Imagine what would happen if the power went out at the world’s busiest airport. Imagine how much chaos that would cause, and imagine how much confusion there would be, at least at first, regarding the source of the power outage. As it just so happens, you don’t have to imagine such a scenario at all; it happened in real life just days ago in Atlanta.
According to an official statement released on Sunday, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport sustained a power outrage right around 1:00 in the afternoon, the cause of which still remains under investigation. “The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a ground stop for flights headed to ATL at this time, and many flights inbound to Atlanta are being diverted. A ground stop means that flights headed to Atlanta are held on the ground at their departure airport,” the statement read.
Video footage of the situation reveals exactly what you’d expect to see at an airport that experiences a power outage: massive crowds of confused and angry people. One video even showed a terminal starting to fill with smoke, and an employee giving out commands in an attempt to maintain as much order as possible. Reports have since indicated that the smoke came from a routine training exercise, but the source of the power outage is still a mystery.
But as chaotic as the situation at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport was, and as frustrated and confused as travelers became, this power outage pales in comparison to what would happen if the entire country’s electrical grid were to one day collapse as a result of an EMP attack, cyber warfare, or some other external force. Imagine not having access to functioning freezers and refrigerators, making proper food storage, especially in the hotter southern states, nearly impossible. No power would also mean no way to heat our homes other than by way of the fireplace, no way to wash our clothes other than by way of a natural water source, and obviously, no lights to see in the dark.
And it gets even worse than that. With the electrical grids down, no one would be able to withdraw money from ATM machines and banks would be forced to close. Wall Street would no longer be able to function, and total economic collapse would be inevitable. This would essentially create a free-for-all environment in the United States, where people would loot, murder, and do just about anything else in order to survive. It would be utter chaos, especially for those who were unprepared from the start. (Related: U.S. power grid continues to be vulnerable to cyber attack, which would cause millions of innocent people to die.)
Thankfully, President Trump seems to be taking the threat of a nationwide collapse very seriously. Back in May, the Washington Free Beacon reported that our commander-in-chief has instructed the federal government to do whatever it takes to prepare for a potential cyber attack against America’s electric grid. The order came amid growing fears among the American people that a foreign attack would plunge the United States into darkness, and just two days after the commander of Cyber Command warned that America remains vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“Infiltrations in U.S. critical infrastructure—when viewed in the light of incidents like these—can look like preparations for future attacks that could be intended to harm Americans, or at least to deter the United States and other countries from protecting and defending our vital interests,” said Cyber command chief Adm. Mike Rogers, referring to an attempt by the Iranians to disrupt a dam in upstate New York back in 2013.
While the power outage that occurred in Atlanta last week was bad, all Americans should hope that it never happens on a national scale. If that happens, and our country is not prepared, then we are all in serious trouble.