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Some surprises for preppers

by: Achak

Thu Jan 22, 2009 at 12:56:13 PM EST

Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts in Severe Space Weather Events.

Surprising conclusion of a NASA-funded study by the National Academy of Sciences.

In the 132-page report, experts detailed what might happen to our modern, high-tech society in the event of a "super solar flare" followed by an extreme geomagnetic storm. They found that almost nothing is immune from space weather-not even the water in your bathroom.

The problem begins with the electric power grid. "Electric power is modern society's cornerstone technology on which virtually all other infrastructures and services depend," the report notes. Yet it is particularly vulnerable to bad space weather.

According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness.

Achak :: Some surprises for preppers
NASA, January 21st 2009

According to the report, power grids may be more vulnerable than ever. The problem is interconnectedness.

To estimate the scale of such a failure, report co-author John Kappenmann of the Metatech Corporation looked at the great geomagnetic storm of May 1921, which produced ground currents as much as ten times stronger than the 1989 Quebec storm, and modeled its effect on the modern power grid. He found more than 350 transformers at risk of permanent damage and 130 million people without power. The loss of electricity would ripple across the social infrastructure with "water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, fuel re-supply and so on."

"The concept of interdependency," the report notes, "is evident in the unavailability of water due to long-term outage of electric power--and the inability to restart an electric generator without water on site."

"A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause ... extensive social and economic disruptions," the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.


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Look at the map of probable power system collapse. Yikes!
Thanks, Achak!  

There's also a link that shows state by state the percentage of transformers at risk of failure.  NH - 97%, PA - 55%, VA - 47%, CA-7%.  What a range.

What's the solution? The report ends with a call for infrastructure designed to better withstand geomagnetic disturbances, improved GPS codes and frequencies, and improvements in space weather forecasting. Reliable forecasting is key. If utility and satellite operators know a storm is coming, they can take measures to reduce damage-e.g., disconnecting wires, shielding vulnerable electronics, powering down critical hardware. A few hours without power is better than a few weeks.

Or a even few months for repairs, as the article said earlier.  
Okay, what does this mean:
Last Updated: June 9, 2005

Not that they've solved the problem by now, probably.

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

"Web of interdependencies" is a good graphic, too.
Is it copyrighted or free, I wonder.  It's credited to the Dept. of Homeland Security.

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

any govt graphic is fair use for you ;-)

[ Parent ]
This just goes to show that there are more than one big "end of the world as we know it" danger somewhere on the distant (or not so distant) horizon.  Thanks for posting it Achak.

From a quick search on the internet it appears we are entering into a new cycle, with peak activity a few years out.  If we were smart (people) we would take additional measures to prepare for such events.  An all hazards approach makes sense in this area as in others.  Prepare for all potential catastrophic events, whether pandemic, geomagnetic storms, nuclear...etc.  In this day and time, if the electrical grid goes down over a wide spread area in the developed world, then we rapidly find ourselves in worse shape than the developing countries.  It is the height of folly to ignore these dangers and not prepare.

Achak - good diary
 Welcome and thanks for starting a diary.

NASA mentioned sewage disposal. Actually I would have put that in the 3-6 hour range because of lift pumps, forced mains and processing.

 Unlike potable water or tap water that has water towers there is very little slack or storage in the sewage lines.

  Seriously - you see water towers throught the city but no sewage towers. It is not "kept on site"

 Yes the system is tight. 14 MGD (million gallons/day) in produces 14 MGD out. Even though water evaporates, is used for car washing and lawn watering there is alot of water (milk, soda, bottled water) that people add to the system. Its actually kinda neat - though a broken water main is far better than a broken forced (high pressure) sewage main.

 What ticks me off is there are specials about this on TV but not for pandemics.

 Note: Canada and northern cities are more vulnerable because of the geomagnetic field.
 Note: transformers are hand made, not produced at high speed like lawn mowers. Each transformer must be tested several ways after assembly. This is important because transformers are not a "stock item."


The Energy Autarcie of President Obama can make a difference
President Obama said it and appointed a Nobel Prize to Regent energy.

May Oil lobby are not the only one to be heard at the meeting.


"What it tells us is the virus is active and if we continue to get environmental conditions that favour the breeding of it, the likelihood of an outbreak is obviously greater."

Had to look up autarcie; definition referred to autoarky:
An autarky is an economy that is self-sufficient and does not take part in international trade, or severely limits trade with the outside world. Likewise it refers to an ecosystem not affected by influences from the outside, which relies entirely on its own resources. In the economic meaning, it is also referred to as a closed economy.


Energy independence?  We can pay now or pay (and suffer more) later, but we have to get there, don't we?  

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

[ Parent ]
City info
Some info some preppers might want answers for

 1) how many square miles is your city
 2) What is its population
 3) Who makes the water
 4) Where does the water come from lake? river?
 5) Who takes care of the sewage
 6) What are the age demographics


Looking at the map...
I only saw one red dot for upstate n.y.
However, giving that we went through the "great blackout" a few years back, where the whole east coast and into Canada went out, wouldn't that still happen if that one station went? I'm not to knowledgable about this stuff, but to cottontop's mind, if the main engine blows, the sub stations will start to go. Yes?

The reason I'm asking, is the "explaination" that was given for that blackout, was either a power plant or station caught on fire. Therefore the whole east coast and Canada went out. That's alot to be affected with just one plant or station going down. Couldn't the same chain reaction happen if power plants/sub stations were knocked out by solar activity?

United we stand: Divided we fall

my interpretation of the graph is that the indicated areas have susceptible equipment - scary isn't that a given area would be susceptible; scary is that all indicated areas would be susceptible to a superstorm --- ie, we would likely lose the grid, with perhaps years required to replace all the individual components destroyed in the storm.

[ Parent ]
immediately, it might not be as bad as a HEMP - perhaps smaller electronics would survive ok...  could actually be worse tho, even if the smaller electronics survive - i'd be concerned about worldwide impact - replacing large transformers means that transformer manufacturing capability somewhere in the world needs to survive - and those facilities generally use a good bit of electricity.

[ Parent ]
Human Waste - Sewage
Human waste is the biggest problem in any situation.  If you will not be able to flush your toilet what do you do?

Any one have a good solution out there!  

Chemical toilets will fill up fast, and many do not have these anyway.  Dumping in the yards will be really bad.

The government needs to figure the human waste disposal before they feed the people.  What goes in must come out!

We will have millions of people who will need to go to the bathroom and no sewage disposal plants working!

Yes, a big problem!
Another reason why the government should be alerting everyone about this.  What will happen in cities where nearly every surface is paved, so nowhere to bury wastes?  Imagine healthy residents in apartment buildings, that will be bad enough, but when they're sick and desperate, too?  "Gardy-loo" and there goes a bucket-full out the window.  Yuck.

What about suburbs with houses close together? If people aren't taught the correct disposal methods, we'll be polluting the very earth in which we're hoping to plant our food supply.  (Think of heavy spring rains making "stuff" flow.)

Even suburbs with more open land have slopes where water flows.  Neighbors need to help each other, not fight over each other's pollution damage.  

This will not be an abstract problem when pandemic hits.  It'll be very messy.

"The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it."  Flannery O'Connor

[ Parent ]
Solution for Sewage
The most sustainable solution I know of is called the "Composting Toilet".  (Difficult in cities but possible anywhere you have some backyard space for a compost pile)

You need 2 containers such as plastic 5 gallon buckets.

Fill one with some type of composting cover:   sawdust is great, also dirt, compost, leaf mold, even shredded newspapers in a pinch.

Put a toilet seat over the other container.  

After using the toilet receptacle, lay down an inch or so of cover material.  There should be no (or little) smell.

When the bucket is pretty full, you take it out to your compost pile.   To be safest, use this compost only for flowers and bushes, not vegetable gardens -- or read up on how to safely compost "human manure".

See this video!  Humanure Composting at a Music Festival Using 5 Gallon Receptacals:


How To Build a $25 Toilet:


GetPandemicReady.org - non commerical website with practical ways for families to prepare.

[ Parent ]
Alternate Solution-
-but not as ecological a solution and some may not find the space, but it's an alternative, like I said:

Make sure that you have on hand:

- plenty of plastic bags on hand. (Plastic grocery sacks are good)
- Lime (the white powdery kind, not the green one you eat), kitty litter or sawdust
- A safe, hygenic place to store the used bags that is out of the way of kids, food, pesky critters, an underground water source.

(1) You can line a bucket OR your own private toilet with the plastic bag.
(2) You sprinkle adequate lime, kitty litter or sawdust in the bottom of the bag for absorbtion.
(3) Use your plastic lined potty.
(4) Tie up the bag
(5) Dispose of in an area of your property or in a designated container until Sanitation services are back up and running.

www.EmergencyHomePreparation.org -- A 'card-catalog' style of prepping information.   -

[ Parent ]
President Obama Infrastructures Revamp Program
There are totally solar city water systems, pumps included.

There are many technologies already available to secure our basics needs as People.

May the lobbyist granths enough time to the lobby of new energy and infrastrucures systems, and may, their proposals reach those who works for change.


"What it tells us is the virus is active and if we continue to get environmental conditions that favour the breeding of it, the likelihood of an outbreak is obviously greater."

Energy Efficient Equipment, Technology and Operating Strategies
Energy and Water Efficiency in Water and Wastewater Facilities
Energy Efficient Equipment, Technology and Operating Strategies

The audit results are in and there are a number of changes, large and small, that can be made to save on energy costs! Facilities have many options to conserve energy ranging from changing light bulbs and upgrading pumps and motors to installing co-generation systems and renewable energy technologies. We've highlighted many of these energy saving options below and provided case studies to show you how some facilities have used these equipment, technology and operating strategies to save money and reduce their impact. Additionally, the California Energy Commission provides information on a range of energy efficient technologies. Exiting EPA (disclaimer)


Department of Energy - U.S. Department of Energy to Provide up to ...
Each city will adopt a variety of approaches to building up their solar infrastructure and deploying cutting-edge technologies, ... ENERGY STAR Residential Water Heaters to Save Americans Up to $823 Million in the Next Five Years ...

...wonder if these ooptions are part of the infrastructures programs.


"What it tells us is the virus is active and if we continue to get environmental conditions that favour the breeding of it, the likelihood of an outbreak is obviously greater."

Completes Solar Installation at Valley Center Municipal Water District
WorldWater & Solar Technologies Completes Solar Installation at Valley Center Municipal Water District
Mon Jan 5, 2009 8:08am EST

WorldWater & Solar Technologies Corp. (OTC BB: WWAT.OB), developer and marketer of proprietary high-horsepower solar systems, today announced that it has completed installation of a 1.1 MW solar power system for the Valley Center Municipal Water District (VCMWD) of Valley Center, California.

The system, which was financed and will be owned, operated, and maintained by Solar Power Partners, Inc. (SPP) of Mill Valley, California, will provide 2.1 million kWh per year of electricity for the district, offsetting up to 20% of the electricity required by their largest pumping station.

The project was developed using a solar Power Purchase Agreement, which required no cash outlay from VCMWD, who will purchase the generated power from SPP for the twenty-five year life of the agreement.

"I am pleased to announce the successful completion of our flat-plate solar installation at Valley Center, on schedule and to the client`s specifications,"
said Frank Smith, CEO, WorldWater and Solar Technologies. "This is another example of our ability to deliver `best in class` solar technology to large commercial clients, as we did for Denver International Airport and Fresno Yosemite International Airport.

The experience gained from these installations will serve us well as we look to bring our ENTECH CPV and CPVT modules to the market this year."


"What it tells us is the virus is active and if we continue to get environmental conditions that favour the breeding of it, the likelihood of an outbreak is obviously greater."


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