A massive major storm taking out power to an entire swathe of the U.S. has the capability of leaving thousands without electricity for multiple weeks. Contrastingly, an electromagnetic pulse were to detonate over the middle of America, all the population’s means of communication, power, refrigeration, economy, and society would be at full mercy to the ionization of the particles in the air. It doesn’t take a particularly foreign threat to do much damage to the U.S. population. Despite the development of physical understanding and technologies, America is in this energetically vulnerable position due to lack of investment in improved energy transport infrastructure, specifically the electric power grid. There is much physics and engineering which allows for electromagnetic shielding, and there is also much literature and work done on improving operational procedures regarding our electrical power system. The only question is whether the U.S. government is prepared to being a serious and sophisticated analysis, reevaluation, monetary investment, and improvement upon the current existing infrastructure. Disinterest and funding shortfalls threaten America’s power grid as never before.
America has almost zero defensive and counter-threat infrastructure against EMP’s, which render electromagnetic devices useless. America can be fragmented and destroyed simply from disabling digital devices. Any foreign power with nuclear weapons can create an EMP over America. Power plants, substations, lines, devices, etc. would ultimately be severely damaged or obliterated by hostile foreign nations. Now more than ever the solution should be clear to scientists, engineers, the rest of the world, and America.
When one steps outside in America to examine the powerlines, it is hard to find any significant change at all since they were first erected. The only time we ever hardly see anything different or a replacement is during power outages. The antiquated delivery systems for electricity are only one such example of lack of interest and investment from the government according to CleanEnergyGrid.org. Powerlines, most of which are 30 years old, have not received investment since their inception. It would take a massive national effort and trillions of dollars to alter and re-engineer the dilapidated power grid. That is to say, the desperate changes America needs will not happen anytime soon, which only perpetuates the looming danger of losing society as we know it.
Many power plants were created during the post war boom following WWII. Yet, while WWII veterans become increasingly hard to come by, it is without scarcity to find a power plant dating to the 1940’s. so much so that the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the entire energy infrastructure a barely passing grade of D+ for all the United States. That is truly astounding considering electricity and its delivery is the literal powerhouse of our modern industrialized society. The U.S. government’s lack of interest, improvement, and investment in the power grid means that the state of our power systems has equivalently become a deteriorated and dilapidated relic with an increasing number of yearly problems.
As a matter of fact, America’s vulnerability and lacking in the energy sector currently ends up costing more money to supply electricity to millions of homes. If only investment would be made in changing or improving upon the power grid, then the investment would have a very good justification. So here a new vulnerability for America is created from the disinterest of change and funding: the vulnerability of American energy on the world market. Americans paying more for outdated power delivery simply because the infrastructure has not been maintained or updated properly hurts the American economy, but most importantly and principally, Americans which are paying for electricity at the ‘archaic’ price level.
Americans are still living in the shadow of development and technological progress while utilizing dilapidated and unprotected electric devices and power transmission. As is usually the case, lack of money is the issue. A lack of interest for investment in such a large and indispensable component of the American Machine is extremely dangerous, as all of the unshielded circuits which are abstracted away from us but inside everything we use are one short circuit away from complete inutility which implies the worst for America.
Cohen, A. (2019, April 05). Trump Moves To Protect America From Electromagnetic Pulse Attack. Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/arielcohen/2019/04/05/whitehouse-prepares-to-face-emp-threat/
Joshua D. Rhodes Postdoctoral Researcher of Energy. (2020, March 20). The old, dirty, creaky US electric grid would cost $5 trillion to replace. Where should infrastructure spending go? Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/the-old-dirty-creaky-us-electric-grid-would-cost-5-trillion-to-replace-where-should-infrastructure-spending-go-68290
Our Outdated Grid. (n.d.). Retrieved October 29, 2020, from https://cleanenergygrid.org/our-outdated-grid/