EMP stands for electro-magnetic pulse. An EMP style attack could target the electrical grid or electronic devices. If our electrical grid is compromised, many other infrastructures will be affected. But is this a real threat?
To truly understand the impact an EMP would have, we must understand how an EMP works.
There are two types of EMPs, natural and manmade. A coronal mass ejection or CME is what a lot of people refer to as a “solar flare”. A CME is caused by the sun’s energy. There have been many recorded “solar storms” in history, with some being more powerful than others.
There are 5 countries that are currently capable of building an large scale EMP nuke: The US, Israel, China, Russia, and possibly Iran. However, an EMP does not have to be such a sophisticated attack. Smaller terrorist groups could still create a smaller scale attack. An EMP does not have to be accurate to be effective. The weapon just needs to be detonated in the atmosphere above the targeted area.
There are 3 major ways the grid could be attacked.
1. A large Nuclear EMP
A nuke with 50-200 kilovolts of energy in our atmosphere could knock out the entire nation’s power. This would obviously disrupt the banking system, the food delivery system, and other key infrastructures.
2. A localized physical grid attack or cyberattack
Whether it be foreign terrorists or domestic vandalism, localized grid attacks can cause real power outages.
16 years ago, New York City had the most widespread blackout in human history caused by “tree branches touching power lines” and human error. Source
3. A "CME" or “Solar Flare”
Some of the most notable “Solar Storms” are the “Quebec Storm” of 1989 which affected 7 million people and the 100 times larger “Carrington Event” in 1859, in which the effects were felt worldwide.
In the 1850s, the Carrington Event affected telegraph systems. However, it’s not hard to imagine how different the effects would be if it occured today. We are incredibly dependent on technology. In fact, you are probably reading this on a phone or computer. Could you imagine a solar event of that proportion?
How likely is this kind of event?
Experts say that there is a 12% chance there will be another Carrington class storm in the next 10 years. That can be a scary figure, and the US government is correct to take action in hardening our electrical grid.
So should you be worried? It is not good to worry, but perhaps the question should be: “What should I do?”.
In the event of a nuclear EMP, Localized grid attack or CME, we should all do our part to be reasonably prepared. No, you don’t have to build a massive underground bunker to be prepared.
Everyone has a different way of preparing for emergencies, maybe it’s just having water storage, maybe it's storing a few electronics in a “Faraday Cage”. No matter what your plan is, Practical Preppers is here to help.
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