Vernuccio’s View: The Imminent EMP Threat

Even as North Korea moves closer to the ability to launch an ICBM against the American homeland, there is a tendency to underestimate the catastrophic effects even a single nuclear warhead could produce.
Just one atomic bomb, exploded at the right altitude, can produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that would destroy all electrical and computer systems throughout the nation.

 

Credit: overpassesforamerica.com

Credit: overpassesforamerica.com

The effects would be calamitous. Without power, and without the means to move people and goods (an EMP would also render all trains, planes, and automobiles useless, since all those modes of transportation rely on both electronics and computer systems) or the means to pump water, the vast majority of Americans, estimates indicate approximately 90%, would die of starvation and thirst within a relatively short period of time. Those dependent on the miracles of modern medicine, including pacemakers and other devices, would face an even quicker death. It would take decades to replace the destroyed power structure.
The federal EMP Commission warns that “The high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a small number of threats that has the potential to hold our society seriously at risk and might result in defeat of our military forces… What is different now is that some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter—they can be terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or a few weapons, and are motivated to attack the US without regard for their own safety. …Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas, and designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.”

 

DailyMail.com

Graphic credit: DailyMail.com

Incredibly, despite the fact that it would take less than $10 billion to protect the power grid, the Obama Administration has chosen not to move ahead with the project. That figure would have been just a small fraction of the President $800 billion stimulus package, much of which was essentially wasted because he alleged that he couldn’t find “shovel ready jobs.”
America’s adversaries have given this type of assault serious thought. Gatestone reports: “In 1999…at a high level meeting in Vienna of a Congressional delegation with senior members of the Russian government, Vladimir Lukin, the chairman of the Duma’s Foreign Affairs Committee, angry with American policy in the Balkans, issued the following threat: ‘If we really wanted to hurt you with no fear of retaliation, we would launch a Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), [and] we would detonate a nuclear weapon high above your country and shut down your power grid.”

 

Solar flare eruption. Credit: nasa.gov

 

 

 

 

Solar Storms and the Earth’s Protective Shield – Laura Roberts Artal

Solar Storms and the Earth’s Protective Shield – Laura Roberts Artal

 

 

 

 

 

While defense policy is always fraught with contentious politics, the need to protect the nation from EMP could arise from a natural occurrence—and one that may occur soon. National Geographic notes that during 1859, the Sun was in a “solar maximum” phase similar to one it is presently entering. “That storm has been dubbed the Carrington Event, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth…In addition, the geomagnetic disturbances were strong enough that U.S. telegraph operators reported sparks leaping from their equipment—some bad enough to set fires, said Ed Cliver, a space physicist at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Bedford, Massachusetts. In 1859, such reports were mostly curiosities. But if something similar happened today, the world’s high-tech infrastructure could grind to a halt.’What’s at stake,’ the Space Weather Prediction Center’s Bogdan said, ‘are the advanced technologies that underlie virtually every aspect of our lives.”
Astronomers believe that a similar solar megaflare is already overdue.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-choef of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.

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