Not Rodney….

But another kind of Carrington….

A Carrington event would be Bad. How bad?

Think no power or communication. Think of the consequences of that loss.

While likely not as bad as depicted in “One Second After”, It would likely be bad. Very Bad. No one knows for sure. Could be only an inconvenience. Could be worse that we think.

If you live in an area where Ice Storms are common, you’ve likely been inconvenienced by power outages for hours/days/weeks. Most people get their power back in a few hours or at worst a few days. Imagine that squared. No power for your TV/internet or your fridge. (and no internet, period, but we’ll get to that later), no power for your heater. No way to get fuel for your generator (if you even have one). No resolution after weeks or months.

Your home is likely similar to mine. You need AC power to run your fridge, your oven, your furnace. You need gas or electric power for your water heater and/or your furnace. You need AC to run your well (if you have one) or your water company needs it for their pumps (they may have backup, diesel powered pumps, but for how long do they store fuel?  Enough to power the pumps for WEEKS??) What about if you live in the south? Can you survive without air conditioning? If not, you’d better have a plan.

Every service needs power. Even if only 10% of the power distribution infrastructure is damaged, it could take years to repair. Many transformers are built to specific need, and are not stocked in quantity. Several years ago, due to an ice storm, many power poles in my area were broken due to the weight of ice and snow (and wind). The utilities ran out of replacement poles, and restoration of power to many homes was delayed  for a week or so while additional sources for the 3000+ poles were found and said poles were trucked to the area. Now think about transformers which have 3-5 week lead times, maybe 3-4 months….Multiplied by the thousands. And trucks which have no fuel and therefore cannot move said equipment to the areas needed, even if they could be produced without power to begin with. How do we find enough people with the knowledge to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again quickly?

How about your local stores? With no computerized registers, how are they going to be able to take your money for the food you need? How about ordering? How will the trucks get there to bring food, even if they have a way to reorder? What about the meat that you need….and milk? Not going to last long in the summer without refrigeration. No bread either, because the bakery is down without power, and they only keep 2 days (if that) of flour on hand.

Now add in the failure of most communications devices. No telephone for weeks/months. No cell phones. No internet/cable. Not that it matters, because many folks won’t have any power to run those devices. No internet/digital lines for communication. No working (or at least only partially working) switching centers for the internet and phone lines. Likely no satellite communication either. Even if you can power these devices with generators, the surge will likely have damaged the equipment. And again, where do all these generators come from? How about the fuel to run them?

So if you have no AC and no communications, how do you distribute food ? How do you move the fuel needed to transport all the repair parts (and technicians), the food and other supplies we need in order to survive? How many people have more than a few days of food on hand, or the means to store or or acquire it without a working transportation infrastructure?

Lets not forget that with no communications, there is no banking as we know it today. Few actual dollars are transported, compared to the real amounts of “money” we move with ones and zeros, passed from computer to computer, with little actual cash passed from bank to bank. How do stores pay for the food and supplies that they want to order (but can’t because there is no communication). How do YOU get paid, in order that you can pay the store for the food? (that they don’t have, and cannot order, and are unable to have delivered….)

With no working phone system, how do you call for the police (who can’t get there because they have no fuel for their vehicles) when someone decides that your meager supply of food would be better used by him and his family/group rather than by you and yours? The thin veneer of civilization will not last when people are faced with hunger (especially when THEIR children are crying because their stomachs are empty).

There is no place to go, as your choices are either bad, or worse locations in which to live. Few areas will want refugees, because they have the same issues from which you were retreating. Few are going to want to share what little food and shelter they have, as this is no short term thing. Many folks will be forced to make hard choices between their sense of charity and compassion and feeding their families. Likely, you, as an outsider, will find yourself unwelcome should you try to find a better place to take your family.

I’m not saying that this will happen, nor am I saying that everyone will go “Mad Max” and our society will break down. Nor am I saying that the US will end. But for a few months, maybe a year or two, things will be very different from the reality we now experience. The US is strong, and the people (for the most part) resilient. Rebuilding would likely happen quickly.

HOWEVER:  While there are those in this society who will work hard to make things better, there are also those who expect things to be handed to them in today’s society, and who will be willing to take what is yours with very little thought or remorse if things go “SMASH”. If you think everyone is going to be nice in such a situation, you are a fool. Right now, there are criminals. People with moralities and values which bear little resemblance to yours or mine. And let’s face it, right now things are relatively good, and relatively prosperous.  Wait until things get hard. If the luxury of AC power goes away…. if the work done by coal and atoms and hydropower ceases to exist, then there will be many more whose morality will crumble. A higher concentration, perhaps, in the inner cities, but many are living not too far from your home right now. Many are held in check and behave only because the federal and state government essentially provide them with enough food and other basics… they are bribed to behave. And many of the people you meet on the street and in stores will follow their lead, once they lose THEIR jobs (and the support/comfort/food/shelter that they gain from those jobs). That nice guy who lives on the corner? He works, and he is happy, and comfortable, and law abiding. But take away the job, and the income, and the supplies and food and comfort which they supply, and see if he is still a nice guy when he is cold, and hungry, and his kids haven’t eaten in a week. Bet he isn’t that nice guy you thought he was. You’d better not be a nice guy either. Doesn’t mean you should become an animal, but you’d better be careful, and you’d better not trust him. You really don’t know him that well. Likely he won’t trust you either.

I’d like to believe that most of us are moral, hard working people. And likely most of us would continue to be. But enough folks won’t be that things will be different. No police to help. Most cities will empty, as people attempt to find food and water and shelter that doesn’t require electrical power to make it habitable. People will likely follow roads to areas that are perceived to be better. If you think I am wrong, look at what happened during Katrina. Most people that were affected waited for help. Some, however, took the opportunity to loot what they could, and then when they became hungry and thirsty they began moving to other areas. IIRC, the Police Chief of Gretna, which is a municipality outside of New Orleans, set up a roadblock to keep people out of the town, and made them wait for aid. Probably not a bad idea. But what happens after a few weeks? Who is going to stop people like them then?

FEMA plans on having private contractors (truckers) bring the materials they need to help rebuild. Again, where are the truckers going to find fuel? And, while FEMA and the Army and other government folks did an adequate job post Katrina, they were stretched to the limit.

 Multiply Katrina by a factor of 50. Subtract fuel. Subtract the idea of moving people to areas not damaged.  Add in the chaos caused by little or no communication. Subtract electrical power…Add in a bit of hunger after 2 or more weeks. Subtract police presence. You do the math here.

The result? I really hope that what I see is wrong. But if you are smart, you’ll look at the above equation and come up with a plan for it. Can you plan for everything? NOPE. But you can plan for many of the issues. Have a plan to feed your family for a month or two. Have a plan to keep the food that you have prepared  and your shelter in YOUR possession. Have a plan for keeping your house habitable. Know where there is a source of water, and how to get it safely, and make it safe to drink. Plan on an alternate source of heat, if you live in an area where you need heat in the winter. Figure out what to do when there is no water for waste disposal. If you have no skills, then think about acquiring some.

Plan for, and PREPARE for these things now. THEN is too late. NOW is the time. How to prepare depends on your location, your circumstances, and your abilities.

Yeah, I know I sound like I am nuts. Maybe I am. But : ’tis better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it”. A few dollars and a bit of forethought now might make a HUGE difference then. 

Will it be as bad as discussed in the article and above? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe only in some areas. Maybe it’ll be worse. Maybe we won’t notice it at all. But if we have an event as suggested above you choices to prepare or not, to spend money on some supplies or on a new flat screen TV might well decide which part of the Darwinian sorting you find yourself and your family on.

Your choice.

Think about it.

8 thoughts on “Not Rodney….

  1. Overwhelming, really. I spend the day being an engineer. I would have to instantly shift to be, what? I have a lot of skills, some of which would apply in an emergency. I'd need to be able to put those skills into play immediately.

    Makes me want to learn more. Learn and become proficient at things that range from candle making to blacksmithing. Master hand tools.

    From engineer to what? Tradesman? Jack of all trades?

  2. "Knowledge, like preparation, is power."

    Sadly I've forgotten more power than most people ever gained. Heh.

    I need to think about this seriously. I doubt that I'll master bunches of low-tech skills, but some should be in the works. If I spend the next year learning how to make a wagon wheel, it might be a completely useless skill.

    There is too much 'survivalist' flack on the internet to be immediately useful. I'd need to really think this through, and probably link up with people that I know could supplement / compliment skills.

  3. If you are an engineer, you have the math, chemistry and other knowledge which can help you become whatever you need.

    You can become a distiller of grains. Make booze or fuel. Or collect and purify methanol for fuel.

    or heat treat and otherwise become a blacksmith….or a brickmaker. Build a forge or a kiln.

    Or use knowlege of levers and ropes and pulleys to make simple machines to build/repair buildings.

    Perhaps use the above ideas to engineer and make electrical windmills. Or just plain windmills for pumping water or grinding grain or to power a lineshaft.

    Or use your knowlege of basic chemistry to help make batteries. Or explosives/powder. Or just charcoal.

    Maybe make a boiler and a steam engine. make power and heat that way.

    Being the engineeer, you have the knowlege (if you are a decent engineer who attended a decent school). How you use it is up to you.

    and knowlege will be power. Few practical, learned people will starve, if they try to succeed.

    If you know nothing, you begin with a deficit.

  4. I have a strong urge to quote you and magically make this the first post…

    (no problem. your expanded post was great.)

  5. Thanks…Good read. I am adding you to my blog list, I stopped by from the link you put up at MArooned 🙂

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