Computers and the micro-circuitry present in most electric powered devises have made us vulnerable to naturally occurring solar storms, as well as to man-made Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack created by the detonation of a nuclear device in the atmosphere.
NASA predicts that 2012-13 will bring an increase in the number and severity of solar events. In addition, current affairs such as rogue nations (North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran) gaining nuclear capability, makes an EMP event increasingly possible. Though the likelihood of such a disaster is hotly debated, awareness and preparation is only prudent.
Since the beginning of 2012 we have had many solar flare events, fortunately all have brought only minor effects. However, since more solar events are predicted by NASA for the months ahead, and the magnitude of these events is impossible to predict, we recommend awareness, and taking the simple steps recommended in this post to mitigate the effects on your family.
In regard to an EMP attack by terrorists, this is unlikely due to the sophistication of the technology required. However, it is possible, especially if the perpetrator receives assistance from Russian or North Korean scientists. Further, it has been widely circulated by the mainstream media that a number of suitcase-size nukes are missing from the arsenals of the former Soviet Union.
The novel “One Second After” by William R. Forstchen, has brought new awareness to this potential threat. However, though the effects of the incident as presented by the author are based on solid science, the negative social consequences would probably be much more severe than that which is depicted in the story.
Click on this link to download a copy of the information-packed official 2008 U.S. Government report assessing the threat of an EMP attack on the United States (declassified version): EMP-Commission-Report-Critical_Natl_Infrastructures
Though a high-altitude EMP attack may not kill or cause life-ending contamination, an EMP incident would nevertheless be catastrophic in effect. Further, since the devastation would be isolated to electrical devices, a rogue-nation perpetrator might find this type of attack preferable. The backlash of such an attack by the world would be far less as there would be little risk of a nuclear cloud forming that would contaminate other nations, and there would be no pictures of gruesome deaths broadcast on television.
Though the cause is different between a solar event and an EMP attack, the effect of both the natural event and the terrorist attack can be similar. With both causes, microcircuitry is overloaded causing electrical devices to fail. As with most disaster events, the magnitude may be minor or extreme in effect.
Solar events are not new. What makes this situation potentially serious now is due to our advances in science. The miniaturization and the increased energy efficiency of our modern electronics create a new level of vulnerability that we have never before seen—a vulnerability which is magnified by our ever-increasing dependence on these tools.
Our computers and electronic devices now run on very small amounts of voltage. This is wonderful from the power-saving and operational perspectives, but there is a huge downside. These benefits also bring the unintended consequence of making us more vulnerable. And this vulnerability comes at a time when we are completely dependent on technology for business, shopping, communications, light, heat/cooling, and most other aspects of our modern life.
Though we routinely add “surge protectors” to our expensive televisions and computer equipment, these protective measures are wholly inadequate for both solar and EMP events. The electrical pulse generated by these threats travels far too fast.
It is extremely unlikely that a solar event would create any direct risk to human life, or even be noticed by us, except through its effect on our electrical devices. The risk to be contemplated is that a high-speed surge of power through the atmosphere will bring with it the potential to short-circuit (“fry”) most of our electrical devices. In some cases the damaged parts might be repaired, but if all replacement parts are also damaged by the event, along with the manufacturing plants which make these parts, the result could easily be years of doing without. The social and economic effect would obviously be devastating.
This risk is well-known in government and military circles, and steps have been taken to shield critical military equipment against these disruptions. Unfortunately, due to cost and laxity, civilian power systems and consumer electronics remain vulnerable.
Importantly, NASA predicts that 2012 will be a year with many solar events, including some with high electrical output. Therefore, this potential problem must be recognized by anyone who is interested in preparing for the effects of a disaster.
The ramifications of such an event may be minimal or major, isolated or nationwide. It may be limited to minor disruptions such as the failure of some consumer electronics such as cell phones. Or, it might result in the failure of our national power grid and all electrical systems. A major event (solar or EMP) would cause widespread computer equipment failure, plus the loss of most devices and pieces of equipment which use electrical or battery power. This will include vehicles manufactured within the last 35-years, and any piece of equipment which uses microcircuitry.
Recent history has taught us that when infrastructure fails, combined with the loss of communication (television, radio, telephones, cell phones, etc.), that social panic will quickly ensue. With this potential in mind, preparations should include shielding of personally-owned emergency radio and power generation equipment, and also standard off-grid preparations including those appropriate for social unrest.
With this possibility in mind, it is important to understand the basics of these risks so that we can recognize what is happening if such an event occurs, and to learn how to prepare so that we can mitigate the effects on us, personally.
Though the likelihood of a catastrophic event is minimal, if it does occur the effect will be devastating. Even a minor event could trigger social unrest. Therefore, it is only prudent to engage in the simple and inexpensive preventative steps explained below, to provide protection and preparation.
Below you will find some helpful information from NASA, plus an article from Future Science (republished here with permission). These will form a primer on this subject to help you begin the process of effective preparations for these types of events.
A NASA-funded study describes how extreme solar eruptions could have severe consequences for communications, power grids and other technology on Earth. The National Academy of Sciences study provides some of the first clear economic data. Extreme space weather events are rare and are categorized with other natural hazards that have a low frequency but high consequences. Whereas a human caused EMP event, perhaps as the result of a terrorist attack, would almost certainly have catastrophic effects.
As explained in the NASA report: “Whether it is terrestrial catastrophes [such as EMP] or extreme space weather incidents, the results can be devastating to modern societies that depend in a myriad of ways on advanced technological systems,” said Baker. “We were delighted that NASA helped support bringing together dozens of world experts from industry and government to share their experiences and begin planning of improved public policy strategies.”
The NASA report explains: “Space weather can produce solar storm electromagnetic fields that induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines, causing wide-spread blackouts and affecting communication cables that support the Internet. Severe space weather also produces solar energetic particles and the dislocation of the Earth’s radiation belts, which can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning and weather forecasting. Space weather has been recognized as causing problems with new technology since the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. “ [Modern electrical systems and electronic devices are far more susceptible due to their design for low power consumption].
Click here EMP-Getting_Prepared_for_an_EMP_Attack-Emanuelson to download a copy of the article: Getting Prepared for an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack or Severe Solar Storm. Permission was granted to http://www.TXRFA.org and http://www.36Ready.org to reproduce and provide this informative article.
 Official NASA Article: NASA-Funded Study Reveals Hazards of Severe Space Weather, http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/spaceweather_hazard.html