Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Electromagnetic Pulse Likely

“The sky erupts. Cities darken, food spoils and homes fall silent. Civilization collapses.” The idea is not as fictional as some may think. USA Today published an article discussing such a catastrophe.

An electromagnetic pulse can be triggered by a supersized solar storm or a terrorist A-bomb, and would be capable of disabling the electric grid that powers modern cities and towns.

“Electromagnetic pulses (EMP) are oversized outbursts of atmospheric electricity. Whether powered by geomagnetic storms or by nuclear blasts, their resultant intense magnetic fields can induce ground currents strong enough to burn out power lines and electrical equipment across state lines.

The threat has even become political fodder, drawing warnings from former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a likely presidential contender. ‘We are not today hardened against this,” he told a Heritage Foundation audience last year. “It is an enormous catastrophic threat.’”

“Meanwhile, in Congress, a ‘Grid Act’ bill aimed at the threat awaits Senate action, having passed in the House of Representatives.

“Fear is evident. With the sun’s 11-year solar cycle ramping up for its stormy maximum in 2012, and nuclear concerns swirling about Iran and North Korea, a drumbeat of reports and blue-ribbon panels center on electromagnetic pulse scenarios.

“More than 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines traverse North America, supplying 1,800 utilities the power for TVs, lights, refrigerators and air conditioners in homes, and for businesses, hospitals and police stations.”

“‘The electric grid’s vulnerability to cyber and to other attacks is one of the single greatest threats to our national security,’ Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in June as he introduced the bill to the House of Representatives.”

“Two historic incidents often figure in the discussion:

“On July 9, 1962…, a 1.4-megaton H-bomb was tested at an altitude of 250 miles, some 900 miles southwest of Hawaii over the Pacific Ocean. The pulse shorted out streetlights in Oahu.

“On March 9, 1989, the sun spat a million-mile-wide blast of high-temperature charged solar gas straight at the Earth. The “coronal mass ejection” struck the planet three days later, triggering a geomagnetic storm that made the northern lights visible in Texas. The storm also induced currents in Quebec’s power grid that knocked out power for 6 million people in Canada and the USA for at least nine hours.”

Imagine what could happen to society if a perfect solar storm would knock out a significant portion of the global electrical grid. Some scientists think such an event is inevitable in the next 100 years. “It has to be the perfect storm,” they say, but also say that they believe it is likely.

“While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land…. in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power… These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast.” Great Controversy, p. 589-590.

USA Today