The Earth dodged a bullet two weeks ago when an electromagnetic pulse strong enough to take down the power grid sped through the planet’s typical orbit just ahead of us. If the antiquated and overly taxed power grid were to fail due to a solar flare, cyber hacking, or EMP attack, the lack of access to electronic gadgets would be the least of our worries.
Fires caused by bursting power grid transformers, downed power lines, gas line eruptions, and airplanes falling from the sky would cause a massive loss of life. Rolling blazes caused during a solar flare or EMP attack are rarely ever factored into either FEMA planning or even discussions by preppers themselves.
FEMA estimates regarding the death toll and loss of property from a solar flare powerful enough to knock out the electrical system infrastructure are not even in the ballpark. Like many folks, I view statistics, especially government statistics, very skeptically. A few months ago, I had the privilege to interview Dr. William Forstchen, the college professor and solar flare/EMP expert who is also the author of One Second After.
After speaking with Forstchen, I realized just how divorced from reality the FEMA estimates are and the woes which will face even the most prepared rural off-grid or prepping family. It was the North Carolina professor who first got me pondering the fire aspect following a solar flare or EMP and thinking about the number of planes which will come crashing down across the country.
According to the FAA, there are about 7,000 types of aircraft flying over the United States at any given time. In addition to the thousands of passenger and crew deaths, the fires which will occur during the crashes (which will occur when a solar flare or EMP renders the plane’s electrical system useless), will destroy entire communities. Air Force One and Strategic Air Command used to control nuclear-tipped missiles are the only aircraft which are supposedly EMP proof.
Many extremely informative and educational books address what to do when you can’t call a doctor or a dentist, but what will we do when a 911 call to the fire department is no longer possible? Preppers often live in rural areas surrounded by thick forests and a plethora of wood structures for livestock and supply storage. While bugging in is the most viable option for rural preppers and off-grid individuals, staying on the family farm might not be an option when fires from more settled areas spread unchecked towards the beautiful wood cabin you call home.
Missile defense expert and High Frontier veteran Henry Cooper told the Washington Examiner the world escaped catastrophe when referencing the EMP near miss. Cooper couldn’t have been more correct, but sadly few paid any attention. Except for a few news segments over the past two years by Fox News’ Bill Hemmer, the main stream media has simply dismissed the idea of an EMP attack or a Carrington Event-size solar flare as pure prepper paranoia. The SHIELD Act, the first real attempt at protecting the power grid from an electromagnetic pulse event, has been stalled in Congress for weeks.
EMP Commission member from 2001 to 2008 Peter Vincent Pry has this to say about the electromagnetic pulse which nearly missed Earth just two weeks ago:
“A Carrington-class coronal mass ejection crossed the orbit of the Earth and basically just missed us. Basically this is a Russian roulette thing,” added Pry. “We narrowly escape from a Carrington-class disaster.”
Cooper, Pry, and former CIA Director James Woolsey want the federal government to help protect the power grid by encasing the nearly 3,000 transformers in the system with a “high tech metal box,” in addition to purchasing spare transformers to use to rebuild the system. The government cannot simply walk 300 miles to a warehouse (cars build after 1950 will likely not run after a solar flare or EMP attack) and pull a transformer back by horse and buggy. Like most products we use during our daily lives, transformers are not made herein America. If the power grid goes down, it could take months to years to rebuild the system. Scientists, professors, and FEMA cannot agree upon or pinpoint an exact repair time frame, but many feel that if a solar flare impacts the entire world, we could be without power for as long as a decade.
While the SHIELD Act may not correct all the problems with the power grid, it is truly a first step in the right direction. Even if the high-voltage protective boxes around transformers are put into place and spare transformers are carefully held in storage until they are needed, the impact a solar flare or EMP would have on America is still extremely dire. Citizens who have not put their generators, appliances, cell phones, and basically anything else with electronic components and a cord into a Faraday cage, will still be living an Amish-style existence. Preserving the power grid is extremely important, but it’s just one step in the process to mitigate disaster. I feel the most beneficial aspect of the passage of the SHIELD Act is the headlines the legislation approval will create. Far too many Americans are blissfully unaware of the major threat we continue to live under. The more citizens who are prepared for life after a solar flare or EMP attack, the less civil unrest and death will occur.
Cooper also recently noted that North Korea could already have the capability to initiate an EMP attack against America. According to the missile defense expert, North Korea tested a Space Launch Vehicle last December. The vehicle could reportedly launch a nuclear attack against the United States by orbiting the weapon at the South Pole, where missile interceptors and radar do not exist.
The EMP commission was created in the late 1990s in a Republican-controlled Congress and then re-initialized during a Democrat-controlled congressional session. The commission was a true bi-partisan endeavor and garnered unanimous support both times. The EMP commission has been inactive since the Obama administration.
Preventing the downfall of America due to a solar flare, EMP attack, or cyber hacking into the power grid’s lax security system is everyone’s problem. Unless the public applies pressure to get the SHIELD Act passed and continually pushes for more electromagnetic pulse preparedness steps to be taken, we will remain solely at the mercy of both the sun and our nuclear weapon-holding enemies.