The United States is under threat from an intercontinental Electromagnetic Pulse detonated miles above US soil according to some experts who say the threat of nuclear war is an outdated one in comparison to the crippling effects of a strong electromagnetic pulse weapon which could destroy our technological way of life in a matter of seconds.
An EMP is something that would overload any electronics, making computer chips in cars suddenly fry and become useless. As a result there would be mile long road blocks of traffic on several roads and highways. Since food production is heavily dependent on the US’ infrastructure shortages of certain items would occur throughout the fifty states within a matter of days. Even the bread basket has a considerable amount of grain and corn would be tied up in feed for animals, which are several states away across chaotic and treacherous terrain. And of course the remaining bureaucratic institutions inhibiting this flow there would no doubt be even more drastic delays.
In addition to the concerns about transportation, financial institutions dependent on complex computer systems and networks would immediately fail, and the financial system would be sent into chaos sparking riots. Even billionaires would have little more to go on financially than the assets they kept at their houses.
And of course information distribution would be difficult, as information would largely be passed by print or word of mouth. Hospitals would still be able to function in a minimal capacity, but would largely be thrown into chaos as staff trained to work with an electronic data keeping system would be forced to resort to something vastly alien. Of course electronics would be rebuilt with time, but it would take time. It’s this window of opportunity for aggressors that the experts are afraid of.
With US nuclear policy drastically changing, there is a realization that several nuclear weapons not only are not necessary but would actually be detrimental for an invading force. Several are suggesting that an invading force would be more effective if it detonated a high altitude Electromagnetic Pulse of nuclear origin and then used ground troops to move in after the technology dependent infrastructure was crippled.
But there are precautions that could be made, both with the military and private sector. A device called a “faraday cage” is capable of channeling electromagnetic energy around the hardened container and protect it from hostile EMP attack. A recent report by the Pentagon recommended the Navy harden itself against High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (or HEMP) stating that such attacks could cripple entire fleets if proper precautions were not taken.
But unfortunately, like many threats, since there is no precedent of electromagnetic pulse attacks, it’s difficult to convince several members of congress to change their minds about passing laws protecting the millions at risk should an EMP attack occur within our lifetimes. Perhaps with an increased interest in revamping nuclear policy there will be an increased understanding of the dangers of a limited nuclear strike utilizing EMP pulse.