For years now, we have been warned that rogue states — particularly North Korea — could turn our country into a living hell by exploding a nuclear bomb in the atmosphere over America. The electro magnetic pulse (EMP) from such a blast would fry our electrical circuits and transistors and put much of our grid out of operation. A Caracas-style blackout would descend on our nation and last, potentially, for weeks or even months.
Hospitals would not be able to function. Food could not be delivered to urban areas. The water supply would be disrupted. Mass death and starvation would ensue.
Despite the scientific consensus that this catastrophe is quite possible, our government has done little to nothing to protect us. Until now. President Donald Trump has acted. Finally.
After years of pressure from Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Democrats such as Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts and former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, Trump issued an executive order to protect us against EMP.
The order centralizes anti-EMP planning in the White House, taking it away from the departments of Energy and Homeland Security, which have underestimated the importance of anti-EMP measures.
Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, former chief of staff of the Commission to Assess the Threat from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack, explains that the order "states that the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), working with the National Security Council and the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, 'shall coordinate the development and implementation of executive branch actions to assess, prioritize, and manage the risks of EMPs.'"
The order also directs the government to "develop a plan to mitigate the effects of EMPs on the vulnerable priority-critical infrastructures."
It is not only an attack by North Korea or some other nuclear power such as China or Russia that we must fear. An EMP can be triggered by our old friend the Sun.
NBC News explains how "A geomagnetic storm triggered by a burst of solar energy could overwhelm the nation's power grid and shut down cell towers and communication networks."
"Occasionally, the sun unleashes pent-up energy in the form of a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a blast of plasma. ... Earth's magnetic field protects us against the sun's firehose of energy, but sometimes the sun overpowers the planet's defenses. ... When the coronal mass ejection arrives a day or so later, it interacts with and dramatically changes Earth's magnetic field," causing a blackout of the grid.
In 1859, precisely this happened, but electricity was not in widespread use, so the effects were not broadly felt.
William R. Graham, chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat from EMP Attack since 2001 and former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan, has been a voice crying in the wilderness to make Washington pay attention to the dangers of EMP.
Now, President Trump has listened.