the Sun, orbital mechanics, geomagnetic forces, etc. might have something to do with the variations that have occurred over hundreds of millions of years? Hmmmm.
Whatever . . . President Obama and his administration spokesmen have repeatedly claimed that climate change is mankind’s “greatest threat,” most recently in the wake of the Paris attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that left more dead and injured in the “City of Lights” than any event since World War II. Click here for a partial listing of such claims since the beginning of President Obama’s first term. Before leaving for Paris, the President claimed that this Climate Change conference would be a “powerful rebuke” to the crazed terrorists, a delusional claim roundly mocked by many, including ISIS. Click here for more on his astonishing claim and pertinent videos.
Whatever . . . Al Jazeera reports that President Obama, true to his prior agenda, claimed in Paris that the climate control conference symbolized a global “act of defiance,” proving that the world stands undeterred by attacks linked to ISIS in Europe and beyond. Wow!!! He’s consistent, if nothing else.
The absurdity of the additional hundreds of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that will be spent if the “climate change” true believers have their way in Paris (and beyond) pales in importance as compared to the increased fragility of the electric power grid being created by already existing trends in Federally imposed programs and taxpayer subsidized development of “renewable energy” sources.
Some of these threats were shared in my November 3, 2015 message, which focused on the convincing discussions by Ted Koppel in his recent book, Lights Out, and in numerous interviews during his book tour. He describes technical fragilities and political encumbrances in straightforward nontechnical language, easily understood by the layman. He is gifted in making this presentation which reflects his longtime career as a highly respected newsman and anchor of ABC’s Nightline.
Upon further study and more careful reading, I have a few more quibbles with his presentation about a very real problem — actually an existential threat to all we hold dear, as he persuasively pointed out. But some issues should be addressed further.
While Koppel discussed the gamut of threats to the electric grid upon which our survival depends, he focused on cyberattack as the main threat of concern. As noted in my November 3rd message, cyberattacks are indeed a major concern. But, in my opinion, other all too real threats to the grid also need emphasis — perhaps even given greater emphasis. While Koppel’s book mentions them, his overwhelming focus was on the cyberattack threat.
Perhaps Koppel’s approach is wise because almost everyone is now familiar with the potential threat of hackers — individually or in groups — and even from nation states that can exploit the “world-wide-web” to create havoc in our personal lives and in the private and government sectors. Such possibilities have been the subject of movies and TV shows, like recent episodes of CBS’s Madam Secretary in which the script involved cyberattacks that threatened Air Force 1 with the President on-board and took down Russia’s electric power grid.
So there is a certain public acceptance of the basic idea that this cyber threat is real — and indeed it is! And if we are smart in dealing with the cyber threat, then perhaps we will also counter the other all too real threats to the grid — e.g., possible physical attacks or electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats.
Mr. Koppel briefly acknowledged the physical attack almost two years ago on the Metcalf substation near San Francisco that came close to shutting down the grid supporting Silicon Valley. I believe he accepts the reality of this threat, but may doubt Jon Wellinghoff (former Chairman of the FERC — Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) and his report that FERC studies had shown that such physical attacks on only nine key substations around the nation could take down the entire U.S. grid for 18-months, as published in The Wall Street Journal, e.g., here, here and here.
Continuing to ignore this all too real physical mode of attack is a serious mistake. The well prepared Metcalf Substation attack operatives required only wire cutters and AK-47s — and are still unidentified and at large. Some believe that attack was actually a “dry run” to evaluate the vulnerability of such key substations. If so, the terrorists learned we were unprepared. We should have learned that the electric power industry should improve the security of such critical substations, and State and Local Law Enforcement authorities should train to counter this threat — and to deal with the consequences should they fail.
Then there is the possibility of an EMP attack, which could be carried out by “rogue” nation states — e.g., Iran or North Korea — armed with nuclear weapons and the means to detonate them high over the United States. Both Iran and North Korea have placed satellites in orbits that pass regularly over the United States at the right altitude to create an EMP over the entire continent if an onboard nuclear weapon is detonated over the central states.
These satellites approach the United States from the south — and we have minimal if any defense against them. North Korea has nukes, and Iran will have them soon, if it doesn’t already. We continue to ignore this threat at our peril.
Notably, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is out to lunch. They do not even include the EMP threat among the scenarios that all the elements of government must train to counter. If passed and signed by the President, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (CIPA) directs DHS to correct this serious shortcoming.
Mr. Koppel indicated in his book and in his media interviews that he was aware of these threats, but he chose not to focus on them, presumably because his interviews with various authorities and leaders led him to believe that cyberattacks would be more plausible.
These experts, and presumably Mr. Koppel, apparently believe that such rogue states would be deterred from attacking us because they would fear our retaliation — the same mutual assured destruction (MAD) doctrine that allegedly kept us safe throughout the Cold War. Maybe this assumption makes sense for North Korea’s Great Leader, but I doubt it does for Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Khamenei, who seems dedicated to hastening the return of the Mahdi and may be willing to accept the consequences of retaliation if he is confident he can kill most Americans in the trade.
And both of them can exploit surrogate terrorists to carry out such an attack, using the strategy identified by the EMP Commissioners a decade ago —i.e., by launching a nuclear weapon on a missile fired from a vessel off our coasts and detonating it in outer space over the center of the country to create the same EMP effect. Certainly ISIS operatives have repeatedly demonstrated their suicide bomber skills and could be counted on to accomplish this task if provided the necessary access and training to accomplish such an attack, against which we are essentially defenseless, especially against launches from the Gulf of Mexico.
Finally, there is the matter of natural EMP, produced by a major solar storm that will one day happen — only the timing is uncertain. Dealing with cyberattack does nothing to counter this threat, which is expected to occur every 150 or so years — the last one occurred in 1859 when we were an agrarian society without electricity. Do the math . . .
Thinking about the existential EMP threat from the Sun brings me back to thinking about climate change — which the President claims is our greatest threat.
I believe existing and proposed counters to the so-called climate change threat are in fact increasing the vulnerability of the electric power grid to the threats mentioned above. This case is well articulated by Norman Rogers in his excellent November 21, 2015 American Thinker article, “Ted Koppel and the Electric Grid.” Consider his opening observation, abbreviated above:
“It is puzzling that Koppel could write a book about the electric grid and say nothing about the extensive reengineering of the grid now under way to accommodate the fantasies of the advocates of global warming. Billions of government dollars are being spent to subsidize so-called renewable power, mainly wind and solar. These sources of power are intrinsically intermittent, as clouds pass in front of the sun, and the wind comes and goes. In small doses the grid can handle intermittent power, but to accommodate a lot of this power, a new approach is being promoted: the so-called smart grid. The smart grid, by centralizing control, increases the vulnerability of the grid to terrorist hacking.”
In fact, the increased vulnerability to cyberattacks is only one of the many unhelpful consequences of the mad rush to reduce the vulnerabilities to “climate change” that might — repeat, might — lead do a fraction of a degree of global warming over the next century provided a volcanic eruption doesn’t create a major spell of global cooling. (The August 26-27 1883 Krakatau eruption lowered global temperatures by over a degree Centigrade over the next year — temperatures did not return to normal until 1888.)
As Rogers also importantly observes, the electric grid was functional prior to the invention of the internet — and worked without the kind of centralized controls envisioned by the so-called “smart grid” — now threatened by focused attacks by means of cyber, physical and mobile EMP devices. Presumed progress on one front is leaving us vulnerable on another.
In earlier days, e.g., in the 1950s and 60s, the primary sources of electricity were hydroelectric and coal power plants — and they remain among the most resilient of plants producing the nation’s electricity. While we continue to rely on hydroelectric power — which does not threaten the “climate change” agenda, coal power plants are on the “endangered species” list because they release Carbon into the atmosphere. Notwithstanding coal plant improvements that reduce Carbon emissions, the political cards seem stacked against them.
Coal power plants also are threatened economically by power plants fueled by less expensive and more environmentally acceptable natural gas. These natural gas plants generally involve supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems that control key equipment — and in their current unhardened configuration are more vulnerable to EMP than the control systems of coal power plants. So again, current modernization efforts help solve one problem and exacerbate another more threatening one.
In any case, the climate change agenda is at odds with efforts to assure that the electric grid can survive and operate through deliberate attacks that actually pose an existential threat, unless we prepare to deal with the consequences of such attacks.
As Rogers points out — as did Koppel in his book — individuals who assure they and their families have water, food and other key essential are critically important to the survival of the way of life they, and we, have come to assume is our heritage. Local and state authorities also have a key role to play — and I believe the National Guard should be actively training to be part of the solution of this important problem in their states and nationally.
We could lose our heritage in a flash, unless we wake up to the threats to the grid and deal with them.
It sure would be nice if President Obama and his administration would pay some attention to this threat, which I would suggest is actually much more pressing than “climate change.”
Whatever the merits of the attempts to limit the manmade contributions to “climate change,” our leaders are failing collectively to address the existential threat posed by both manmade and natural events that could cause the electric grid to collapse for an indefinite period. The consequences could lead to the death of many millions of Americans due to starvation, disease and societal collapse.
Furthermore, some of the efforts to limit the manmade contributions to climate change actually exacerbate the problems that limit our ability to protect the electric grid — and the “powers that be” seem oblivious to these conditions. As Americans wake up to these failures, they should demand that their representatives deal with them.
Needed is a serious assessment of all these activities — a worthy objective for the EMP Commission, re-established by the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that was just signed by President Obama. After an eight year hiatus, they deserve a most hearty “Welcome back” to the fray — and with an expanded charter!
Pray for better leadership in another year. We have been here before, most recently with the “malaise” of the late 1970s — with Ronald Reagan at the helm, we made our way back to an America that made us proud. Pray we can find a way to repeat that return to the American dream that has previously stirred so many — and kept us free.
Include a prayer that we preserve this the greatest nation in History for our posterity.
Near Term High Frontier Plans.
We will continue to inform our readers of the looming threats we confront—and where appropriate urge them to engage in countering that threat. Our leaders are failing at their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense”
We will press for building the most cost-effective ballistic missile defenses possible and working with South Carolina folks to build a coalition to engage constructively with private citizens and their local and state representatives and other authorities to work with the SC National Guard in understanding and responding to the existential threats to the electric power grid.
We are especially focused on the nuclear power reactors that produce 60 percent of SC electricity—and more generally 20-percent of the nation’s electricity.
If it can be assured that they “operate through” a major blackout of the electric power grid — and I believe it can, they can play a very important role for resurrecting it over an extended time and supporting the general public’s survival in the meantime.
What can you do?
Join us in praying for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Help us to spread our message to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do.
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage www.highfrontier.org, for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter.
Encourage them to review our past email messages, posted on www.highfrontier.org, to learn about many details related to the existential manmade and natural EMP threats and how we can protect America against them. I hope you will help us with our urgently needed efforts, which I will be discussing in future messages.
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