ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP) & CORONAL MASS EJECTION (CME)
EMP or electromagnetic pulse is an energy wave that is produced by a nuclear bomb when it is detonated in the atmosphere. Energy is propagated in the form of magnetic waves.
These magnetic waves, are harmless to humans, but will produce high electrical current in metal such as electrical wires. Virtually every electronic device that we rely on is vulnerable to this pulse. Modern electronics work on very small electrical currents. An EMP produces higher currents than the devices can handle. Electrical components would be burned out and rendered inoperable.
This could potentially cause everything from automobiles to cell phones to even the power grid to shutdown if a large enough detonation was strategically placed in the right location. The Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack compiled for Congress in early 2000 ranked an EMP attack as the number one vulnerability for the United States. Although the probability of an EMP attack being used against US is low compared to say conventional bombs, the effects of that would be far-reaching and would be catastrophic.
The report predicts that there will be a 90% death rate within one year of an attack if an EMP knocked out the power grid. This is because everything that we do from cooking dinner to taking a shower relies on the electrical power grid. If our grid were crippled it would be next to impossible to bring it back on line without help from outside the United States The factories that could produce replacement transformers would not have power to operate. Without electrical power, the flow of gasoline and diesel would soon stop. Without fuel, the trains and trucks that transport food and other goods would be useless.
The United States would be thrown back into a lifestyle of 150 years ago. This is exacerbated by the fact that 100 years ago over 70% of the United States population lived on farms and they produced much of what they consumed. Today, less than 2% of our population lives on a farm. This 2% produces the food for the other 98%. Our farmland would still be there but would not be able to produce the same amount of food.
We rely heavily upon technology to produce and transport the food. Without a way to transport the food to the population centers, our society would grind to a halt. When you turn on the tap water would not flow out of the tap. In early 2010, Boston had a break in its main water line. Within 2 days people were fighting over bottled water. Imagine a life with no heating, no electricity for air conditioning, and no running water. To make matters worse, we would have to relearn the skills people had 200 years ago. A large part of our population would have to relocate to rural areas. It would not be easy to go back to 200 years to the pioneer days. Modern medicine would also disappear. Anyone depending upon any type of medical device or drugs to sustain life, would be the first suffer.
Although the likelihood of this type of attack is relatively small, you can see the results would be devastating. We are highly vulnerable to this type of attack. You may think that the government is prepared for such a thing but they're not. Most government systems are no more hardened against an EMP than the standard, everyday product that you buy. Military systems are also heavily reliant upon the power grid and supplies from external sources such as vendor and companies that produce supplies. They do not have the capability to carry on long-term operations without being resupplied.
There is another threat that would have essentially the same effect. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is essentially a massive solar flare. The sun is entering a state of high activity. A CME has a higher probability than an EMP, but could have the same potential outcome.
Read more about Solar Superstorms and previous Blackouts and make you own decision about this potential threat. Here is another report on this threat and the potential to cause a 2012 Blackout.