By Will Wainwright

Have you thought about       

what you would do without electricity?       

And how easily this might come about?       


Eons ago man made his first tools from wood, stone, bone and antlers. This was before fire which came later as a "bolt" out of the blue. For his/her next discovery mankind discovered the first practical use of copper, silver, Iron and lead, ushering in the Bronze ages. Around 3500 BC the wheel was conceived and not long after came the first written language, with its paper - papyrus.

Think of all those great civilizations from the early Mesopotamian to the Egyptians, Greeks, Persians and Romans. From the other side the world, The Mayans, Aztecs, and the Incan. They all have come and gone. Still mankind survived. Man grew crops he hunted. He fought to enslave for labor and with labor built buildings and cities and great monuments to himself. Then came Europe's renaissance and the birth of the modern age. Up to this point, all of mankind's accomplishment and achievements were without electricity.


100 Paper from pulp - Writing (Asia), migrated to Europe by 1000
900 Gun powder came on the scene in Asia, (Firearms a couple centuries later).
1000 Cams and cranks lead to mill stones and clocks.
1450 Saw the Printing press.
1609 Galileo Galilei builds a practical telescope and makes many celestial discoveries.
1650 Englishmen Browne & Gilbert began experimentation with electricity & magnetism.
1700 Saw Fultons steam engine usher in the industrial revolution.
1800 Saw Samuel Morse’s first practical use of electricity, the telegraph.
1859 Oil was discovered in Pennsylvania and distilled to produce kerosene for lighting.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell (is generally credited) for the invention of the telephone.
1880 Marked the beginning of Thomas Edison's commercially manufactured light bulbs.
1892 Karl Benz invented the automobile, using a Kerosene by-product called Gasoline as a fuel.
1895 Guglielmo Marconi proved the feasibility of radio communication.
1895 Began the first Large-scale electricity generation at Niagara Falls.

Till this point, man has survived primarily by living off the land using farming techniques learned over the generations and using brawn and brain power. Fact is most of the great inventors mentioned above lived a good part, if not all of their lives, without any practical use of electricity.

Man had domesticated animals for powe,r for food and clothing and caught fish using nets. He learned to weave, sew and knit over the years, tame and ride horses and sail ships on the seas using the wind. He learned to use Whale oil as a major source for lighting, he also learned how to store and preserve foods. He learned to harness the wind using windmills and grist mills for agriculture. Once man learned to tap the power of the Niagara and other rivers, now electricity does it all for us and cheaply too.

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IN 1900 IT ALL BEGAN - first slowly - our addiction to Electricity. Without it, most of our ingenuity would not have followed. Electricity takes the foremost roll in mans inventions without which the telegraph, telephone automobile and radio would not exist. Not to mention Refrigeration and the technological wonders that followed. Motion pictures, cameras, phonographs, the airplane, radar, Xrays, television, computers and MRI's, and come lately, drones and robots.

Jumping ahead only 140 years to 2020, electricity is now foremost in our survival only third behind oxygen and water. I'll say that again in case you missed it. Electricity is now foremost in our survival only third behind oxygen and water. At the fundamental level, electricity runs the pumps that bring our water and remove the sewer waste through numerous lift stations. It is integral in all internal combustion engines from farm tractors and combines, to automobiles, planes and trains, buses and subways. Dont forget cranes and all sorts of infrastructure construction equipment. Then there are elevators and traffic lights and we haven’t even touched on the myriad of appliances that reside in todays modern home.

Now the electronics; Smart phones, TV's and appliances of course, computers, iPads, hearing aids. How about medical support devices and specialized devices we dont even know about. Then there is the silly stuff like my electric reclining ottoman and beds, electric tooth brush and even smart toilets. Dont forget the charging devices for all the battery powered appliances, gadgets, toys and tools we use. And now we must add battery powered automobiles and their chargers to the list, putting furthure demand on our electrical grid.

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I remember seeing an episode of Star Trek where the evil doers held hostage an entire planet. They were dependent on them for the manufacture of Felicium which offered temporary relief for their unknown addiction, thought as a plague, which was purposely inflicted by the villianous race generations ago. If only they knew, a week of rather uncomfortable withdraw symptoms would cure them of this dependency forever. (Wow that sounds eerily familiar with 2020 having need of a vaccine to be free of a manufactured Coronavirus and its resulting Pandemic. But that is another story.)

Imagine humanity now in the same situation, dependent on a product for which we had no need of only 150 years ago. Issac Newton, Christopher Columbus, Abraham Lincoln lived with out it.  Even Napoleon, Baron Lionel de Rothschild, Ben Franklin, Robert Fulton and, Cornelius Vanderbilt lived without this life sustaining staple too. What is it? Electricity.

TODAY WE ARE NOW AS DEPENDENT ON ELECTRICITY AS THE OXYGEN WE BREATHE. As you can see, this was not the case of the not too distant past. What will we do without those amps, volts and watts when that day comes? And it could come abruptly. Are you prepared? 

For any prolonged period, we will have three - four days before food spoils, medicine and water run out, batteries die with constant use, and society will effectively collapse. This is assuming you cant drive to an area where there is power. This occurrence is exactly what was seen in California in the fall of 2019 - 2020 where PGE deliberately turned off the power to prevent forrest fires. Fire damage aside, the loss of power caused great distress and hardship for about 730,000 customers across 34 counties. Shop owners and business shut down. So did schools, fortunately most hospitals had generators. Then there was Texas in early 2021, only it was a deep freeze. Frozen wind turbines cause electric over load in many areas killing water pumps on top of electricity. My son lost water for three days in Austin. As a result folks in his condo were scooping water from their pool to fill their tub to use to flush the toilet. The whole state was minuties away from total Collapse. WSJ article Just a small taste of doing without the Electricity.

WHAT IF OUR GPS GOES DOWN.   It wasn’t too long ago - just 25 years, that this wouldn’t have been an issue.

In addition to hacking, the GPS satellites, can be damaged by electromagnetic storms, and even military attack. GPS is vital to Americans, but hacking it has never been easier. Protecting the civilian Global Positioning System, an invisible utility the federal government pays for, falls to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He would do well to use the results of the Transportation Department’s January report on technologies that can back up GPS and keep the country moving in a GPS Only attack. Full Story

YOU ASK, how could we lose our electricity on a grand scale? Simply put, there are three ways this could happen with only two resultant outcomes - one really bad, one even worse. Two are man made, one by nature.

The first and seemingly easiest way of turning off our electricity would be Cyber Warfare, AKA hacking. Specifically the disabling of our nations power grid.  Most of us have read about Cyber Warfare as the means by which a foe gains access to our most secret computing and data facilities, be they private, governmental or industrial. We would mostly hear of it when it is a major department store like Target and Macys or service industry giant such as JP Morgan Chase bank. Even tech giants like Google, Amazon and eBay are not exempt. The CEO of Twitter had his account hacked causing him some serious embarrassment. 

So far damage has been financial and limited to the stealing of information and secrets for either sale or blackmail. Other pranks are more serious, like the encryption of records rendering then useless unless a ransom is paid, hence their name Ransomware. The big target here is cities and municipalities. There have been hundreds hit, most of which  is unwanted publicity so you dont hear about them. One you may have heard of is the City of Baltimore, not wanting to pay the $75,000 ransom so wound up paying over $18 Million trying to undo the damages. The resort town of Sarasota, FL was also hit a couple times although hushed up. And  22 small town banks were hit in one week in West Texas. Most are finding out it is cheaper to pay than fight. So far their impact has been just costly and embarrassing. Physical harm has been negligible. However………..

Late in 2020 the US experienced a massive, supposedly Russian hack the details of which are still kept under wraps. Just the scope based on the numbers is unnerving. These are a few of the Government Agencies hit: 

       Department of State and  Office of the President

       Department of Homeland Security...

       National Institutes of Health...

       The Pentagon & Five branches of the U.S. military

       Department of Energy...

       Department of the Treasury...

       Department of Commerce…

       State and local governments…

       Center for Disease Control…

And such industrial giants as


       Ford Motor Company…

       Lockheed Martin

To name a few.

Earlier that year a WSJ article reads: China has taken hacking to a new level. Ghosts in the Clouds: Inside China’s Major Corporate Hack. A Journal investigation finds the "Cloud Hopper" attack was much bigger than previously known......... Making matters more complicated, the hackers had gained access to the company’s cyber incident response team, according to several people familiar with the matter. As Hewlett Packard Enterprise worked to clear infections, the hackers monitored the process—and sneaked back into the cleaned systems, beginning the cycle again, one of the people said."...... "It’s an open question whether hackers remain inside companies’ networks today"  

One of the most clever offensive cyber hacks was the Stuxnet virus which was specifically designed for just one purpose - to impearl  specific Iranian equipment  used in their nuclear research and facilitation projects. In this case it spread peacefully through the internet until if sooner or later hit upon the equipment for which it was designed to disrupt and or destroy. The problem was other countries using the same devices were also hit. And its still probably out there of no consequence except for Siemens SCADA systems which by now have remedied the problem.

That is Cyber warfare. A hacker selecting a target, gathers or destroys info and often resells it. Equipment is sometimes destroyed too. Lastly a virus can be launched are random bringing down computers world wide when a set of circumstances are met. It can even be just for the fun of it.

IF OUR ELECTRICAL GRID IS ATTACKED, will we even know who is the culprit? It doesn't have to be China or Russia but rather a rogue player in a country as small as Estonia or even from a basement in Brooklyn.  

And if our power grid has been cascaded into shutdown by a hacking sometimes called a Black Sky Event, generating equipment need not be destroyed, although there could be local burnouts. There be no impact on battery powered devices and equipment until their charge is lost. Cellular would hold up for a little while. Cars and trucks would run. Refrigeration and gas station pumps - no.  And a biggie, municipal water pumps and sewer lift stations -no. (Local generator backup could extend the aforementioned.)  And lastly, most desired items have disappeared from store shelves for cash paying customers (no ATM's or registerss). Wind and solar generation would be useless except for private home installation. (A small taste of this was experienced during the first COVID-19 shutdown in the spring of 2020). Oh, at time of writing, VW and GM have committed to going all electric within a dozen years. You got to be kidding! See story on battery powered Cars.  Needless to say there will be a mad rush to isolate the cause and get the power on before the situation becomes chaotic.

We already know hackers have been snooping around our energy companies for weaknesses to exploit. The stories are many and frequent, some of  significant detail. So for more info, and while the internet is up,  just google "electrical grid hacking". It's just a matter of time, before our electrical grid, could be taken down by a subtle and devious hacker. An article with significant detail appears here in the WSJ. Followed by Utilities Targeted in Cyberattacks Identified. 

I mention this because this event went under the radar for years. Back in 2014, the attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables. Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life. Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp. 's Metcalf transmission substation till this day in 2020. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.

The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time. The Wall Street Journal chronology of the attack is HERE

The threat to the U.S. electric grids is so serious that in June of 2019 a group of presidential advisers said the country needs to prepare for a "catastrophic power outage" possibly caused by a cyberattack. The NIAC and chief executives of companies engaged in critical industries, said resources need to be stockpiled in community enclaves to prevent mass migrations of desperate people. "They've [the hackers] have had access to the button, but they haven't pushed it," said Jonathan Homer, Homeland Security's chief of industrial control system analysis.

One question looms. What happens if a Black Sky event takes place when a good percentage of our cars are electric? Obviously there will be no charging during the event. In fact, I’d almost expect electric transportation to be motivation enough for a hacker to do a little mischief. Better stick to a hybrid. Incidentally, the electrical energy to keep auto and truck batteries charged means more power generation and a huge increase in the distribution infrastructure.

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THE SECOND AND MOST SERIOUS cause of a Black Sky Events will cause what is estimated to take about 72 hours before there is complete social collapse. It can arrive one of two ways, one man made, and one by nature which is inevitable - Solar Radiation. See video.  

Our life giving neighbor, our sun occasionally hiccups in the form of coronal mass ejection (CME) which is a release of plasma and accompanying magnetic field. It happens regularly but fortunately not in our direction. The current cycle began in 2019 to peak in 2025. Without going too scientific on you, just be aware if it is relatively strong and pointed towards us, most of our sensitive electronics would fry. We speak of the small electronic boards that run everything from out electric tooth brush to Cell phone to industrial controls. Cars would stop and tragically so would airplanes. Oh, and what about folks on dialysis or with pacemakers? With a CME  however, we should get about a about a half-a-day advance notice before arrival from its genesis, if it’s detected.

And in case you are wondering,  yes, it has happened twice before. Luckily it was at the dawn of electricity when the only thing electric was the telegraph. Still this first CME, called the Carrington Event, was strong enough that operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment - some bad enough to set fires. Northern lights were reported as far south as Cuba and Honolulu. As these events are pretty much on an eleven year cycle there have been others but fortunately focused away from earth.  You wouldn't want to be in the International Space Station, an airplane, fast moving car, subway or elevator.  

Lastly, in 1989, ground currents from a less intense geomagnetic storm knocked out a high-voltage transformer at a hydroelectric power plant in Quebec, plunging the Canadian province into a prolonged 9-hour blackout on an icy winter night. 

SIMILARLY THERE IS A MAN MADE EQUIVALENT called an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). It is essentially a nuclear detonation high in our atmosphere is designed to create a similar event with minimal destruction to physical property. This would no doubt include many terrifying effects including a blinding flash of light. A recent congressional study titled “Nuclear EMP Attack Scenarios and Combined-arms Cyber Warfare” suggest foreign governments are already undertaking research into such endeavors. 

"President Trump’s 'Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses' (March 26, 2019) — designed to protect electric grids and other life sustaining critical infrastructures from potentially catastrophic blackout by manmade or natural EMP — is in danger of being undermined by politics in general, electric utility lobbyists and the non-experts at the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission" says Peter Vincent Pry.

Either way, CME or EMP our entire continent could be effected with the paralyzing of circuits inside modern electronics on a massive scale. The power grid, phone and internet lines, satellite uplinks and other infrastructure and equipment using electronic circuits would also be prone to the effects rendering them useless unless protected by a Faraday cage.

Imagine this scenario: 

The weather is fair on a typical day. You are in suburbia.

Early risers cant turn on the lights or check their clocks. Your iPhone is dead - nothing. You make your way to the bathroom throw some water in your face and brush your teeth by the moon light coming through the bathroom window. The water is still warm and pressure is still there for the moment. 

You look out the window and see a glowing sunrise on the horizon. Funny, nothing is moving - no cars, no sounds except the birds. You cant turn on the TV to find out what's happening, still you decide to wake the family and you head to the kitchen. Oops, you cant even make your cherished cup of coffee with you Keruig. But you can boil some water at the stove, the natural gas is still working - the electric ignition is not. You have to light it with a match - do I have one? microwave and refrigerator - all dark. What the hell is happening.

You think, It must be a blackout like the one you read about when a little defective relay plunged the whole NE United States into darkness. But then the cars and radio worked and even my CB radio worked. Not this time. What to do?

You head outside and glance upwards. Without ambient light, you see more stars than you ever have before. Soon you meet up with some neighbors and start discussing the situation. One asks with reply, “have you tried to start your car? - Dont bother. I tried to charge my iPhone in the car nothing happened. I even had to use the key to open the door, the remote wouldn't work, and of course I had to open the garage manually. Holy crap what the hell is happening”.

Just about then Joe ran up to join the conversation and put in his two cents. "You know, I once read about some kind of sun burst activity that could shoot high energy magnetism this way, or something like it. As per the article's suggestion, I put my boats walkie talkie in a metal tool box along with a portable radio and double 'A' batteries".  The boat's VHF radio was in his hand and working. We all listen anxiously to the static ridden transmission saying; "We have experienced a solar flare and all electronics and the regional electric grid was down. Communications are practically non existent. The extent was unknown. Stay indoors.  If you are on the water with power, or under sail, return to port. If not anchor your craft if possible. This is the United States Coast Guard Montauk Point. - Out".  The message repeated.

The next 72 hours are critical to your survival. Ironically, a century ago this wouldn't have been a big deal. In fact it would have hardly been noticed. But subtilely mankind has become dependent on electricity as much as the oxygen we breathe. Think about that, and think about everything we really depend on that is electric/electronic and what we’d do to counter its loss. Do you still have a wind up clock? How about matches, a propane grill?


In the first case - loss by hacking - there would be minimal destruction to electronics. Just loss of power except battery power for a short period. The most serious effects will impact primarily the cities. Elevators, subways, being stuck in your 26th floor co-op. Your battery powered radio tells you to hang on, power will resume in 24 to 72 hours. Hopefully you have a weeks supply of canned foods and bottled water in your pantry.

Beyond that we now enter the realm / domain of the PREPPER - a trend that became popular during the Obama administration. There was even a weekly TV show of the same name. One very popular website is and there is a lot of material that can be googled TODAY!. But remember the internet will be gone when you need it .

It is not our intent to get into the subject of prepping, except for mentioning a few fundamentals. It never hurts under any circumstances to have a portable radio flashlight with plenty of batteries best kept in a metal tool box or equivalent.  A couple weeks's worth of canned food that need not be refrigerated. Plenty of water too. If you can, store a couple of 5 gallon containers of gas for your car (only in a safe place like a detached shed). And Yes, one of the first things do disappear is toilet paper even paper towels as you found out during the COVID-19 lockdowns. See list 

In the Second Case Scenario - a CME or EMT Event.

You'll have to resort to your primal instincts unless you have prepared and are at, or can get to, your safe location aka "Bug Out" home. Fundamentally,  get out of the city. Have a plan.

Often over looked is the fact that water and sewer will cease flowing except limitedly if you live in a country town with a gravity fed water tower and have a septic system.

As you can see electricity is humanity's life blood, especially if you are on dialysis or have a pace maker. If the power remains off past a week there will be anarchy. Survival will be humanities primary instinct. Teaming up with others can be useful. And of course so would firearms and knowledge of their use.

There is no time like the present to bone up on Prepping. Aside from the issue of loss of electricity and or electronics, what about political unrest. Out of the question?

In summary, this writer puts a Black Sky event happening in this order of possibility. 1) Hacking. I’d say before 2025. I’d like to think I’ll still be around so I’ll see for myself. 2) CME is the only one that is for sure but I’m guessing at not later than the end of the century. Maybe we’ll figure out a protection by then. Lastly at 3) an EMP. The only thing here to add, it doesn’t have to be Russia or China. 

What would give me a chuckle is seeing the myriad of Millennials and GenZ folks staring at their iPhones the moment this happens, the hissy fits they'd throw and not a clue what's going on or what to do except head out to their safe space. See Video

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This writers limited personal experience.

Most of us have experienced an outage for up to a day, maybe two. I for one experienced 8 1/2 day such an event during Hurricane Gloria. Fortunately I  had bought a 6KW Honda gas generator a year prior. It was in my garage and exhausted through the wall to the outside and ran relatively quiet. It was hooked to my refrigerator, a few lights, TV (before cable) for the news and the oil burner as it got pretty cold at night. Oh, I even ran an extension chord next door for my neighbors refrigerator and a couple lights and my son made me run an extension chord to his fish tank. And yes, we had our own septic system.

Here is a clue to what might happen today as was for us back then.  After two days my generator was out. and I couldn't find a gas station within 25 miles that had electricity to run their pumps. Fortunately my cars were fueled up, and eventually found a service station who had it's own generator.  

Having lived through the fuel crisis of the 70's, I promised myself one thing. I would always own a Diesel VW, the first being a Rabbit. I added an aftermarket extra 10 gallon tank in the trunk which would gravity feed into my regular tank. That totaled 20 gallons at 50 MPG - a thousand mile range! Let's see you to that with an electric car. Till this day I still have an old 2006 year old VW Jetta Wagon with the old 1.9 litter engine. You may ask why. Well storing diesel is a lot saver than storing gas, and the diesel is the same No.2 oil as is home heating oil. I presume you can see where I'm coming from. Sadly as of 2020 there are no new Diesel cars of any kind being imported since VW rigged the MPG numbers. 

As for other prep, I have a metal tool box and file cabinet (faraday cages) that I keep a CB Radio, VHF Marine Walkie Talkie, One of those emergency hand-crank-to-charge AM/FM radios with spot light, batteries and small geiger counter (from my prospecting days). Oh yes, a couple each; bicycles, fishing rods, rifles and hand guns too. In 2020 I purchased a YAESU FT-991A all frequency Ham Radio. It can run off a car battery. Theoretically you would need to be licensed in normal times. It does however need some technical knowledge and antennas.

As for emergency food stuffs we always have a couple weeks supplies of canned chicken, tuna, chili, corned beef hash etc and a box of  the Wise Company Dehydrated Foods", etc etc.

We have a basement, natural gas, a septic tank and our town has a water tower. Still in use (?) is our copper wire phone line. I’m tempted to buy a portable R/O filter for turning sea water (or any dirty water) into fresh H2O. Lastly, we live very near Lake Ontario with its good fishing. The town is a small farming community with God fearing folks. It has a couple good bars which would act as it’s gathering point. The only negative is it's winters which is why we have a backup wood burning stove and propagne grill should the natural gas stop flowing.

This scenario is no doubt frightening, and if you are like myself, you figure you wont be here when, and if an event as outlined, takes place. Maybe you figure, you wouldn't be inconvenienced too much by the first type, the lowest level of disruption by hacking, which no doubt the Government would come to our rescue and will fix - right?

When and what ever happens, figure on it happening before the effects of global warming become threatening, what ever they may be.