Electrical and Computer Engineering Publications

Providing Non-food Needs if Industry is Disabled

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Proceedings of the 6th International Disaster and Risk Conference: Integrative Risk Management - Towards Resilient Cities, IDRC Davos 2016

First Page


Last Page



A number of risks could cause global electrical failure, including a series of high-altitude electromagnetic pulses (HEMPs) caused by nuclear weapons, an extreme solar storm, and a coordinated computer virus attack. Since modern industry depends on electricity, it is likely that much industry and machines would grind to a halt. The most challenging need to be met in these scenarios is likely to be food, and this is analyzed elsewhere in this conference. However, without industry, food cannot easily be shipped around the world, so one method to maintain the human population without electricity in an emergency is relocating people to the food sources. We find that this is possible even in the worst-case scenario by retrofitting ships to be wind powered. We also discuss solutions for non-industry inland transportation, water supply and treatment, and heating of buildings. We find that the nonfood needs could be met for nearly everyone in the short and medium term.

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