Ted Koppel, who folks should remember as the anchor of ABC’s Nightline television show, has just written a book titled Lights Out. In a recent article I read, Koppel, now 75 years old, said he was inspired to write the book, which deals with the risks and consequences of a cyberattack on the nation’s power grid, after reading an article on what had been a major power outage. Koppel said he realized that a cyberattack would be far worse than any of the natural disasters we experience every year, and that the government was not prepared for it. All of which got me to thinking.
With all the problems this country is currently having around the world, especially with ISIS and North Korea, we really do need to think of the consequences of such an attack. The shocking assault would paralyze this country, particularly its infrastructure. Imagine a skillful hacker from anywhere in the world knocking out electric power systems, banking, and even water systems. In a time when most people only carry a card instead of actual money, people without cash would be especially hurting; although being without electricity for what could be several weeks, or even months, would be the real problem because of a lack of refrigeration. Eventually, money, too, would be virtually worthless.
In the event of a full scaled attack on this nation, it would only be a matter of time before canned goods would be depleted and starvation would set in. In turn, that would lead to survival tactics most of us do not want to even think about. However, I will say that would certainly be a time to appreciate your second amendment rights to bear arms, because you would probably need them to, not only hoard off starving people, but also to go back to the 19th century ways of survival—hunting. With millions of people starving across the nation some weeks after the attack, I suspect we Logan Countians, like most rural West Virginians, would stand a better chance of making it than those people in congested areas, especially those persons living in large cities.
The inability to procure fuel for vehicles or anything else, would eventually lead to strands of people leaving the cities and heading our way; perhaps on foot. Lack of power, lack of water, lack of proper sewage disposal, and lack of food would create devastation. The computerized systems that now control all of these things in most of modern America would be useless following a cyberattack.
Although it’s quickly becoming a lost art, even in Logan County, there still are enough of us out there who have preserved foods by canning or drying certain meats and vegetables which would enable a longer survival time for us. And there still are enough of us who can recognize the wild plants that are edible, and which ones that are not. We may be a dying breed, but we are still around. It is our younger generation which needs to be learning these fading ways; for inoperable microwave ovens will be of little value in time of such a crisis.
Our hills and the water that always seems to flow from them could be the saving grace for us and all of our Appalachian neighbors. Unfortunately, our polluted rivers would only lead to cholera and probably grueling death as overcrowded hospitals would prove to be of little value. Of course, some of our mountain streams are no longer a healthy source of water either. As is nature’s way: only the strong would survive. And when one gives it any historical thought at all, we realize that survival is all that most of our Appalachian families are about.
From the very first rigorous mountaineers who ventured into these rugged and unknown lands seeking independence, and fending off Indian attacks in the process, only to farm what few bottom lands were available, to the logging outfits that struggled to cut and transport the best timber found anywhere in the world, to the thousands of coal miners who have risked limb and life daily to produce the coal that fired the steel mills and power plants during two world wars and other lesser encounters, to today’s Appalachian society that is just beginning to see the totality of a lack of coal mining: I uncompromisingly say — we simply are a hardy breed of survivors, who will always find a way to make it; always have, always will.
But thanks for visiting us for the first time in five years, Mr. President. By the way, a lack of mining and layoffs, or mining injuries, is NOT the cause of this state’s drug problems.
Dwight Williamson is a contributing writer and a former reporter for The Logan Banner. He currently serves as a Logan County Magistrate.