All week I have been flooded with reports that the official cause of the 2003 electrical blackout was not, as reported, untrimmed trees and overheated transmission lines. The largest blackout in US history, more than 9,300 square miles, may have been caused by Chinese hackers gaining access to networks controlling the electrical grid. US intelligence officials have advised the Cyber Security Industry Alliance that forensic evidence suggests the PLA (Peoples’ Liberation Army) was behind the blackout.

The planet as a whole suffered multiple electrical blackouts last week from Belize to Iran and Nicaragua to South Africa. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the UK lost electricity when nine power plants stopped working. Many of these outages are a result of fuel shortages and may have nothing to do with cyber hackers but all were exacerbated by the centralized grid system. In the case of the UK power outage, one plant, a nuclear reactor by the way, in the centralized electrical grid failed taking eight more down with it.

As yet, there is no suggestion that the UK outage had anything to do with network intrusion and the privatized utilities are mum on the cause stating disclosure might raise wholesale energy prices. There is strong evidence that a Chinese PLA hacker, attempting to map the Florida Power & Light network brought about the Florida blackout in February. These events are all strong national security arguments in favor of decentralized power generation.

Also, this week, I was sent photographs of the largest operating container ship in the world, the Emma Maersk. The Emma Maersk with its 207’ beam and cargo capacity of more than 14,000 containers chock full of televisions, tires, toys and appliances can traverse the Pacific in four days. This fast transit and refrigerated containers allow the ship to bring perishables, seafood and exotic fruits, as well as trinkets from China.

Emma MaerskAs the Emma Maersk and other containerized cargo ships off load in Seattle or Long Beach or San Francisco and return to China, they ride much higher in the water. The US has nothing to trade in return and the containers go back empty and our dollars and our independence go with them.

Outsourcing jobs to other countries has made the US dependent upon more than foreign oil. We have become dependent upon centralized cheap labor to satisfy our thirst for plasma televisions and cell phones and even food to the detriment of our own economy. Even worse, we then turn around and borrow back the money we export so eagerly to countries like China in order to finance our occupation of Iraq and corporate tax cuts.

The best way to shore up our local economy is to keep our dollars local. The best national security policy is to decentralize energy production, manufacturing and food production. Microgrids would be impervious to cyber attacks and we have plenty of clean wood waste locally to fuel combined heat and power generators that capture carbon emissions. Producing power locally means we have more dollars to reinvest in local infrastructure and to provide for social services.

Growing and eating local food is healthier and helps farmers here rather than factory farms in Asia. Frequently, I receive solicitations from foreign manufacturing firms to submit proposals on producing my wind turbine. My closest like kind competitor manufactures in Guadalajara for a fraction of our anticipated cost but we believe investing in the community and providing living wage jobs has long term benefits that exceed short term profits.

Nationally, the policy continues to support transferring our independence and security to countries like China. Here in Coos County the effects of US trade policies have been felt since the early ‘80s and the people have struggled and survived but just barely. It is time to dig in and convert our local assets into a healthy economy and stop importing, food, goods and energy and decentralize now, our independence depends upon it.