Sounding The Alarm On The Country’s Vulnerability To An EMP

Whether the source is a natural phenomenon, a terrorist attack or somehow an honest accident, it’s said 90% of the American population would perish from an EMP. When the power goes off nation-wide, food in grocery stores will spoil, hospital generators will only back everything up for so long and critical medicines will not be able to be produced. This doesn’t include those who pass away in the shock of it all or those killed during civil unrest while fighting over necessities. It would also take years to repair the damage as this would continue going on. It’s also said that America’s lights can be completely turned off from 9 critical substations alone (See also HERE).

 

In the past here at Peak Prosperity, we’ve written extensively on the threat posed by a sustained loss of electrical grid power. More specifically, we’ve warned that the most damaging threat to our grid would come from either a manmade or natural electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

A good friend of mine, Jen Bawden, is currently sitting on a committee of notable political, security and defense experts  — which includes past and present members of Congress, ambassadors, CIA directors, and others — who are equally concerned about this same threat and have recently sent a letter to Obama pleading for action to protect the US grid.

Before we get to that letter, here’s a snippet from what we wrote on the matter roughly a year ago:

For industrial and other heavy users, the impact of even a relatively short outage can be expensive or even ghastly. Hospitals and people on life-assisting machinery are especially vulnerable. Without power, aluminum smelters face the prospect of the molten ore solidifying in the channels from which it must be laboriously removed before operations can be restarted.

Many types of nuclear power plants have to switch to back-up diesel generators to keep the cooling pumps running. And if those stop for any reason (like they run out of fuel), well, Fukushima gave us a sense of how bad things can get.

And of course banking stops, ATMs are useless, and gas stations cannot pump gas. Just ask the people of New Jersey in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

A blackout of a few hours results in an inconvenience for everyone and something to talk about.

But one more than a day or two long? Things begin to get a bit tense; especially in cities, and doubly so if it happens in the hot mid-summer months.

Anything over a week and we start facing real, life-threatening issues. National Geographic ran a special presentation, American Blackout, in October 2013 — it presented a very good progression covering exactly what a timeline of serious grid disruption would look and feel like. I recommend the program for those interested.

We’re exploring this risk because there are a number of developments that could knock out the power grid for a week or more. They include a coronal mass ejection (CME), a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) device, a cascading grid failure, and malicious hacking or electronic attacks.

Others Are Waking Up To The Danger

Recently, we’ve been contacted by a well-connected group of powerful people who have formed a commission to study the matter, and have recently made a public and urgent appeal in an open letter to President Obama to take this threat seriously.

This letter was sent to the President over the Memorial Day weekend.  It begins (emphasis mine):

Given the deadly drama that would accompany a such major and sustained grid-down event, you’d think that the US would be spending lots of money to safeguard against one happening. But you’d be wrong.

A bit further in the letter they warn about the vulnerability of nuclear reactors, a risk that causes me a lot of personal concern:

We urge you immediately to issue a Presidential Study Directive (PSD) directing your National Security Advisor to lead a focused interagency effort to provide, in connection with your current budget execution activities and future budget requests, a specific program to address this natural and manmade threat. In particular, this PSD should direct that hardening technology, well known in the Department of Defense, be exploited by all agencies with responsibility for maintaining the electric power grid. It is imperative that plans are immediately implemented to protect America’s at least 100 nuclear reactors and their co-located spent fuel storage facilities from an EMP. 

As Fukushima taught the world, if nuclear plants lose grid power, they rely on diesel generators to keep the cooling water circulating.  Lacking grid power, they can keep everything working for as long as the diesel generators run. Of course, in a grid-down event nothing works, including refineries and the ability to pump and move refined fuel.  After the diesel runs out (assuming the generators themselves were not completely ruined by the EMP), the nuke plants will experience various forms of distress as cooling systems are compromised, up to and including complete meltdowns as a possibility.

Nature Can Play This Game, Too

As a reminder, an EMP can also come from a natural cause such as a coronal mass ejection from our sun — something we’ve covered in detail here in repeated interviews with NASA scientist Lika Guhathakurta (here and here) as well as in numerous reports centered on the electrical grid and/or warfare:

A coronal mass ejection from the Sun can generate a natural EMP with catastrophic consequences. A geomagnetic super-storm in 1859 called the Carrington Event caused worldwide damage and fires in telegraph stations and other primitive electronics, which at the time were not necessary for societal survival. In contrast, today a Carrington-class geomagnetic super-storm-expected every century or so-could collapse electric grids and destroy critical infrastructure everywhere on Earth.

We know it will happen; we just don’t know when, but we know humanity can’t risk being unprepared. In July 2012, we missed a repeat by only a few days when a major solar emission passed through the Earth’s orbit just after planet Earth passed. NASA recently warned that the likelihood of such a geomagnetic super-storm is 12 percent per decade; so it is virtually certain that a natural EMP catastrophe shall occur within our lifetime or that of our children.

EMP As A Tool Of War

But the bigger risk, in my mind, is that a military confrontation induces one (or several) players to use an EMP as a means of warfare. With the US poking the Russian bear, and now considering military options to confront China over the islands they are building in the South China Sea, it’s not out-of-the-question that one of these world powers could consider using an EMP as a means of retaliation..

There is one quibble I have with the letter: I’m not at all concerned about Iran at this stage. Iran has never physically threatened the US nor funded any terrorists that have directly attacked the US like, say, Saudi Arabia.  Perhaps we should be more concerned about the Saudis:

Saudis ‘to get nuclear weapons’

May 17, 2015

SAUDI ARABIA has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.

The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.

(Source)

So, yes, I’d personally be more concerned about a volatile and increasingly unstable Saudi Arabia having a few nukes in their hot little hands than I would Iran. But that’s just me. And it’s a small point relative to the main message of the letter.

I do agree, though, that the US has plenty of enemies. And its relationships with major powers Russia and China are clearly deteriorating and becoming more hostile:

China state paper warns of war over South China Sea unless U.S. backs down

May 21, 2015

A Chinese state-owned newspaper said on Monday that “war is inevitable” between China and the United States over the South China Sea unless Washington stops demanding Beijing halt the building of artificial islands in the disputed waterway.

The Global Times, an influential nationalist tabloid owned by the ruling Communist Party’s official newspaper the People’s Daily, said in an editorial that China was determined to finish its construction work, calling it the country’s “most important bottom line”.

(Source)

Full article: Sounding The Alarm On The Country’s Vulnerability To An EMP (Peak Prosperity)

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