The royal families of Mesopotamia were afraid of the dark. Two-thousand years before Christ, the prophets of that civilization warned that solar eclipses foretold political assassination.
Superstitious but clever, Mesopotamian kings would cheat death by abdicating the throne to a condemned criminal. After the eclipse, according to cuneiform tablets, the royal would return, kill the convict, and reassume his reign. It was simple.
But when the moon throws shade and the sun vanishes this Monday, solar magistrates won't follow the example of the Mesopotamians.
Ironically, darkness doesn't really hurt energy production.
While the total eclipse will block out the sun from Lincoln Beach, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., it will obscure sunlight over hundreds of solar photovoltaic power plants. But the Energy Information Administration "does not anticipate the eclipse will create reliability issues for the bulk power system."
The reason is two-fold. First, and as the EIA explains, because "relatively little solar PV capacity lies in the path" of the eclipse. And second because harnessing the sun is a terrible, no good way to generate electrical power in a country with an advanced economy and varied geography like the United States.
Imagine for a moment that an apocalypto eclipse blots out the sun over the continental United States.
There would be no blackouts. Coal would still burn, wind turbines would still turn, and electricity would still flow. At least in the short-term, losing solar would barely make the lights flicker.