No phones. No lights. No running water. What would you do if the whole country went dark and you didn’t know if or when the power would be coming back?
On Sunday night, National Geographic aired the documentary called, “American Blackout”, which was a fictional, and very cynical, portrayal of how Americans would respond if there was a prolonged power outage due to a cyberattack.
What would happen if America experienced a sustained power outage?
Americans, National Geographic opined, would quickly devolve to a looting, violent gang of thugs committing plenty of “gun violence” within 24 hours of a power outage. Digital Journal referred to the film as a “suspense/horror movie” yesterday.
Anthony M. Freed of tripwire pulled no punches. Freed referred to the National Geographic production as a “grossly inaccurate fictional account of needless panic and despair…“
The film was released weeks before GridEX II, which is described by Matthew L. Wald of the New York Times as “….thousands of utility workers, business executives, National Guard officers, F.B.I. antiterrorism experts and officials from government agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico are preparing for an emergency drill in November that will simulate physical attacks and cyberattacks that could take down large sections of the power grid. They will practice for a crisis unlike anything the real grid has ever seen, and more than 150 companies and organizations have signed up to participate.”
Patrick J. Kiger of National Geographic describes some of the ways the electric grid is vulnerable, including an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, a solar flare, a grid failure, and a cyberattack.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that a
“cyber-attack perpetrated by nation states or extremist groups” could be “as destructive as the terrorist attack on 9/11.”
In late August, Mark Levine of ABC News reported that former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano said
“A massive and ‘serious’ cyber attack on the U.S. homeland is coming, and a natural disaster – the likes of which the nation has never seen – is also likely on its way.”
She also bashed Congress.
A May, 2013 report by Rep. Markey and Rep. Waxman found that “The electric grid is the target of numerous and daily cyber-attacks.” Not surprisingly, they chastised Congress for not providing a “governmental entity” to “ensure that the grid is protected from potential cyber-attacks and geomagnetic storms.”
Despite the common rhetoric lamenting a lack of funds by Congress to explore the danger, Americans can be assured that their tax-dollars are being spent profusely to examine the possibility of an attack on the nation’s power grid, as reported at Energy.gov.
While there seems to be an uncomfortable level of coordinated fear-mongering surrounding a potential attack on the nation’s power grid perpetrated by National Geographic, Americans would certainly be wise to connect with neighbors to devise a plan should there be an extended power outage.
Depending on the federal government to come to the rescue is not a plan.
American Blackout imagines the story of a national power failure in the United States caused by a cyberattack — told in real time, over 10 days, by those who kept filming on cameras and phones. You’ll learn what it means to be absolutely powerless. Gritty, visceral and totally immersive, see what it might take to survive from day one, and who would be left standing when the lights come back on.
WATCH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC “AMERICAN BLACKOUT”