Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Most Horrifying Threat

Perhaps the most dangerous threat facing our nation from abroad is not the annihilation of our cities in a nuclear holocaust or the threat of chemical or biological warfare. Rather, the most terrifying danger we face is easily the threat of EMP visited upon us by the Iranians or the North Koreans.

What, you may ask, is EMP? An article by James H. Hyde in The Federalist explains. The whole article is worth reading but here's the salient excerpt:
EMP stands for “electromagnetic pulse,” and it is truly devastating to anything and everything that has a microchip in it or is part of the crumbling, antiquated, and hopelessly snarled convergence of wires we call our electric grid.

An EMP-based weapon would do a good deal of damage. But if the last two DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea) tests involved thermonuclear devices, they could become Super-EMPs. When those are put aboard a satellite and detonated 300 miles above the center of the U.S., just one of them would...[throw] our urban and suburban populaces into abject panic and chaos.

As I write this, the DPRK has two satellites flying above us on a south to north trajectory....While no data stream has been detected coming from either “earth-based satellite” (according to the DPRK), it is not known whether nuclear devices are aboard those satellites or whether they are “test vehicles.”

Kim Jung Un's request for a satellite in higher orbit is particularly troubling: it means he could pack an EMP or Super-EMP device on it and put it into orbit over the U.S. Unless we take swift measures to “harden” our electric grid and military assets—and soon—America could become an endangered society. An EMP or Super-EMP detonated at an altitude of between 25 and 300 miles (the higher the better) would be cataclysmic.

The detonation itself would not harm us physically. The kinetic energy (radiation) would dissipate harmlessly in space. The increased gamma rays, however, would race toward earth in three waves, milliseconds apart. Electrons in air molecules in our atmosphere would be knocked out by gamma rays in massive numbers that then rush earthward. Once they came in contact with the ground, they would take out transformers in substations. Hyper-electrical pulses would snake along our electric lines, destroying transmission and distribution technologies as they go.

The immediate effects would be withering: planes in flight would start falling from the skies. Chemical plants that control hazardous materials would no longer be controlled, imperiling all who live nearby as their computerized technology fails. Most cars built after 1974 would lose power. Trains, especially those operating on electrified tracks, would come to a halt. Tens of thousands would be stuck in elevators nationwide....City populations living in skyscraper apartment buildings would no longer get water pumped to them. Bottled water would disappear from supermarket shelves on the first day. Most supermarkets are stocked for only three days worth of consumable inventory, especially meats and fresh vegetables.

Perhaps most vulnerable in the transmission and distribution system are huge transformers that are extremely hard to replace, and (as with so many other industries) no longer manufactured here. They now come from Germany and South Korea. These transformers are complex power regulators that take a year to build and cost $10 million. They must be shipped here and off-loaded to special trucks that can accommodate them. Each one can weigh over 400 tons. A standard 18-wheeler won’t do the job. Their tires would burst.

Plus, gasoline would become extremely scarce. Oil refineries would cease to function, so finding enough gas to power these huge trucks would be nigh impossible. We have some backup transformers here, but nowhere near enough to replace all of the damaged ones hit by an EMP. Estimates are that it would be at least a decade before we could replace enough transformers to get at least some electricity flowing.
But the devastation would not end there. In fact that would be the least of it:
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “There are 60 commercially operating nuclear power plants with 100 nuclear reactors in 30 states in the United States. Of these plants, 36 have two or more reactors.” Nuclear power plants are as dependent on power from the grid as any other energy-consuming entities. The Nuclear Regulatory Agency mandates that a one-week supply of diesel fuel be sustained at each nuclear plant to fuel the backup generators. But it’s useless if there are any computer chips running those generators. The only other possibility is to use battery backups for as long as possible. When those fail, even reactors taken offline need to be bathed constantly in cold water. Without generators or batteries to pump that water, there’s no way to cool the reactors or the spent-fuel-rod pools. Once the water boils off, it’s Fukushima times 100.

Regardless of how it’s done, few would survive an EMP attack. If we were to be hit by a Super-EMP, only those who have amply prepared by having renewable water supplies and food stores will have a chance.All of those reactors will melt down with the spent-fuel rods. Hydrogen will build up in the tops of the reactors, as it did in Fukushima, and if ignited would cause the same explosions we saw in Japan. With the Jet Stream flowing from west to east, radioactivity would cover the nation.

Given barbarous regimes of North Korea and Iran, the fanaticism of their leaders, and their hatred for the United States, we should assume that if they ever achieve the capability to detonate a nuclear device over this country, they'll do it, even if it means their own national suicide. If such a horrific event ever does occur then most North Americans will die and those who survive will find themselves living under 19th century conditions.

Some critics think fears of an EMP attack are overblown, and perhaps they are, but no one really knows. Even so, why are our media and presidential candidates talking about how many bankruptcies Trump has filed and how many women will vote for Hillary? Why are they not talking about how they'll protect us from what is potentially the most serious threat facing this nation in its history? Why are we such an unserious people?