Vulnerability: Expert testimony before Congress on Thursday warned that an electromagnetic pulse attack on our power grid and electronic infrastructure could leave most Americans dead and the U.S. in another century.
That dire warning came from Peter Vincent Pry, a member of the Congressional EMP Commission and executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
He testified in front of the House Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies that an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event could wipe out 90% of America's population.
Most people's eyes might glaze over upon mention of the committee name, the title of the hearing — "Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP): Threat to Critical Infrastructure" — and the general subject of EMP. But it is a real threat and not the stuff of science fiction.
Some attention has been paid to the potential cataclysmic effects of a natural phenomenon such as a massive solar storm, an event that has occurred in America's horse-and-buggy era when it did not matter.
Today an electromagnetic pulse event would be devastating. It wouldn't need a solar storm, just a solitary nuke detonated in the atmosphere above the American heartland. We would envy the horse-and-buggy era.
"Natural EMP from a geomagnetic superstorm, like the 1859 Carrington Event or 1921 Railroad Storm, and nuclear EMP attack from terrorists or rogue states, as practiced by North Korea during the nuclear crisis of 2013, are both existential threats that could kill 9-of-10 Americans through starvation, disease and societal collapse," the Washington Free Beacon quoted Pry as saying.
As we reported early last year, Pry, a former CIA nuclear weapons analyst, believes that North Korea's recent seemingly low-yield nuclear tests and launch of a low-orbit satellite may in fact be preparations for a future electromagnetic pulse attack.
A copy of a report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department, obtained by Pry from sources within DHS, finds North Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack America from the south.
As the Heritage Foundation has reported, an EMP attack with a warhead detonated 25 to 300 miles above the U.S. mainland "would fundamentally change the world:"
"Airplanes would fall from the sky; most cars would be inoperable; electrical devices would fail. Water, sewer and electrical networks would fail simultaneously. Systems of banking, energy, transportation, food production and delivery, water, emergency services and even cyberspace would collapse."
Not many are killed or harmed by the blast itself, but as the EMP pulse spreads across America, life changes in an instant, coming to a screeching halt as a country dependent on cutting-edge 21st century technology regresses at least a century in time instantaneously.
Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., told the Free Beacon that Americans are unaware of the devastation that would occur if the country experienced a solar storm similar to the Carrington Event. Named after British astronomer Richard Carrington, that 1859 solar storm was the largest on record.
Franks has introduced H.R. 3410, the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act, which would let Homeland Security take practical steps to protect the electric grid. This bill has been called a "necessary first step" in protecting the nation's power grid.
At a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte at the end of the Nuclear Security Summit in March, President Obama said he didn't believe Russia was our greatest national security threat.
"I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan," Obama said.
Maybe he should be concerned about a nuclear weapon going off over Iowa.
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