We haven’t heard much lately about the potential effects of an electromagnetic pulse attack on our country, but we’re going to hear about it soon. “Revolution,” a TV show premiering next month, will explore the question: What would happen to our society if we lost all of our electricity?
Imagine an environment in which nothing electrical works. Imagine a world without computers, energy, transportation, banking, food production, telephones or emergency services. Imagine a world facing chaos, without electrical power. That's the premise of “Revolution.” Think that’s far-fetched? Think again. It is possible and we’re not prepared to deal with such an environment. It will be interesting to see how the TV people plot out such a scenario.
The TV show is not expected to reveal the cause of the blackout immediately, but there are really only two possibilities: an EMP attack or a large solar flare.
Since solarflares that affect us are fairly rare, the likely cause of the “Revolution” blackout is an EMP attack.
The TV show will create drama, but the possibilities for the real world more staggering than is likely to be staged for television.
Lowell Wood, acting chairman of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from an EMP Attack, said such an attack “… could cripple the U. S.”
EMP attacks can be generated when a nuclear weapon is detonated a few dozen kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The explosion of even a small nuclear warhead would produce a set of electromagnetic pulses that interact with the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field.
“These electromagnetic pulses propagate from the burst point of the nuclear weapon to the line of sight on the Earth’s horizon, potentially covering a vast geographic region at the speed of light,” said Woo d .
For example, a nuclear weapon detonated at 400 kilometers over the central United States could cover, with its primary electromagnetic pulse, the entire United States and parts of Canada and Mexico.
As Eric Kripke, one of the TV show’s executive producers, said, “Damage to lives and property would be immense, and the ensuing devastation would continue for years, if not decades.”
Newt Gingrich, former House speaker, has consistently warned of this possibility. In a 2009 article, he said “one to three missiles tipped with nuclear weapons and armed to detonate at a high altitude … would create an EMP ‘overlay” that triggers a continentwide collapse of our entire electrical, transportation, and communications infrastructure.
“Those who claim that there is little to fear from Iran or North Korea, because ‘at best’ they will have only one or two nuclear weapons, ignore the catastrophic level of threat we now face from just ‘a couple’ of nuclear weapons.”
So, don’t get complacent. Enjoy the drama of a new series that focuses on a prolonged electrical blackout, but be aware the show will deal with real world possibilities.
The National Heritage Foundation says an EMP attack constitutes one of the greatest threats to national security. Unfortunately few Americans have ever heard of it, so the foundation recommended Congress establish August 15 as National EMP Awareness Day.