The Possibility of EMP

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is a large, very-short-duration, release of electromagnetic energy into the atmosphere. Most often these pulses are associated with the high-altitude detonation of nuclear weapons. As these waves of energy pass across electrical conductors, such as the wires that make up the national power grid, or even the conductors inside the tiny integrated circuits of modern computers, large electrical currents are induced. These currents are strong enough that the affected wires and circuits can simply burn out, not unlike an electrical fuse burning out when too much current flows through it.

The result is that these electrical systems cease to work until they are repaired, and a repair of the entire national power grid has been estimated to require in excess of ten years. This does not even take into account all the other electrical and electronic devices that would also require repair or replacement (for example, the electronics inside modern fuel pumps). Developed nations would instantly be transported to a reality that would truly be surreal, and quite deadly.

The reality is that a weapons-caused EMP event is unlikely because it would almost certainly need to be delivered by missile, and very few nations have the capability to deliver a high-altitude atomic burst over the US. Any nation with that degree of sophistication would probably not want to risk the almost certain retaliation that would result.

However, EMP pulses can also be generated by solar storms, and those storms do happen occasionally (see my previous posting about the ‘Carrington Event’ of 1859). As a result it is entirely possible that an EMP event will affect you within your lifetime, or certainly will affect your children within their lifetimes. Such an event would pose a serious threat to civilization throughout the world.

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