How are you at acronyms? Do you know EPA, FEMA, and WAC? What about EMP? Not sure about that last one? Well, that is the one our enemies, whoever they might be, are scheming to use against us.

Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons

An EMP is an Electromagnetic Pulse. An electromagnetic pulse is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere – far enough above the surface that it does not level structures or even cause loss of life, but which is capable of widespread damage to power lines, telecommunications, and electronic equipment.

A high-altitude, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a limited number of threats that has the potential to cripple our society and, according to the United States government, “might result in defeat of our military forces.”

An EMP weapon exploded at a high altitude interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetic field to produce a pulse which travels across the Earth’s surface creating powerful electrical currents. It is capable of destroying anything electrical in its path – computers, televisions, appliances with electronic circuits, automotive electronics, medical devices, manufacturing equipment, transformers on the electrical grid, and so forth.

Should an EMP be exploded we will have no warning of an attack unless there is a missile detected and warning given. But since a missile launched from sea might have a flight time of just minutes, there may be no warning at all. Upon detonation – within a millisecond – we will be transported back to the 1850’s so to speak, in terms of our technology – losing access to Internet and broadcast media, the electrical grid, most appliances, hospital diagnostics and monitoring, most trucks and cars with electronic circuitry – all for a matter of weeks or months, covering an area that depends on the size of the bomb and the altitude at which it is detonated. A high altitude bomb exploded over Kansas could destroy electrical devices and the power grid in the entire United States. A low level attack, which could be initiated from a ship off the coast, could black out and destroy the power grid covering hundreds of miles, an entire section of the country.

About now, many of you may be thinking, “What a fear monger!” So before I cite a few sources, allow me to ask a “what if” question.

What if you had been an employee at the World Trade Center, and heard a warning that someone was plotting to fly two hijacked airliners into those towers and bring them down – would you have believed that possible or likely?

Did you know that the Japanese planes that attacked Pearl Harbor showed up on radar almost an hour before the attack, but when the radar operators reported them, their reports were dismissed as a mistake – just an anomaly?

Did you know that in San Francisco before the Great Quake of 1906, the fire chief warned that the water system could not handle a major fire? Then following the earthquake, there were massive fires and the water system’s failure allowed most of the city to burn to the ground?

The danger of an EMP attack is the destruction of our economy and the creation of chaos throughout society as we try to readjust everything we know about doing our work and caring for ourselves and our families. There would be minimal danger from radiation, but with exceptional harm to those with pacemakers and those standing near power stations or other powerful receptors of electricity at the time of detonation.

The EMP threat is real. It may never happen, and we all pray it never will, however the government does take the threat seriously, so in 2004 President Bush established a commission to study the possibility of an attack and the potential damage it could inflict. The following is a quote from that report:

“Some potential sources of EMP threats are difficult to deter-they can be terrorist groups that have no state identity, have only one or a few weapons, and are motivated to attack the US without regard for their own safety. Rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran, may also be developing the capability to pose an EMP threat to the United States, and may also be unpredictable and difficult to deter.

“Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas, and designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.

. . .

“China and Russia have considered limited nuclear attack options that, unlike their Cold War plans, employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack. Indeed, as recently as May 1999, during the NATO bombing of the former Yugoslavia, high-ranking members of the Russian Duma, meeting with a US congressional delegation to discuss the Balkans conflict, raised the specter of a Russian EMP attack that would paralyze the United States”

Solar Storms

There is another related threat looming which scientists agree will happen. That is a major solar storm. A solar storm would primarily affect the power grid, and would not be likely to harm electronic equipment such as computers. Solar storms can temporarily interrupt communications and might not harm equipment, other than satellites.

An extremely large solar storm could create geomagnetic currents that destroy many of the largest power transformers on the electrical grid worldwide. If and when this happens, electric power loss would likely last for a period of months in some places and years in others, because there are not enough replacement transformers available worldwide to make the needed repairs. Transformers of this scale are millions of dollars each, so it is understandable that electric utilities do not have spares on hand.

A 2008 study found that the time required to obtain a replacement for any one of the 370 largest transformers in the United States is 3 years.

It is difficult for us to imagine such a disaster because the last solar storm capable of this magnitude of damage was in the year 1859. At that time there was no power grid, though the storm did destroy and cripple much of the telegraph system both in the United States and Europe.

NASA researchers have warned that another such solar storm is inevitable. The prediction comes from a team led by Mausumi Dikpati of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). “The next sunspot cycle will be 30% to 50% stronger than the previous one,” she says. If these forecasts are correct, the years ahead could produce a burst of solar activity second only to the historic Solar Max of 1859.

To begin to understand the perfect solar storm you must first begin to understand the mind boggling numbers with which Bruce Tsurutani, a plasma physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, works. At over 1.4 million kilometres (869,919 miles) wide, the Sun contains 99.86 percent of the mass of the entire solar system – well over a million Earths could fit inside the Sun.

The total energy radiated by the Sun averages 383 billion trillion kilowatts, equaling the energy generated by 100 billion tons of TNT exploding every second.

On September 1st 1859, the Sun released a mammoth solar flare. For almost an entire minute the amount of sunlight the Sun produced at the source of the flare actually doubled.

“With the flare came this explosive release of a massive cloud of magnetically charged plasma called a coronal mass ejection. Not all coronal mass ejections head toward Earth. Those that do, usually take three to four days to get here. This one took all of 17 hours and 40 minutes,” noted BruceTsurutani.

Not only was this coronal mass ejection an extremely fast mover, the magnetic fields contained within it were extremely intense and in direct opposition with Earth’s magnetic fields. That meant the coronal mass ejection of September 1, 1859, overwhelmed Earth’s own magnetic field, allowing charged particles to penetrate into Earth’s upper atmosphere.”

All of this talk of catastrophic power failure is fearsome, yet if understood, we can begin to manage a response. If and/or when either an EMP or a solar flare casts us back to the 1850’s, we can be prepared with at least the knowledge and skills necessary to cope and move forward. Can we fix meals, do laundry and grow our own food without electrical power? Do our children have the work ethic and skills they will need to help us with the daily chores that would occupy hours instead of minutes each day?

Do we have the knowledge and skills to care for illness and injury? Will our kids drive us crazy or will we be prepared to help them make the transition from television and iPods to reading and hop scotch?

Heavenly Father is still in charge and if a solar storm happens it will be on His timetable. God does allow us our free agency, however, as we have witnessed throughout history, He allows those with evil intentions to work their plans, and sometimes bring about tremendous harm.

. . . He has warned us in scripture that this would be the case.

It is our responsibility to learn all we can to prepare for any eventuality. If we are not warned about things which may happen, we cannot fully understand how we should prepare. Now that we have a few of the facts about EMP weapons and solar flares, we can consider what power and choices we possess, and which we need to hone, by having that knowledge. Our forefathers prospered and thrived without electricity, and with some preparation and planning, we will get by just fine for however long such events may affect us.

Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack: 2004

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