EMP stands for Electromagnetic pulse. It is a burst of electromagnetic radiation that results from suddenly fluctuating magnetic fields that can be caused by solar activity, nuclear explosions, lightening, and other sources. These EMP’s are known to produce damaging current and voltage surges that destroy electronic circuits, microprocessors and computer chips. Basically everything from delicate electronics to the power company’s transformers is at risk. In other words life as we know it in America would be changed drastically and thousands of people will die.
There are naturally occurring EMPs that come from our sun and lightning. One devastating source of EMPs radiation is our own sun. The Earth has been burned more than once by EMPs from geomagnetic storms caused by Solar Coronal Mass Ejections or CMEs. They are solar storms that originate at the surface of the sun. These Coronal Mass Ejections often occur along with high solar flare activity. When material from a CME reaches the Earth, widespread effects can result from the EMP effect. One of the best known and documented was the solar super storm of 1859 that is called “The Carrington Event”. It is named after the 19th century astronomer who observed the solar flare associated with this incident.
You can see a more in depth story at this link.
Another source of EMPs is the lightning seen during thunderstorms but its effect is largely localized.
The big threat in our life time are Man Made EMPs or High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) Devices. These Nuclear Explosions are the most powerful man made EMP sources developed to date. Their power poses one of the greatest threats to our modern electronic based infrastructure that our society depends. These EMP effects are lessened when a low-level ground strike happens. It’s the high-altitude nuclear explosion that produces the powerful and widespread EMP radiation effects. Using a bomb used to create EMP effects is referred to by the military as a HEMP (high-altitude electromagnetic pulse) device. Historical examples of testing these devices has shown that they can be used as a effective weapon to neutralize an enemy’s infrastructure while creating minimum damage to buildings, structures and people.
Some Quotes from people in the know.
I have believed for a long time that EMP or electromagnetic pulse may be the greatest strategic threat we face, because without adequate preparation its impact would be so horrifying that we would, in fact, basically lose our civilization in a matter of seconds.
-Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the House of Representatives
The idea that this is some science fiction that has no basis in reality denies and defies what a bipartisan EMP commission agreed that it did represent – and that is a serious threat to the safety and security of every single American.
-Mike Huckabee, former Governor of Arkansas
It’s not a secret. You can’t do anything about something that’s this broad in impact and still secret. So in order to get anything done you actually have to acknowledge we have a weakness. And, we worried about the fact that if we acknowledged that we had a weakness, how damaging will that be since we will inform our adversaries. We came to the conclusion that our adversaries are really quite well informed already.
-Robert Hermann, Commissioner, Congressional EMP Commission
So, what can you or I do to prepare for life after an EMP? We will follow that up in the next post.