Thursday, March 28, 2019

We're finally going to take EMP seriouosly, and that's a bad thing

On March 26, President Trump issued an Executive Order regarding the resilience of our infrastructure in the event of an EMP. Reading this article at Ars Technica has me wondering how some people can convince themselves that it's safer with their heads in the sand (or elsewhere) than it is to actually acknowledge the existence of a threat, remote or not.

Why the author can acknowledge the effects of Starfish Prime and the Carrington Event of 1859 then rely of decade plus old sorta-science to conclude that this is some sort of over-blown concern evades me. Oh, it's because one estimate (estimate, mind you), that up to 90% of the population could die within a year of an EMP attack, is included the book One Second After

I've done a little Intertubz digging and have found this testimony to the US House of Representatives in 2008, which predates the 2009 publication of the book. Footnote 8 in this document reads:

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, “Whistling Past The Graveyard…” High Frontier (September 20, 2016) See also: On up to 90% U.S. fatalities from an EMP attack, during a congressional hearing, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett asked me if such high fatalities could result, and I responded: “We don’t have experience with losing the infrastructure in a country with 300 million people, most of whom don’t live in a way that provides for their own food and other needs. We can go back to an era when people did live like that. That would be—10 percent would be 30 million people, and that is probably the range where we could survive as a basically rural economy.” U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, “Threat Posed By Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack” Committee on Armed Services (Washington, D.C.: July 10,
2008), p. 9. 

Could the ambassador have seen a pre-release copy of the book, or seen/heard an interview with the author in which that number was quoted? Absolutely. But it seems to me that he wouldn't trot that number out in this sort of testimony unless it came from somewhere else more authoritative.

Unfortunately, further poking about doesn't come up with anything, authoritative or not, on the actual source of the estimate. I may or may not poke around more when I have more time and see if it's traceable on the Intertubz.

But in the meantime, I'm not going to ignore this or any other threat simply because someone else poo-poos it. It's easy enough to incorporate into my preps and costs me nothing in dollar terms that I haven't already spent. There are various places on the Intertubz that have information, with this one by Jerry Emanuelson, who holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, being my go-to.