What is an EMP?
Before we can discuss the likelihood of an EMP attack, we first need to define exactly what an electromagnetic pulse is and how it would affect our daily lives. If you missed our EMP Protection article from last week, an EMP is a sudden burst of electromagnetic radiation generated either by a large nuclear explosion detonated in our atmosphere or from a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun (think super solar flare) which would result in a sudden spike in voltage in all electric circuits within its range. Also, because this phenomena is caused by a principle called “induction” which causes the components that make up such circuits to suddenly heat well beyond their designed tolerance range, it is capable of instantly destroying any non-shielded electronic circuit.
How likely is it that the U.S.?
So, now that we know what an EMP is, how likely is it that the U.S. would experience an EMP attack?
Well, although there are no reliable statistics on this topic, the answer to that question is probably “quite likely” due to the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons among such countries as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea which are all declared enemies of the U.S. However, neither the concept nor the threat of an EMP attack are new and, in fact, the first true test of the effects of a High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) occurred in 1962 when the U.S. military conducted a test designated “Starfish Prime” in which a 1.44 megaton nuclear device was detonated approximately 250 miles above the Earth’s surface over the Pacific Ocean which resulted in the failure of electrical circuits as far away as Hawaii some 889 miles away!
The second test was carried out by the Soviet Union that same year when they detonated a 300 kiloton nuclear device in the atmosphere above Kazakhstan which reportedly resulted in even greater devastation of electrical circuits due to the land mass below it that resulted in significantly stronger electromagnetic fields than the U.S. test over the Pacific Ocean even though the Russian test incorporated a much smaller bomb. In fact, according to U.S. scientists within the government, a large nuclear device detonated roughly 300 miles above the state of Kansas could very well result in an EMP large enough to span the entire length and breadth of the continental United States!!!
How would an EMP affect you?
The next logical question is “how would an EMP attack on the U.S. affect its citizens?”. Well, there again, there are no reliable statistics on the widespread devastation that such an attack would cause but, with a little imagination, it is not difficult to project that an abrupt, massive, loss of life would occur due to the sudden failure of the electronics we depend on so heavily. For instance, any airplanes in the air at the time would likely cease to function along with all motor vehicles on the road; not to mention the vast number of people in hospitals who depend on electronics in one form or another to sustain their lives.
In addition, it is extremely likely the national power grid would fail as well as the generators in power plants, their control circuits, and transformers throughout the entire system suddenly overload; causing catastrophic failures. In addition, both wind farms and solar farms would also be affected in the same way due to the failure of their generators and control circuits. Therefore, people would suddenly lose the ability to preserve both refrigerated and frozen foods which would limit the available food sources to fresh foods and dried or canned goods.
Due to the failure of both motor vehicles and the lack of electricity needed to extract the fuel necessary to operate them from underground storage tanks, the national supply chain which depends on both railways and the trucking industry would suddenly come to a screeching halt and thus, people would be limited to food sources that could be obtained from local farmers or grown in either private or community gardens. In addition, the availability of fresh, clean, drinking water would suddenly become scarce due to the failure of municipal services and the lack of electricity to operate pumps to extract water from rural wells.
In the event of an EMP attack, most people would suddenly find themselves without sufficient food or water and would lack the means of obtaining it due to the lack of transportation. In addition, they would also lack the electricity and fuel necessary to operate machinery and to provide light and/or heat for their homes which would likely result in further massive loss of life. Thus, with declared enemies both to the East and the West with the capability of launching such an attack, U.S. citizens should seriously consider preparing for the occurrence of such an event.