Allen Baler: A Review of Ted Koppel’s “Lights Out”

Allen Baler reviews Ted Koppel's Lights Out

While we speed full throttle ahead this election season, it’s plain to see how easily the media manipulates the American people. Journalism has ceased to be about reporting the facts and more about choosing populist narratives that attempt to sway public opinion.

We’ve heard vitriol spewing from both sides of the aisle, and the issues that seem to push people’s fear buttons have more to do with social mores and civil liberties than matters of true national security.

With respected journalist and former Nightline anchor Ted Koppel’s new book, “Lights Out: A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath,” perhaps the focus will once again be on matters that affect us all, regardless of outward labels. In the scenario of a successful cyber attack that plunders our grid and throws the country into darkness, the worry will be who survives, not who gets to use which bathroom.

Koppel paints a picture that is almost too frightening to comprehend – a total U.S. power grid failure that lasts not hours, but days, weeks, or even months, with millions of American lives hanging in the balance. Our completely unconscious dependence on electricity, paired with a learned helplessness and attitude that the “government will take care of any crisis” has set us up as a nation to not only be woefully unprepared, but completely without any kind of useful skills and coping mechanisms that our ancestors possessed in spades.

We are, as they say, a proverbial “sitting duck.”

Not long after the release of Koppel’s book, his prophetic words came to pass when a major power grid in Ukraine succumbed to the first ever successful cyber attack, leaving 230,000 people without power.

What is even more disturbing about this incident is the fact that security protocols for electrical substations in Ukraine are substantially more robust than here in the States. This means, if skilled and ruthless hackers can bring down a major chunk of Ukraine’s grid even with stringent cyber security measures in place, they most certainly can bring down part or all of our own crumbling grid with even less effort.

And let’s face it – the United States is not bereft of enemies that wish her harm. Even our trading partners harbor hostilities, and wouldn’t hesitate to exploit any possible way to compromise our superpower strength and status.

Even U.S. Central Command General Lloyd Austin admits, “It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”

Koppel goes further than just explaining the threat, however. In his bestselling book, he highlights the virtues of a “preparedness lifestyle” exhibited by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Mormons take the task of survival seriously, as demonstrated by their food storage, sustainability practices, and frugality. The methods revealed have pragmatic applications for the average American, as well, and can provide guidance when deciding on what are the best ways for any family to prepare for a time when supplies are scarce, and being a survivor isn’t reality TV, but a truly life or death decision.

For our own part, we’ve been marketing top of the line solar generators like our Patriot Power Generator for a few years now. We routinely sell out of inventory, because our customers are smart and are aware of the threats facing our nation – including threats to our vulnerable grid. Our Patriot Power Generator gives families a reliable source of backup power that is free and not dependent on the grid in any way.

While fear mongering may be looked at as an undesirable quality, awareness of a real threat is an entirely different matter. At 4Patriots, we seek to make our customers and potential customers aware of these threats, and then allow them the freedom to make their own decisions about what to do about them.

Regardless of public opinion to the contrary, just like Ted Koppel, we will continue to “sound the alarm” about things that the public needs to be made aware of for their own good. Dealing head on with issues as alarming as a downed power grid will never be popular, but if we can save one American from disaster through our efforts to educate and market useful products, it will all be worth it.