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An Introduction to EMP

Since starting work on the survivalist IPTV Channel Prepare Now TV, I have been studying the subject matter of EMP which is "Electro Magnetic Pulse"EMP and HEMP which is "High Altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse".

I'm writing another book on EMP dangers and am going to be providing excerpts throughout my blog so stay tuned. Below is a sampling of the new book:

An Introduction to EMP

Few people truly understand the dangers of an EMP attack. In fact, few people even know what an EMP is. Ask your typical man on the street what an EMP is you are likely to get a large degree of varying answers ranging from blank stares to descriptions of something lurking “out there” that would levy destruction similar to that of a hurricane.

The fact is, EMP attacks pose the greatest and most probable threat the western world has ever known since any nation or extremist faction with nuclear capability can produce an EMP bomb. Further, the effects of an EMP are far worse, longer lasting and more widespread than most people realize.

What is an EMP vs a HEMP?

An EMP is an Electro Magnetic Pulse. An EMP can occur from many different sources: solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high speed solar winds can cause EMP pulses on both large or small scales. These have the potential to harmfully effect the power grid. A great example of an EMP event was the Carrington Event.

On September 1st and 2nd of 1859, a solar storm sent a wave of geomagnetic energy into Earth’s atmosphere; as a result, most telegraph lines in North American and Europe ceased working. This was the largest solar event to affect Earth to date. The event was documented in detail by astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson.

EMP events caused by weather alone should be concerning enough make us prepare our electrical grids. But perhaps the most alarming EMP threat is from man-made weapons.

A HEMP is a “High Altitude Electro Magnetic Pulse”. A HEMP is a different and far more devastating threat caused by the purposeful detonation of a nuclear weapon above the particular region of the earth’s atmosphere known as stratosphere. The stratosphere is in a range from 8 to 30 miles high above the earth.

When a nuclear detonation occurs above this area, a portion of the total energy is released as gamma rays. These gamma rays drift down and collide with air molecules in the upper stratosphere and strip them of their electrons resulting in a strong electrical current that charges the air. This electric field causes the surrounding air to separate into positive ions and electrons and the air becomes ionized. This ionized air is much more conductive than the previous air.

The gamma rays further drift down into the middle stratosphere and collide with air molecules producing an increase in their wavelength; this is called the Compton Effect. The resulting ionized electrons are called Compton Electrons. These fast-moving, negatively charged electrons travel toward the surface of the earth and produce a powerful current - in excess of a million electrical volts.

This “Compton Current” now interacts with the earth’s magnetic field, causing it to briefly spike an extremely strong electro-magnetic pulse down to the surface of the planet. This pulse is known as an EMP. The resulting EMP transfers its energy into electrical networks, coupling into any conductive objects in the target area. Power lines, communications lines, power stations, equipment, copper networks, pipelines and computer network cables will all be affected. Even your home power cords and small micro-electronic circuits will be brought down. These electronics do not come back on, they are now damaged beyond repair.

What makes a HEMP so disastrous is our current reliance on micro-electronics and imports. The massive voltages produced easily overload most every type of electronic device that we have become dependent upon in our inter-connected, modern world. Everything would instantly go dark and our comfortable lives would be plunged into complete and utter chaos.

Can an EMP hurt me?

EMP and HEMP cannot inflict direct damage to the body. Because it is detonated at such a high altitude, there would be no impact shock or damage to the human electrical systems. Some on the internet say an EMP blast could destroy cardiac pacemakers. Yet the U.S. Military tested this in 1991 and concluded that EMP attacks are unlikely to disrupt pacemakers.

Of course, the large-scale damage caused by an EMP event could jeopardize the health of many, as starvation, disease and pestilence would soon follow.

What will an EMP look like?

All you might see is a brief flash of light in the sky so faint that you might even miss it. At night time you might see a flash, followed by a faint lingering glow. It is likely that most citizens won’t even be aware that an EMP has struck and think that is was just a power surge that has knocked the power out for an extraordinarily long time. It won’t be until the water, power and all other systems have been down for weeks or months for people to recognize what it was, by then it is too late; the grocery shelves have all been raided and without food or water, people will flee. They most likely will flee on foot, but if they have an antique car they may go as far as a tank of gas will get them, looking for refuge, but there will be none.

How would it be Launched?

It is not as difficult to cause a HEMP as one might imagine. There are many ways to deliver the package. A small nuclear warhead placed onboard a Weather Satellite could be detonated as it passes overhead; or someone within our own borders could readily launch an armed weather balloon. Weather balloons generally reach altitudes between 11 to 23 miles above the earth which falls well within the range of a HEMP attack. Enemy nations have been experimenting with launching ballistic missiles off of cargo ships. A medium range ballistic missile launch from about 150 miles offshore or just outside our territorial waters would do the trick. Jet aircraft that are modified to fly at high altitudes can directly drop a HEMP weapon.

A HEMP does not require surgical precision in order to be effective and wreak havoc upon a nation. A wide general area could be designated as the target stretch and when detonated cause devastating harm. An EMP attack by a high-altitude nuclear explosion is a distinct possibility. All that’s needed is a single nuclear warhead – one that doesn’t even require the capability to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

The ideal altitude to detonate a nuke would be in the upper stratosphere between 40- 400 km above the earth. A lower explosion would cause some minor EMP damage for a few hundred square miles. Localized EMP attacks are meant to disrupt electric systems within a small radius. The targeted area can be a few miles around, such as a military compound. But this would be nowhere near the impact of a full HEMP which could desolate the entire country. Large-scale HEMP attacks are meant to disrupt power grids and electronics across a large area of land. They can affect up to 1000 miles radius from center of impact.

Since our electrical infrastructure is so tightly interconnected, an attack on such a large area could potentially end the electrical access of an entire continent. There is only one weapon capable of inflicting such a large-scale EMP attack: a high-altitude nuclear explosion.

HEMP radiation once paired with conductors can fry all electronics from the smallest microelectronics such as those found in radios cell phones, fax machines, camcorders, stereo players, televisions, microwave ovens and calculators all the way to the largest high voltage transformers powering the electrical grid.

Are you Prepared?

If you think that an EMP event is like a hurricane or tornado where the power goes out for a couple of weeks and is soon restored, think again. The damage caused by EMPs has been studied by the military since the 1960s and experts estimate that it would take a minimum of two years and possibly up to four years to fully restore the grid. And it could all happen without warning, in the blink of an eye.

The effects of a HEMP will cause permanent damage to so many things we take for granted today, all of our major infrastructures such as water, power, sewer, internet, telephone, natural gas, gasoline and transportation systems would come to a complete standstill. Some of these systems would be restored quicker than others and some would require extensive repairs taking many years to complete. Although military infrastructure may have adequate protection, federal agencies have largely failed to protect the electrical grids used by ordinary citizens.

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