The .gov Starts to Address Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attacks

I’m sure the Left will decide that this is a disaster, or something. Finally, a presidential EMP order that may save American lives.

The Commission to Assess the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack, also known as the Congressional EMP Commission, has warned for nearly 20 years that a nuclear EMP attack, or natural EMP from a solar superstorm, could destroy our electronic civilization and kill millions.

For 20 years (or longer) politicians on both sides of the aisle have been ignoring the possibility of an EMP attack.

Such an attack would give countries that have only a small number of nuclear weapons the ability to cause widespread, long-lasting damage to critical national infrastructures, to the United States itself as a viable country, and to the survival of a majority of its population.”

I don’t believe that anything real will come of it. Protecting our infrastructure from EMP is possible but expensive, which is why no one wants to address it. Really, really expensive. Every car, every computer, cellphone, refrigerators, … the list of things that will be destroyed by an EMP is long.

Starting with. No running water. (Water pumps require electricity.) Which means no sanitation, because I doubt that 4% of the population knows what to do in primitive situations, and in cities it is probably even lower. No refrigeration. (Do you even have any canned foods on your kitchen shelves?) Meat and dairy will last a few days at most. No credit card or Apple/Android pay options. (Do you have any cash on hand?) No transportation means no food delivery to your local market. (How much food do you suppose they have on hand?) Pharmaceutical production stops. (Do you know how people died from what we consider today, to be minor injuries?) I’m sure you can play along at home.

Hollywood elites, in their ever-present desire to misinform the public, have decided that an EMP that kills cellphones isn’t too cinematic, so they say that “things will be down for 10 minutes, and then work again.” Too bad this isn’t how the universe works. Every piece of consumer electronics in range of an EMP will be turned into a paperweight or a boat anchor (depending on how big it is). Most of the electrical grid will also fail, until large components of that grid can be replaced. It won’t be good. So why are we doing NOTHING about it?

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EMP: The Potential Disaster That Gets Ignored

The subject of EMP isn't covered in the mainstream press very often. And while The Economist isn't exactly mass-market, it isn't fringe either. The disaster that could follow from a flash in the sky

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is an effect of nuclear weapons. Detonate a nuclear bomb high in the atmosphere (40 km or so) and the result of pumping large amounts of gamma rays into the ionosphere is an EMP. Other things can generate similar effects on varying scales.

ON MARCH 13th 1989 a surge of energy from the sun, from a “coronal mass ejection”, had a startling impact on Canada. Within 92 seconds, the resulting geomagnetic storm took down Quebec’s electricity grid for nine hours. It could have been worse. On July 23rd 2012 particles from a much larger solar ejection blew across the orbital path of Earth, missing it by days. Had it hit America, the resulting geomagnetic storm would have destroyed perhaps a quarter of high-voltage transformers, according to Storm Analysis Consultants in Duluth, Minnesota. Future geomagnetic storms are inevitable.

An EMP would have similar impacts.

High voltage transformers are not something you order from Amazon. They take time to build, they are not commodities, and there are very few people building them. Without them, you would have NO electric power – except what you are able to generate on your own.

No electricity means no heat in the winter, (bet your oil-burner uses electricity to run,) no refrigeration. ATMs, electronic cash registers, computers, and the internet all stop working. Electronics in vehicles stop working, as do fuel pumps at gas stations. Which means goods delivery – including food – stops. Water treatment and pumping stops. Elevators stop. And it isn’t just that computers and smart phones stop working for a time. They are toast, and won’t work again. Same for the electronics in your home thermostat, refrigerator, oven, car, solar-power charging system, etc.

The expense of installing surge-blockers and other EMP-proofing kit on America’s big transformers is debated. The EMP Commission’s report in 2008 reckoned $3.95bn or less would do it. Others advance higher figures. But a complete collapse of the grid could probably be prevented by protecting several hundred critical transformers for perhaps $1m each.

The costs of not doing it, versus the cost of doing something seem to be the sticking point. That and who would pay for it.

The article isn’t long and is worth a look.