Will a strike to America’s national power grid be the modern day Pearl Harbor or 9.0 Earthquake?
My student at Georgetown University, Nikolas Lundeen, recently made me aware of a threat to America that every American must know and act upon.
What if I told you that an attack on our electrical infrastructure by Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP), would result in the deaths of millions of Americans? The government will protect us, you say? Our own government depends almost entirely on civilian sources of electricity, effectively eliminating its ability to function, much less protect its citizens in the event of such disaster.
But we can take steps to protect ourselves from this potential disaster and immediate threat. Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., recognized the situation and has attempted to move forward H.R. 668, also known as the SHIELD Act, to protect the U.S. from this unfeigned threat to our civilization.
Electromagnetic Pulses, or EMPs, are the type of attack that could devastate our nation. The main threat of a manmade EMP could come via a nuclear weapon. According to James Woolsey, director of the CIA under President Clinton:
“A nuclear weapon detonated at high-altitude, above 30 kilometers, will generate an electromagnetic pulse that can be likened to a super-energetic radio wave, more powerful than lightning, that can destroy and disrupt electronics across a broad geographic area . . . An EMP attack would collapse the electric grid and other infrastructure that depends on it — communications, transportation, banking and finance, food and water — necessary to sustain modern civilization and the lives of 300 million Americans.”
Many of the U.S.’s military threats, including China, Russia, and North Korea (with Iran not too far behind), all appear to have Super EMP capabilities that with a single strike could take out power across this country. Scarier yet, the U.S. does not have radar detection or missile defense structures to prevent it, making it vulnerable to attacks via submarine or through Fractional Orbital Bombardment Systems (FOBS), where missiles are shot into space, orbit around the earth, and then attack. These attack systems are limitless in terms of distance and unpredictable.
More alarming than the threat of a manmade EMP attack is the fact that natural occurring EMP’s happen as well and cannot be prevented. They are therefore even more concerning.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, the executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security who served on the Congressional EMP Commission, the Armed Services Committee, and the CIA, put it this way:
“An EMP can also be generated by the Sun. A solar flare or coronal mass ejection can generate a rare geomagnetic super-storm similar to an EMP attack from a high-yield nuclear weapon, with equally catastrophic consequences. The last geomagnetic super-storm was the Carrington Event of 1859, that caused worldwide damage and fires in telegraph stations and other primitive electronics — none of which were then necessary for societal survival.
No geomagnetic super-storm has occurred since 1859 to threaten the existence of our increasingly electronic society. Great geomagnetic storms are estimated to occur every century or so. Many scientists think we are overdue. Many believe there is a heightened risk of a geomagnetic super-storm during the peak of the solar maximum that is occurring now and will last through 2013. The solar maximum recurs every 11 years.
A Carrington-class geomagnetic super-storm, that could collapse electric grids and critical infrastructures everywhere on Earth, is someday inevitable.”
So, not only do we face a true military threat, but also an inescapable natural hazard that threatens to be a civilization ending type event. Before you dismiss me as “Chicken Little,” you should know that these dangers are real enough that in December of 2012, the National Intelligence Council considered an EMP event to be so treacherous as to be considered a “black swan” event — one of only eight such incidents whose results would potentially be dire enough to change the course of global civilization before 2030.
The result of this “black swan” event would be a societal collapse threatening all in the affected area, limiting our nation’s possible response, placing it at the mercy of those societies untouched by such an occurrence, and effectively causing the U.S. to lose its sovereign status.
With food shortages, lack of communication, and the effects of human nature on society, the U.S. would depend on other countries to repair our infrastructure (much of which is made in other countries already) and to supply us with the aid necessary for survival. Only a few countries are protected from EMP type events, Russia and China included, mostly because they have realized the seriousness of the threat and their power grids are state run.
If the world is ravaged by EMP as a result of the sun, does the U.S. really want to depend on Chinese and Russian assistance for survival? Even if this were the case, would aid come quickly enough to allow U.S. civilization to continue?
Throughout our history, we have resolved to be reactive to threats of national security instead of being proactive to prevent them. In this event, the U.S. would not have the capability to react. The only way to truly protect our country in terms of national defense is to take a preventative approach.
The U.S. is not limited in terms of options. The only questions are will we take such steps and who will foot the bill? Dr. Pry, who is one of the staunchest supporters of such measures, has been dedicated to finding ways to solve the problem before it is too late.
“The EMP Commission provided a cost-effective plan, endorsed by all subsequent U.S. government studies that could within a few years protect U.S. critical infrastructures from the worst effects of EMP. Indeed, protecting the 300 most important high-energy transformers that are indispensable to the national power grid is estimated to cost $100-200 million — about one dollar for every American life that would be saved.
This alone is probably not sufficient protection, but it is the absolute minimum necessary to create the possibility of saving millions of American lives,” Pry stated.
“The Congressional EMP Commission estimated that robust EMP protection of the national electric grid could be accomplished by a one-time investment of $2 billion dollars — which is what the U.S. gives to Pakistan every year in foreign aid. The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission estimates that protecting the national grid could be accomplished at a cost to the average rate payer of merely 20 cents annually,” he said.
The SHIELD Act makes progress towards forcing the government to taking the most cost-effective approach to solve this problem. To find out more about the bill click here
. It is not too late to take the measures necessary to save the U.S. from such a cataclysmic and nation altering event.
Now is the time to reach out to your representative and senator to find out what they are doing with regard to the EMP threat. At the beginning of this year, the people of Maine did not understand the EMP threat. Now, the Maine legislature has enacted a law very similar to the SHIELD Act. The same should be — and must be, done by every state and by our federal government — to protect our country now and into our future.
The threat of EMPs has been ignored in favor of environmental initiatives, such as global climate change that do not pose immediate and certain threats, but are instead used by politicians to bask in the celebrity media they crave for attention.
America must treat the most serious and life changing national security threats now, before it is too late. The role of government is to prevent harm not merely respond to — assuming government will be in a position to do so.
Nikolas Lundeen contributed to this report. He is a student at the Georgetown University Semester in Washington Program.
Bradley A. Blakeman served as deputy assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001-04. He is currently a professor of Politics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion. Read more reports from Bradley Blakeman — Click Here Now.
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