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The Military Technology

Expert Warns: Civilian World Not Ready For Massive EMP-Caused Blackout 271

schwit1 (797399) writes "An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices. In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That's the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid. 'If you do a smart plan — the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that you could protect the whole country for about $2 billion,' Peter Vincent Pry, executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, told Watchdog.org. 'That's what we give away in foreign aid to Pakistan every year.' He said the more officials plan, the lower the estimated cost gets. 'The problem is not the technology,' Pry said. 'We know how to protect against it. It's not the money, it doesn't cost that much. The problem is the politics. It always seems to be the politics that gets in the way.'"
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Expert Warns: Civilian World Not Ready For Massive EMP-Caused Blackout

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  • by Barny ( 103770 ) <bakadamage-slashdot@yahoo.com> on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:23AM (#46805233) Journal

    Well, to be fair, at this point a link to the onion would enhance the credibility of the article.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:28AM (#46805289)
    "We aren’t the audience for this level of reporting."

    Slashdot isn't what it used to be. This site has become total shit over the years.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:46AM (#46805483)

    This will be the epitaph of our civilization.

  • by feedayeen ( 1322473 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:49AM (#46805527)

    The people who die in the first few minutes are going to be those who's lives are dependent on technology. That's list contains almost exclusively those in planes and those dependent on medical devices. How's a power grid update going to protect those people? Hospitals already have backup generators and you can't do anything about fried equipment.

  • How Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @10:49AM (#46805529)
    TFA is kinda small on any details, but what do you expect from Fox News. How exactly does 2 Billion "protect" everyone from an EMP weapon? Have we found something as good a what we currently use, but won't break? Old Vacuum tubes are a nice protection against a system that could go down, but you never want it to go down. You can't really use the good vacuum tubes ether so you're stuck in 1940's tech for a lot of stuff. How exactly does this 2 Billion stop the pace makers from breaking, the planes from falling, and every hospital patient from dying in those few initial hours. That money might help for long term protection by setting up a process to recover from such an event, but I don't really see anything that says it will protect us from the massive initial death toll.
  • Re:One word: FUD (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:05AM (#46805699) Homepage Journal

    And why would trucks stop coming into the city?
    Oh, right becasue idiots think an EMP would stop most vehicles from running.
    Next time you tin foil hat friends mention it, be sure to inform them that only 3% would ahve any effect at all, and only a smalle number of those would lead to a situation where a crash could occur.

    So, basically, we would be in 1910 for about a month, then 1920, within a year everyone would have power again.

    Would people die? yes/ Would civilization collapse? no. The internet would be running at some capacity through the whole thing.

    The biggest risk is that all these ignorant survivalist cause people to panic becasue of all the FUD that have been spreading.

    http://www.empcommission.org/d... [empcommission.org]

    Of course, this also mean it would need to be strong enough to impact that entire continent; which one could be, coming form the Sun.

  • by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:29AM (#46805985)

    Reading summary: this seems pretty stupid and a little fear-mongery for slashdot.

    Click link: Fox news, figures. Usual shit reporting and lack of detail. Obamacare not mentioned anywhere in article.

    Click link in article to watchdog.org: not much more detail, more zomg fear crap, still no mention of obamacare.

    Read comments on watchdog.org: ok, I’m out

    Not saying there isn’t something to talk about here, but linking to fox news for this kind of topic is like linking to a local news report on heartbleed. We aren’t the audience for this level of reporting.

    So you repeatedly looked for "Obamacare" information in a story about the dangers to infrastructure posed by EMP? (And that is modded "informative"?!?!) Yes, I'll agree with your assessment that you "...aren’t the audience for this level of reporting." You don't seem to be up to that level. On top of that your post isn't really anything other than an anti-Fox News troll.

    There is plenty of fodder in those stories for good discussion by anyone that is interested. You apparently aren't.

    Experts: Civilians not ready for EMP-caused blackout [watchdog.org]

    On multiple occasions during the past 155 years, large enough CME’s have disrupted electrical systems on Earth. One of the largest recorded solar flares happened in 1859. The CME, called the Carrington Event, disrupted telegraph systems in Europe and North America, and lit up the evening sky.

    A solar flare in 1989 caused a blackout in Quebec that lasted more than nine hours, and systems as far away as New Jersey were also damaged. In 2013, Space.com ranked the solar storm that caused the blackout as the fourth worst in history.

    Space.com ranked a solar storm in December 2006 as the worst, and U.S. government officials reported that the event disrupted satellite communications and GPS signals for about 10 minutes and damaged the satellite that took the picture of the storm.

    A joint study published in 2013 by researchers at Lloyd’s of London and Atmospheric and Environmental Research found that a similar event today would cost the world economy $2.3 trillion.

    Risk of another Carrington-class solar flare is expected to peak by early 2015. In the summer of 2012, Earth narrowly missed one estimated to have been more powerful than the Carrington Event and 35 times the size of Earth.

  • by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Monday April 21, 2014 @11:59AM (#46806313)

    I would presume parent is making jest of the excessively biased Fox News and the somewhat biased Watchdog News. Usually they try to at least work in a halfhearted jab against Obama. I too was waiting for the "and here is why Obama is to blame" punchline as soon as I saw the source of the article.

    Anyway, I agree with other posters. This article is aimed at stirring up fear within their demographic, not technical discussion. If you drill down far enough there is a much better article that probably should have been directly linked.

  • by Kamiza Ikioi ( 893310 ) on Monday April 21, 2014 @12:40PM (#46806689)

    We're not ready for a massive EMP... or a 500 mile high Tsunami... or Giant radioactive lizards that breath fire. I love the quote though, "In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die." Well, if we're talking about an EMP that could take out the entire US including airspace, that might be true of planes falling from the sky and trains running off the rails. But that scenario isn't even remotely plausible outside total nuclear annihilation. Further, Hurrican Katrina showed that even an EMP hitting a major city is really nothing more than a power outage. Flooding happens to be the most dangerous natural disaster in reach of major cities (short of Hawaii blowing up or California splitting in half). Unless the results of an EMP are dams breaking in some Superman: The Movie kind of way, we wouldn't even see a Katrina level disaster.

    Frankly, I could care less about an EMP. Any number of computer viruses could disable more machines than an EMP. And a radioactive dirty bomb is a real threat to life for decades. Any terrorist that could cause an explosion capable of triggering a sufficiently large EMP would find that the bomb itself would be more useful against a soft civilian target. An EMP is just flat out impractical for a terrorist, who prefers simple and direct and terrifying.

    On the other hand, if we're worried about a bad actor like North Korea, I believe such an EMP that could hit multiple US cities at once would trigger a nuclear response from the US. What are we going to do, waste resources wrapping electronics in shielding for... an unwarranted fear? And $2 Billion sounds desperately low. It's like the TSA, only even more incredibly useless.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton