May 9th, 2014
There are few things that could revert our modern day civilization back to the Stone Age. Most of them are naturally occurring events such as a massive asteroid impact, a global Tsunami, or a super volcano. But as far as man-made events go, an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack on our national power grid would be so devastating that, according to a panel of experts who addressed Congressional members on Capitol Hill this week, a nuclear strike would pale in comparison.
Such an event could originate from our sun as a powerful solar discharge or in the form of what experts call a Super EMP bomb, a device currently being tested by China, Russia and North Korea that’s capable of deploying a nuclear warhead-tipped ballistic missile several hundred miles over the continental United States. It’s a line-of-sight technology, meaning that if it’s detonated above the central U.S. the electro-magnetic burst from the detonation could reach from coast to coast, destroying electronic components and utility company transformers along the way.
Within seconds every electronically powered device we’ve come to use in our interconnected world would be rendered useless. Cell phones, GPS systems, residential electricity lines, and even the electrical ignition systems in cars would no longer function.
“Some would say it’s low probability, but the damage that could be caused in the event of an EMP attack, both by the sun, a solar event, or a man-made attack, would be catastrophic,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) at a hearing of the Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. ”We talk a lot about a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, and cybersecurity threat to the power grid in the Northeast, and all of these things would actually probably pale in comparison to the devastation that an EMP attack could perpetrate on Americans.”
As noted by The Washington Free Beacon, Congressional members are so worried about such a possibility that they are feverishly working to pass legislation that would implement new protective measures across the national power grid.
Failure to take action now, says Representative Frant Trent (R-AZ), could lead to “catastrophic civilian casualties.”
“Every single facet of modern human life would be crippled by such an event.”
“It strikes at my very core when I think of the men, women, and children in cities and rural towns across America with a possibility of no access to food, water, or transportation.”
“In a matter of weeks or months at most, a worst-case scenario could bring devastation beyond imagination.”
“The civilian grid, in my judgment, is very vulnerable.”
“Some of the largest transformers, the very largest ones, have an inherent resistance to all but the more intense electromagnetic pulses. But the fact is, we have enough of those mid-range transformers where a major event would be catastrophic.”
Former Congressman Roscoe Bartlett takes the threat so seriously that he has urged Americans with the ability to do so to move out of major cities, citing the fact that electrical transformers are now built outside of the United States and require a manufacturing lead time of anywhere from 18 to 36 months. Should a cascading surge happen across the U.S. power grid all at once it would be impossible for utility companies to restore electricity services in any reasonable amount of time.