Source: Everything I’ve learned about solar storm risk and EMP attacks, by Chris Said
RE: “An assessment of threats to the American power grid” | Energy, Sustainability and Society volume 9, by Matthew Weiss & Martin Weiss
When I read this paper, I was stunned. Is the risk of prolonged grid collapse really that high? And is it true that, just as the CDC failed to stockpile masks for a pandemic that we were all warned about, we are equally unprepared for a grid failure that could lead to societal collapse and mass starvation?
To answer these questions, I did some homework. I read congressional testimony, think tank technical reports, a book, academic papers, insurance company assessments, several industry technical reports, and multiple reports in the trade media. What I found was at times contradictory. Somewhat troublingly, both sides of the issue accused each other of bias from financial incentives. Overall, my view is that while some of the EMP and solar storm risk is overhyped, it remains a serious issue, and one of the main tail risks we should be preparing for.
My own view is that while the ‘mainstream’ view is probably correct, and while there certainly has been some fearmongering, I am philosophically aligned with the alarmists. The mainstream belief at NASA in 1986 was that the Challenger was safe. The mainstream belief at Chernobyl in 1986 was that the reactor core could never rupture. The mainstream belief on Wall Street in 2007 was that mortgage-backed securities were safe.
Now that we have seen our preparedness level for Covid-19, who are you going to believe: The people saying “Don’t worry, we have this unpredictable and complex system under control” or the people waving their hands and shouting “correlated risk!” I’m with the people shouting “correlated risk!”, even though they’ll probably end up being wrong.