EIS Council’s Black Sky Event Resources

Some excellent publications have been coming out of the EIS Council.

If you haven’t had a chance to peruse them, they are located here: EIS Council Library

Some notable publications, from this author’s perspective are:

K Project Test Results EXSUM

“NOTE: According to the recent Oak Ridge Laboratory DOE / FERC / DHS Study, comparable GIC would likely damage about 365 large transformers in the U.S. power grid, leaving about 40 percent of the U.S. population without electrical power for 4 to 10 years during acquisition of replacement transformers”

Electric Infrastructure Protection Handbook

“According to industry and government studies in the United States and allied nations, there are growing risks of long duration, wide area electric outages due to a range of increasingly severe hazards, both natural and manmade. These hazards include catastrophic earthquakes, highly destructive hurricanes, Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) weapons, sophisticated cyber attacks and coordinated physical assaults on key grid components. Many of these hazards could cause electric power outages lasting far longer, and covering a much wider area, than those caused by Superstorm Sandy, and could strike with little or no warning.

Many of the Handbook’s proposals are structured to build resilience against all hazards, natural and manmade, that could cause catastrophic, extended duration power outages over multiple regions of the United States or other nations. This all-hazards approach to response planning is especially useful for framing recommendations to reduce the consequences such events will have for public safety, national security, and the economy. An all-hazards approach is also helpful for identifying new partnership opportunities to strengthen consequence management, and help utilities accelerate the restoration of power. In particular, the Handbook examines opportunities to build whole community preparedness against catastrophic outages, with contributions from individuals and their families, agencies at all levels of government, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the private sector.”

EIS Summit Report VII

“Shlomo Wald focused his talk on an aspect of Black Sky scenarios that tends to be ignored: “We forget one organic material object that is generally not discussed, and this is the social effect on the citizen.” Wald argued that this social dimension has a major effect on all of the other, physical systems important to societal resilience in extreme scenarios.

To illustrate his point, Wald described a fictitious country of 8-10 million people, about half the size of Switzerland, highly dependent on technology but not well prepared for an EMP event which would cause a widespread power outage and cascading failures of other infrastructures. He posited a nation-wide power outage caused by an EMP strike, from a terrorist-launched nuclear missile detonating at high altitude. Wald suggested that in such a situation, without specialized planning and training, even capable citizens with military or police experience would be too preoccupied with their family’s needs to take any responsibility for the public situation.

In such a scenario, looting and vandalism would become widespread. As Wald described the situation from the perspective of a typical fictitious citizen: “In the evening, he saw vandals going down and robbing supermarkets, banks, and things like that because no
policemen, no one gets there, and they took the opportunity — all the opportunists start to make money from the situation. But close to midnight he realized that also his neighbors are part of the mob. But his neighbors are good persons. They are obedient citizens.

What are they doing there?” There was a “phase transition in the society” As Wald put it, one could think of this “as a phase transition in the behavior of the society. People would become ‘hunters and gatherers.’

[In modern times] resources are in the supermarkets, the banks and in the hands of wealthy individuals.” In the absence of any clear plan, direction or government presence, public order would continue to deteriorate. Emergency relief in such a scenario, without specialized planning, training and resources, would also be seriously handicapped. With security forces unable to do more than maintain basic order, there would be little capability to support emergency response –sick, injured and disabled populations would be especially hard hit, with many fatalities. Although international aid would begin to arrive several days into such an event, the disrupted security environment would make it difficult to deploy and distribute. And given the levels of need, such aid might, in any case, have little impact.

In short, Wald suggested, without adequate planning, society could collapse quickly. Planning, therefore, must address not simply the technical and logistics problems of resource supplies, but must also focus strongly on social impacts which could prevent critical infrastructure restoration.”


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