I see a different world than you do, and it frightens me. In my world, an EMP is a black swan event that could kill some 300 million Americans. Despite being more concrete, imminent, and deadly than alleged climate change, this threat is ignored by reporters and politicians alike. Why?
A few outlets acknowledge the issue: The federal EMP Commission, formed in 2004, has issued dire reports; WND journalists articulate the threat; former CIA director James Woolsey tirelessly warns us; and former Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., along with former Speaker Newt Gingrich, courageously warn within government. Meanwhile, weapons manufacturers, such as Boeing, are testing and optimizing the delivery of an EMP strike.
Yet no one is alarmed. Our local, state and federal governments remain mute, while corporate America myopically focuses on short-term earnings that simply do not matter if an EMP intervenes. So my question remains: Is everyone in denial, do they misunderstand the stakes, does the entire nation suffer from normalcy bias?
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How might an EMP happen? A small nation or a terrorist could detonate a nuclear weapon(s) in our atmosphere; a sophisticated enemy (Russia or China) could deploy their super EMP weaponry; or a solar storm could generate a coronal mass ejection, which would imitate parts of an EMP pulse. While technical aspects of each type of pulse differ, the results are effectively the same: All but 10 percent of the affected population would perish within two years.
Why are we vulnerable? Consider this: We are a society addicted to electrons. Without them our lives do not function. Ask yourself how your day went the last time the electricity went out. I am sure it changed radically, despite your best intentions. Now imagine that the lights and everything else powered by electricity goes out, permanently, across the entire country. This is an EMP's might. In the simplest of terms, it destroys the electrical grid. More specifically, the gamma rays emitted in the first instant of an atmospheric nuclear blast (i.e., the E1 pulse) are capable of destroying the semiconductor-based electronics that underpin every link in every modern-day supply chain. In the case of a solar storm (technically a "coronal mass ejection," or CME), the rapidly changing electrical and magnetic fields that are generated approximate the slower-moving E3 pulse of a nuclear blast, which shuts down power grids wherever it impacts.
Hundreds of millions in America and tens of millions elsewhere would be doomed, as the miracle of modern American society and productivity would grind to a halt. Gone would be the modern agricultural practices, the incredible just-in-time supply chain, modern medical practices, the banking and financial industries and all your digital wealth. Erased in a blink.
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How would it play out?
- The smell, the shock. The first sign you are facing more than just a power outage would be that difficult-to-describe, pungent, oily, burnt-technical smell that emanates from fried electronic devices. That sickly smell would be the harbinger of death.
- Planes dropping form the sky. On most days, roughly 3,000 commercial airliners fly the skies over North America at any given moment. On average, each aircraft contains 100 passengers, some many more. Most modern-day airliners incorporate fly-by-wire technology, meaning the traditional mechanical linkages that move the flight control surfaces have been superseded by precise electronic inputs from computers. During an EMP, these computers will fail, downing every commercial aircraft, as well as private aircraft using the same technology, killing an estimated 400,000.
- Medical treatment unavailable. Roughly 30 million people who have chronic medical conditions needing consistent administration of medications and treatment will perish within two weeks of an EMP, depending on stockpiles. This number does not include the country's 29 million diabetics, 10 million of whom have Type 1 diabetes and need insulin. Once their insulin supply is exhausted, these people will perish as well, bringing the medical related death toll closer to 40 or so million.
- Electrical grid and generator shutdown. Many elements within the power grid are vulnerable to an EMP, including among other things the computer and switch controls, the line insulators and the distribution transformers – any of which would take years to replace due to lack of parts, labor, transportation and equipment. Similarly, without continuity of fuel supply (coal, natural gas, gasoline, diesel, propane, etc.), no power plant or personal generator can operate.
- Nuclear power plant meltdowns. While no one is certain how an EMP would impact the operation of our nation's 104 nuclear power plants, the consensus is that there might well be multiple meltdowns, compounding the growing human toll.
- Malnutrition, exposure, starvation and medical complications. In the 24 months following an EMP, a combination of exposure, starvation and medical complications will propel a rising death toll. Without antibiotics, even a small but infected abrasion can turn fatal. Without electricity and a clean water supply, sanitation deteriorates. In the absence of stocked grocery store shelves (stripped bare within hours of an EMP), food acquisition and preparation become dominant concerns. Competition for resources would quickly become deadly.
- No manufacturing. An EMP would destroy our manufacturing base, incapacitating the hundreds of millions of programmable logic controllers (PLCs) used in manufacturing facilities across the country.
- No supply chain. UPS, FedEx, U.S. Postal Service, Walmart, Amazon and others, entirely reliant on computers and related electronic communications, would be snuffed out and the nation's 2 million semi-tractor trailers used daily to deliver goods grounded.
- Modern agriculture impossible. The family farm has been replaced by a highly specialized agricultural industry completely dependent on regular deliveries of diesel fuel, fertilizer, seeds and a myriad of other items to support crops and livestock. Most modern tractors and other equipment incorporate EMP-vulnerable electronics at all levels.
- Violence, no security. Predictable rational human behavior evaporates if people cannot be fed, bathed, clothed and reasonably sheltered. Desperate people will do desperate things, and calls for help may go unanswered. Sexual assault will be a reality.
- Communications impossible. Post-EMP, there will be no Internet, television, satellite, radio, phones, cell phones, fax, telegraph, or other form of commercial communication – except at the service of a small number of people who prepared beforehand.
- No means of exchange. An EMP would destroy digital wealth and records in short order, as there would be no functioning bank, brokerage firm, stock exchange, government records, nothing. Confidence in the U.S. dollar would plummet and currency would be worthless. Barter will be the only means of exchange.
- Transportation impossible. Some have suggested that they will drive (or fly) out of an EMP-targeted area. Good luck with that. Most modern automobiles, planes and trains are nothing more than mobile computers. Even if a vehicle operates after an EMP, fuel will be scarce, and thieves will abound.
In sum, if a strategically placed EMP of sufficient magnitude is triggered, you and your loved ones would be thrust into the mid-17th century without the toughness, knowledge, tools, or skills needed to operate and survive under such conditions. Without electricity, running water, treated water, sanitation (sewage treatment), communications, credit cards, ATMs, Internet, or useful transportation, shock would ensue, and the will to live would be challenged. Any ability to expeditiously recover the "grid" would have evaporated. Modern life, civil society and the rule of law would likewise be casualties of the EMP. So why is no one (comparatively speaking) addressing a threat this grave?
Various military personnel have identified EMP risks since well before the Starfish Prime test in 1962, yet neither government nor military is prepared to help you. To dispel any notion that government might be proactive on this threat, one has only to study its most recent lapse, the theft of millions of federal employee personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) by the Chinese Liberation Army (PLA). In terms analogous to the EMP threat, experts have long warned that the architecture protecting government computers was penetrable. Nothing was done, and the predicted disaster has struck in force: Chinese communists have captured reams of intimate financial, social and medical details disclosed by top U.S. intelligence agents and military personnel for the ironic purpose of … obtaining security clearances. Blackmail is sure to follow.
But I digress. Suffice to say, the EMP threat is real, it is scary, and government officials in America are doing nothing to protect you or me or the electrical grids supporting our modern way of life. Bereft of real leadership, our country has allowed a growing, ignorant, under-educated secular mob mentality to overtake our culture. Hardly a day goes by where another divisive issue does not emerge. Last week it was the Confederate flag; this week it is the American flag, as Rush Limbaugh so accurately predicted. If one believes in conspiracy theories, one could formulate a case that America, and in turn Americans, are being positioned to become the world's scapegoat for the Western democracies' default on their massive debts. While you might not agree with that assessment, surreal things are happening. I never thought I would live to see real Americans sign a petition to have the American flag retired. Or that an arm of our government could render laws and words meaningless, thus aiding and abetting government's complete lack of accountability to anyone or anything including civil defense. In the words of J.R. Nyquist:
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"… the Supreme Court has violated the English language; that is, the Court has assumed a power that no government authority may safely assume. It is the most arbitrary power imaginable; for the Supreme Court may now say that 'up' is 'down,' and 'black' is 'white.' We cannot tell what such a court will do next; for it is now certain that no property is safe, no contract protected. Anything may happen. We are no longer ruled by laws, for laws are made of words and now, as of this moment, words are made of nothing, having no intrinsic meaning."
Would any other country come to our aid in the event America was crippled by an EMP? Years ago I would have emphatically believed that many nations would line up to help. Today, however, I am not so sure.
The French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal posited "Pascal's Wager," which said that even if we cannot prove God's existence, we should live as though God does exist – because we have, comparatively, nothing to lose and everything to gain by doing so. In a world where EMP weapons – as well as biological and nuclear weapons – are deployed, and where we depend on distant supply chains for our daily sustenance, we created an analogous "Preparedness Wager," which says that, comparatively speaking, we have nothing to lose and everything to gain by making basic preparations for an insecure future. Although we have experienced security and prosperity in the past, we should live as if these will cease tomorrow.
Preparing to protect your family from an EMP is difficult, but not impossible. A haven is an important element in that solution, and I advise people in that regard every day. Before you panic, however, and set out on the expensive and involved road to constructing and equipping a haven, I recommend the use of social media to pound the living daylights out of your elected officials and to educate them on the risk an EMP poses to our nation. Your messaging should push for protecting the critical electrical grid and for re-establishing a real civil defense program capable of protecting the population from enemies both foreign and domestic. Then you can turn your attention to making your own Life Continuity plan capable of protecting your loved ones from the devastation of an EMP blast. It is not too late, but some day soon it might be.
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For those that wish to learn more about EMPs, I recommend the following books: One Second After," by William Forstchen; "Electric Armageddon: Civil-Military Preparedness for Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe," by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry; "Apocalypse Unknown: The Struggle to Protect America From An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe," by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry; "A Nation Forsaken: EMP: The Escalating Threat of an American Catastrophe," by Michael Maloof; and "Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): Threat to Critical Infrastructure," by the Subcommittee on Cyber-security, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies of the Committee on Homeland Security House of Representatives.