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"If key infrastructures are not hardened, the next such flare could have world-wide, catastrophic impact."

I wonder what 'hardened' means?
Does it mean encasing the electronic switchgear in some pulse-resistant material to prevent the solar flares reaching them?
Does it mean Jim and Arthur from the repair department on double-overtime and twenty-four standby to switch the grid manually?
Any ideas?
In recent years vital national infrastructures have evolved toward increasing automation, dependant on complex computer control networks, and fully integrated with the electric grid.  This process occurred remarkably quickly, and little has yet been done to address vulnerability to potentially catastrophic risks.  Based on new information about the scope of severe natural threats and new concerns about vulnerability to potential malicious threats, it has become increasingly clear that addressing these issues will be essential to the continued health and viability of our nations.
Two issues have become a focus of concern.  Based on a recent U.S. National Academy of Sciences study, severe, century-class solar flares have occurred regularly in the past, and will continue in the future.  If key infrastructures are not hardened, the next such flare could have world-wide, catastrophic impact.  The potential for malicious EMP attack could result in similar, nationwide or even continent-scale destruction.  Both effects can be substantially mitigated by electric grid changes.
With this background, Rt. Hon. James Arbuthnot MP, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, House of Commons, U.K., is chairing the inaugural meeting of the new Electric Infrastructure Security Summit (EISS).  U.K. Secretary of State for Defence Dr. Liam Fox will be a keynote speaker at the invitation-only meeting, which will include energy ministers, senior members of parliament and administration officials from more than twenty nations, along with scientists and policy makers.  The summit is expected to define an international framework for discussion and cooperation.  It will be followed by a 2nd, follow-on summit now in planning for Washington D.C., in 2011.
Read more at www.eissummit.com

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LONDON — Is British business fretting about the risks of the country drifting out of the European Union? Or does it crave a looser relationship with Continental allies, one free from meddlesome regulation?
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