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The end of civilization ?

July 29, 2014

Bill was thinking how lucky he was as he sat quietly on his porch and watched his dogs playing in the yard. Like a king standing on a homer endmountain watching the multitudes scramble as the world ended, Bill was witness to his countrymen destroy each other over basic necessities. What started years ago as a feeling of dissatisfaction for his current environment and a plan for his future retirement, now paid dividends far greater then he could ever imagine. He had taken that first big step and retired to a world far removed from what he had know all his life. And now he was smiling as he realized that first step had probably saved his life.

In July 2012 the sun let loose a major mass ejection of ionized particles and it headed straight for earth. To earth’s fortune it missed by barely a day, but other than a few sensationalist newspapers no one really took notice. So please explain to me why is it that a hurricane, mudslide, tornado or other act of nature makes the headlines and ties up the network news channels for days, and this near miss to the end of civilization go virtually unnoticed? Could it be that at the present time we have absolutely no way to stop this end of the world event, and our government’s leaders did not want this pointed out?

I keep repeating the statement ‘end of civilization’ and by that I mean an almost total global shut down of all electrical power, caused by a direct hit from a solar event of this proportion. When you take the time to realize that right now there is very little we do that is not effected by a shut down in electricity you start to see what this means to you. From the pumps that run to give us our drinking water to the banks that hold our money and store account information on computers to the fuel that is pumped into our vehicles right down to the cell phone towers, everything we use today is at some point or other dependent on the electricity being on!

Bill had decided long ago he wanted more from life than chasing the almighty dollar so when he was financially secure he started to look for a new life and a new home. Like most when he visited Alaska he probably thought what a truly beautiful place but with winters that extreme who would would live here. However after a few visits to Alaska and spending a number of weeks getting to know its people he decided this was where he would spend the rest of his days.

One of the first things Bill learned is that most of the people of Alaska are very self sufficient, even those living near the few big towns. This was promulgated mostly because at times during the year you may be unable to leave your home because of the weather and at other times you may have no electricity, phone or television. Getting stuck during a three or four day snow or ice storm one learns to have some extra food and water on hand. Some locals have even taken the next step and have obtained a radio operators license so they can always communicate with others when cell service goes down.

And though not every household has a generator in their garage 3 out of 10 Alaskans do have one or more within reach when the power does go out. Add to that it is not uncommon to find many homes with a room devoted to food storage and you have the makings of what outsiders call ‘Preppers’. Though many in Alaska do not consider themselves survivalists they indeed live like one. This ethos has now become part of Bill’s everyday lifestyle, and today he was very glad it had.

Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado says…
“If it had hit, the power of this event would have raced across space to knock us back to the dark ages
and we would still be picking up the pieces two years later.”

sun burps

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2014 9:21 pm

    Nice one, Pete. I’ll only double your rent instead of tripling it. :)

    Like

  2. July 30, 2014 6:59 am

    Hey Pete – Loved this posting and not just ’cause it paints me in such a positive light! You are so dead on regarding that indelibly imbued sense of self sufficiency that is common to virtually all Alaskans. It is one of those characteristics I observed upon my first backpacking trip back in ’96 and have admired ever since that time along with their fierce sense of freedom and their willingness to always assist others. Alaskans understand that Nature is beauty fraught with potential peril; that there is little forgiving about a -30 F air temp with even just a 10 mph wind and that the local wildlife is there to enjoy but not to be pets. But they also understand how to live ‘with’ Nature rather than harboring any fallacies about controlling or dominating her. I find it fitting that the average Alaskan has so much more awareness of conservation and doesn’t just talk about this concept but lives it on a daily basis than all those zealots in the lower 48 who preach that ‘green’ nonsense. In just seven days I’ll celebrate completing my first year living north of latitude 62 degrees and while I’ve learned so much regarding life in semi-rural south central Alaska I also know I have so much more yet to learn. I’m finding the best way to do so is to keep my mouth shut, listen to the locals as they talk about events and ‘situations’, ask pertinent questions and largely just observe the local lifestyle.

    Your thoughts about that solar event which literally did just miss us by a bit less than 24 hours is something unknown to the masses. When I read of this occurrence a while back I could feel a chill as being caught in such a solar barrage is just a matter of probability. Sadly this country might well experience something similar but of man made origin in the form of a high altitude EMP attack even before the sun finally hits us. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that both North Korea and Iran are feverishly working to that end should just go back to watching ‘Dancing With The Stars’ or ‘The Daily Show’ while they still can because it is coming. We up here might well escape the initial effects of such an attack but our current level of ‘civilization’ is tied to the lower 48 so even if our electrical and electronic infrastructure survived we would feel the aftermath. But because Alaskans are so self sufficient we’re in a position to far better weather such a catastrophe. Most folks with half a brain have recognized that if you effectively burn out all things electrical civilization as we know it would last for approximately four to seven days; that’s the time most people would take to exhaust their on-hand food and start to ransack the local stores and warehouses. But even large groceries and warehouses carry maybe four days stock of perishable goods and perhaps two weeks worth of ‘shelf stable’ supplies. Within two weeks the cities would be cauldrons of boiling lawlessness as the American people tasted their first real starvation with no relief in sight. From this point it’s a death spiral; very few in the lower 48 have the knowledge let alone the skills to survive ‘off the grid’ and that’s what life in the lower 48 would require after just three weeks of no electricity, limited to no travel and a total break down of basic services. The coup de grace could come in the form of the attackers releasing a filo-virus like Ebola in a major city like New York; with no health care in place the results would make what’s happening in Africa right now look like child’s play. I don’t enjoy contemplating such scenarios but I do believe in the adage that ‘forewarned is forearmed’; because of this I do have three weeks of basic food supplies on hand, weapons and gear to help me eek out an existence when the power dies. Here it could just be MEA struggling for a day or two with downed lines in a blizzard but just as easily it could be something much more sinister and permanent…

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  3. July 30, 2014 10:23 am

    Thanks for the post. Wide-scale EMP, whether natural or man-made is a civilization killer, and the grid is sorely lacking in shielding and/or spare parts to un-fry it after an event. Government and energy companies have the projections and plans to upgrade, but have only upgraded some military systems. “Be prepared” is always a good motto, just like the Boy Scouts. Say hello to Bill when you see him. We used to work together.

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