Threat of EMP offers real apocalypse panic scenario
2004 Executive Summary from the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (www.empcommission.org) the U.S. Congress created in 2001.
It says: "A single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States will interact with the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiating down to the Earth and additionally create electrical currents in the Earth. EMP effects are both direct and indirect. The former are due to electromagnetic 'shocking' of electronics and stressing of electrical systems, and the latter arise from the damage that 'shocked' -- upset, damaged, and destroyed -- electronics controls then inflict on the systems in which they are embedded. The indirect effects can be even more severe than the direct effects."
In short, a host of supercharged electrons would fry electronics for hundreds of miles, meaning everything that ran on computer chips wouldn't run. And what doesn't today?
An EMP would take out the electric grid, our food distribution network, banking, possibly even cars. Most people realize the harm computer viruses unleashed by hostile governments or basement losers can do to one bank or power plant. But a major EMP burst wouldn't just force us to reboot everything. It would require physical repair of hundreds of vital installations. For months, huge numbers of people would be without power, food or transportation, making them what experts call "dead."
It could even happen naturally. The sun buffets Earth constantly with charged particles, but this "solar wind" varies greatly in intensity. And while it has damaged satellites and messed up radio signals recently, and a geomagnetic storm took down Quebec's electric grid in 1989, even the solar storm that blacked out radio throughout the U.S. in 1958 was not, scientist believe, nearly as potent as 1859's "Carrington Event". Anything on that scale would devastate today's chip-dependent world.
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