By Amoryl Lovins, L. Hunter
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Additional resources for Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security
Physical barriers, of course, are not an absolute bar to physical penetration by stealth or force. The physical vulnerability of some control systems, like the control room of a nuclear reactor, may suggest a need for a duplicate control room, located away from the reactor, to be used if the first one is taken over. ) But such duplication also increases vulnerability to capture, or simply to interception and misuse of the communications channels, as in computer and telephone networks today. 38 In this game of threat and countermeasure, problems simply cascade.
For oil, trucks provide the greatest ability to expand, provided there are enough trucks and open roads; railways and waterways are intermediate in flexibility, since they have fixed trunk routes but can move equipment along them to where it is most needed (and, in the case of railways, can add spur lines). Oil pipelines are the least flexible, having fixed routes and—barring major modifications—fixed maximum capacities. Most pipelines, however, can reduce their throughput over a substantial range with little penalty save in profits.
1 “Mechanical collection,” however, is what most vulnerability studies do. At best, they assess energy vulnerability (for example) for stringing together the individual vulnerabilities of fuel sources, processing plants, storage and transmission and distribution facilities, and so forth. But considering the energy system as a mere collection of components, without considering how they must be bound together to work as a whole, ignores the crux of the problem: interactions, combinations, feedback loops, higher-order consequences, and links across the system boundary.
Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security by Amoryl Lovins, L. Hunter