‘For the Record’: Understanding the Threat of EMP

An Electromagnetic Pulse attack could result in the greatest loss of life in human history, but most people have never heard of an EMP.

An EMP can be triggered by detonating a nuclear warhead above the earth’s atmosphere, which would release a pulse of energy that could destroy electrical grids and electronics such as cell phones and computers over a thousand-mile radius.

“What happens when, when the grid comes down, is there are surges of electricity that blow the big transformers,” Roscoe Bartlett, a former member of the House of Representatives who spearheaded the creation of a Congressional EMP Commission, said. “The estimate is that we could lose somewhere between 100 and 200 of those; that means that the grid would be down for a year or more.”

The Congressional EMP Commission reported that after such an attack Americans would face starvation, a lack of clean water, disease and eventually societal unrest. The commission estimated that 90 percent of the U.S. population would die within a year — nearly 300 million people.

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