Electromagnetic Pulse and American Security

Eric Harris of Etherton and Associates (a defense consulting firm) wrote an article called Electromagnetic Pulse and American Security that has been called a welcome addition to the growing voices calling for more attention to the threat of EMP weapons being deployed against the U.S.

There are the usual panicky pronouncements about America being thrown back into 18th century overnight when our electricity is out long-term due to an attack, which is silly since people moved easily from the 18th century (the 1700s) into the 19th and 20th century sans power grid, iPhones and computers. But Harris’ attitude toward a long-term blackout is indicative of the attitude of many Americans – which is why an EMP would be so dangerous. A region wide blackout that lasted more than a week would be seen by many as an Apocalypse and they will act accordingly. And by act I mean loot, riot and lose their collective minds.

Harris makes several suggestions to mitigate the threat which can only be implemented by the government. Among them are hardening infrastructure, creating a national space weather emergency plan and having a missile defense capability aimed at stopping EMP warhead strikes. If we weren’t broke I’d say they’re all great ideas. I would add that each one of us can personally mitigate the threat by being prepared for extended blackouts and the service interruptions that entails. This means having ways to cook and clean without power or running water, food storage that can be utilized without electricity, water storage, heat and shelter that isn’t reliant on the grid and back up plans for procuring necessities when credit cards won’t work, gas won’t pump and stores are closed.

This doesn’t mean going solar (solar systems will be fried as well) it means being able to live a non-electric lifestyle when necessary. Check out stores like Lehman’s to find appliances that work without power. Have multiple oil lamps on hand as well as candles and flashlights, with plenty of lamp oil. Re-learn skills your grandparents had like doing laundry with a washboard and washtub. Have multiple emergency cooking methods including charcoal and wood grills, sterno stoves (I have one which works well) and the old-fashioned campfire tripod.

There’s much more but you get the idea. The EMP weapon threat is a terrorist play. it relies on Americans being afraid of losing their comfortable lifestyle for a long period of time. If Americans can prepare themselves for a few months or *gasp* years of not having reliable power that threat loses much of its teeth.

Which isn’t to say this isn’t a serious threat. High mortality rates are the hallmark of any country without reliable power and sanitation. Disease and starvation will run rampant even if we are all prepared. But the government can’t stop the eventual use of EMP weapons by terrorists or a rogue state, so it’s prudent to prepare for the eventuality.