Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One Second After and an EMP Attack

How the area is affected depends on the burst ...
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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about a book that I had started reading, One Second After, by William Forstchen.  It is the story of the potential impact of an Electromagnetic Pulse attack against the United States.  In short, an EMP attack could occur if one or more nuclear devices are detonated above the atmosphere.  An EMP attack would basically fry the delicate circuitry of most of our technology and electrical grid, throwing us back to 19th century technology.  The book deals with the struggles of a community in trying to survive.

For the most part, I enjoyed the book.  There were a couple things here and there that I thought were a little questionable.  For instance, new automobiles would be rendered inoperable due to the delicate circuitry in modern automobiles.  Older cars, that did not rely on higher tech circuitry would still operate.  That part of the book was based in technological fact.  However, the story covered over a year in the life of this community, and one year after the attack, they still had gasoline to operate cars that still worked.

The book also contained an afterward written by Captain Bill Sanders of the US Navy. Captain Sanders addresses the possibilities contained in the book.  Throughout his life and his Naval career, Captain Sanders has had an interest in nuclear weaponry. A group of nine American scientist came to a consensus in the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack came to the conclusion that the threat of an EMP attack was not just theoretical but very possible.  Unfortunately, the report was released the same day as the 9/11 commission which garnered far more attention from the media.

Captain Sanders quotes one of the authors of the commission, Dr. Lowell Wood, a nuclear physicist who has studied EMP weaponry for three decades.  Dr. Wood describes an EMP attack as "a continental time machine that would move us back to the nineteenth century."  When questioned about the ability of 19th century technology supporting the current population, Dr Wood replied, "The population will shrink until it can be supported by the technology."  In other words, the population would die off from disease and starvation.  In One Second After, the community had a survival rate of 20%, which was considered good under the circumstances.  Cities, in particular, would be hit hardest by an EMP attack.

Captain Sanders states that a well designed nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude over Kansas could have an impact over nearly the entire continental United States.  In Forstchen's book, the attack came from three nuclear devices detonated over different parts of the country.  The commission has warned that we are "vulnerable and virtually unprotected against an EMP attack could damage or destroy civilian and military critical electronic infrastructures triggering catastrophic consequences that could cause the permanent collapse of our society."

We ignored the warnings that lead to the 9/11 attacks.  With countries like Iran and North Korea pursuing nuclear and missile technology, will we ignore the warnings of the consequences of a potential EMP attack?  I certainly hope not.  There are steps that can be taken to protect us against the consequences of an EMP attack.  When I do, I will publish that letter here.  There is a lot of debate on how extensive the role of the federal government should be.  What is not in debate is that their chief role is to protect us from attack.  In the next day or two, I intend to email my Senators and Congressman to ask them what they are doing to protect us from the hazard of an EMP attack.  
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  1. I posted about EMPs twice last week - my sources said we'd be thrown back to the 18th century. I myself would prefer the 17th, but that's juts me!

    SERIOUSLY, I have often wondered why the heck everyone was all so keen to replace all of the existing pillars of commerce and information (banking, pumping gas, traffic control, electricity, radio & tv broadcasting) with computer-controlled systems and NOT keep the "old ways" in place as back-up!

    The only existing "back-up" technology we have is the Bell Telephone LandLine Network! By the way, at our original family home, telephone service has NEVER gone out once in almost 50 years! We had numerous electric interruptions due to weather, and once natural gas was shut off for a week while workers hunted for an underground neighborhood leak.

    Makes ya wonder!

    1. what is scary, aside from the thought of it occurring, is the fact that the government has seen several studies with recommendations on what needs to be done to protect against such an attack, and they have done nothing



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