World War D

Dow down hard – 231 points. Gold flat.

So what’s behind the big drop in equities? China? Crimea? Who knows?

Meanwhile, our friends over at Agora Financial gave us a fright. They pointed to an article in the Wall Street Journal. A few low-tech saboteurs, says the report, could put the whole nation in the dark for 18 months!

They went on to suggest that there might be an even bigger danger: cyber-attacks. “World War D” (D for digital) they call it.

In our mind, this created a whole demolition derby of disturbing ideas. We had a taste of power-outage this winter, when we were staying at a hotel here in Aiken. The first day was a happy adventure. The second day, with plenty of food, water and alcohol still available, was long. We didn’t have to suffer a third day; the power went back on.

Without power, you can’t pump water. And you can’t get gasoline. Without gasoline you can’t go anywhere. You can’t even run a generator. Your beer is warm and your bath is cold. You’re out of luck. How do you get food? And is there any food to get? Without refrigeration how much of the nation’s food simply rots and spoils?

This will not be a problem for us down in Argentina (where we are headed). We don’t have any power down there anyway. Water comes down from the snow-covered mountaintops. And the evening meal wanders around the prairies, on four legs, until dinner time.

Of course, we’re not worried for ourselves, we’re worried for our dear readers!

Even if the federales were smart enough to protect the power grid from saboteurs – which we very much doubt – can they protect it from the sun? Yes, one of our dearest readers has turned up the heat, upped the ante, and made us worry even more.

Bill Bonner on markets, economics & the madness of crowds

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She sent us a report from Mr G Edward Griffin, who tells us that solar activity is the real cause of global temperature changes, and that the sun’s hissy fits will blow out so many fuses all over the power system, that we could be without power, well, for a long time.

As to the first provocative point, he cites a book by Lawrence Joseph: Solar Storms; How the Sun Shaped The Past. The gist of the argument is that solar activity causes big swings in the earth’s temperature. Al Gore and the global warming crew are wrong, he says. And their computer program is defective:

In the world of statistical analysis, there is a standard routine called the Monte Carlo Test that uses random data with no trends whatsoever to confirm that a computer model has no built-in errors or biases. If all is well, the Monte Carlo Test will produce zero trends.

When the global warming computer model was tested, he says:

… out popped a hockey-stick graph just like the one for global temperatures. Conclusion: The computer model was rigged.

Maybe he is right. Maybe he isn’t. But it was what Griffin says next that caused us angst:

The electronic infrastructure of the modern world is a new phenomenon in history. It hasn’t yet been tested by large-scale solar storms, which have occurred as recently as a hundred years ago. The grid didn’t exist at that time but, if it had, engineers say it would not have survived. When the next one will arrive is unknown, but one thing is certain: we are not ready for it. Unless steps are taken to protect transformers and control systems, the grid WILL be knocked out by the next large-scale storm.

What will we do if the juice goes out? Don’t know. But we’re stocking the wine cellar.

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  • Nigel222

    If a huge solar storm like the Victorian “Carrington event” had happened in the 1920s or 1070s it would have knocked out the grid as described. Today, things are actually more hopuful.

    Firstly, we now have solar observation satellites that would give advance warning. The plan is a controlled grid shutdown, to avoid a grid meltdown. 24 hours later the solar storm would be over and the grid could be reconnected. 24-hour regional outages have happened for other reasons, and it’s not catastrophic to civilisation. The only doubt is whether people would do the right things in time.

    Secondly we are moving from long-distance AC transmission to long-distance DC transmission. It’s more efficient but needs 21st century tech. DC is also immune to the effects of solar storms. If we get through the next few decades, there won’t be any long-distance AC left to be disrupted.

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