I'm a Marine, veteran of Oper. Desert Storm and Oper. Just Cause, in Panama. For fifteen years have worked in law enforcement. I am suppose to be a first responder, protecting my community in a time of crisis. A copy of Dr. Forstchen's book "One Second After" came through my department since he lives nearby and reading it, I am deeply shaken. He has hit the target dead on. Early in the book, the day after our nation's power grid is destroyed by an unknown enemy via an EMP strike, a police officer in his story laments that in all the years up to this moment, NOT ONCE had there been a single drill in their department as to what to do in the event of an EMP attack. NOT ONCE. Forstchen hits it dead on and that is why the book disturbs me and I hope is a wake up call to the nation. Since 9/1 1, my fellow officers and I have received hundreds of hours of briefings, drills and instructions as to what to do in the event of any number of scenarios. . . chemical attack, bio, terrorist threats to our schools, and after Katrina closer attention to preparing for natural disasters. But not one hour of training or discussion about EMP which I can see from Forstchen's book is by far the most serious and potentially catastrophic event of all. I hold little hope in the near future of a "top down" approach, of our federal government initiating proper safe guards and procedures to deal with this threat. Maybe it is time that those of us on the ground floor, those of us out there every day protecting our communities and at the same time trying to plan for every emergency that might threaten us, acted directly instead. If you are a police officer, fireman, EMT, any kind of first responder I urge you to read this book the moment you can get your hands on it and start thinking about what you can do locally to prepare. As I read this book I found myself thinking. . .what do I do to better protect the citizens of my community. What can I do now to get the word out to my fellow officers. How easy it would be for us as a group to read the book, and think out our own plan for survival. Just a few hours of such planning, a few hundred dollars invested locally for safe guarded communications gear for example, every officer trained to recognize when we are struck by an EMP and what to do IMMEDIATELY could save hundreds, perhaps thousands of lives in my town. . which is my sworn duty to protect and defend. And frankly there is a very personal side to this as well. In doing my duty I protect my own family as well in case of this nightmare. Forstchen's book is a wake up call to all of us on the "front line." Read the book as soon as you can, get the word out that we can act locally to be prepared, and then pray it never does happen, because if it does, it will be a nightmare. And finally, as you prepare locally, press the issue up the chain of command that we want something done at our state and national level. Starting from the bottom up, rather than waiting for orders from the top down just might help save this country. I'm a bit of a student of World War II. I've talked with guys who fought at the Battle of the Bulge and on D-Day and brother marines who were at Iwo and Okinawa. When all hell broke loose and the chain of command disintegrated, those guys didn't wait for orders from above. They knew their duty and on their own they went out and did their duty, orders or no orders and won the battle. We need to do the same if we want our communities to be ready incase the unthinkable that Forstchen writes about does happen.
I was able to find some suggestions on the actual book site. Relieved to see that I'm not the only one with these concerns. www.onesecondafter.com Just click onto the link, Preparing for EMP Good luck.....
Before I start picking nits with your argument, I just want to say that I admire and respect the dedication and courage of people like yourself, that choose to put yourselves in harm's way to make the rest of us safe.
Now then, consider how extreme an massive EMP incident would be. Essentially, almost all technology would stop working. Many things we take for granted would cease to be available. The nasty results would be endless, but one particular result would kind of dominate: the infrastructure for growing and distributing food would be gone. Almost everybody would starve to death.
How to you prepare for famine on that scale? You can't. Any preparations you make would be inadequate. People like you trying to keep things together would be swamped by hungry mobs.
If the threat of an EMP attack is something we should be worried about, then the first thing we should be thinking about is not how to prepare for the worst case scenario, because that's pointless. The thing to do is to work to *prevent* the worst case scenario. Redesign the power grid so that it's not so vulnerable. Stockpile communication gear that doesn't rely on integrated circuitry. (Amateur radio operators, who never seem to outlive their usefulness, no longer learn morse code; maybe that's a mistake.) Develop a kit for retrofiting cars to use carburetors in place of computerized fuel injectors. And so on.
K9Spark, Marine, thank you for your service. I am in complete agreement with your sentiments. I am not a member of law enforcement, but wonder if I should try to communicate with my local Sheriff? My wife and I are that little family in the book that was prepared, and very well armed. The last thing I want is a mob of hungry folks at my doorstep thinking I have food to distribute. I would gladly assist in defending the local community, but I can not feed them! We live 60 miles from Indianapolis and I hate the thought of pretty much everyone I know starving to death in Indianapolis, but I can't feed them either. I too am a vet. I love this country and I love my local community. That having been said, if I don't feed my own family, and several of my woefully unprepared extended family, I won't be any good to anyone since I'll be starved to death like most others. We are putting a massive fence around our garden to defend against people, not deer because they will be extinct in short order! I've taken the tac of buying lots of these books and passing them onto family members and close friends and neighbors to read.... You can't say too much about preparing for disaster to Americans or they think you are crazy. The few who lived through the depression are almost all gone now, and its been that long since anyone really wanted for anything!
I was amazed that the cult was able to cause as much chaos as it did. In our little community there are plenty of .50's to take those vehicles out a mile away...then they would be all on foot and at the mercy of our snipers. I just can't see the scenario of a large group rolling in unarmored vehicles decimating my community if we are working together. I know where there are hundreds of thousands of rounds and the class III weapons to use them nearby.....I can't imagine any cult overwhelming our local forces. Of course these weapons are surrounded by grain bins full of corn, wheat and beans.....
I agree with the author. If this event ever happens a military force will come and take over the few remaining survivors. I don't think it takes a West Point graduate to see thats the point now isn't it? I would prefer the good folks of America survive to be able to repel the imminent invasion that would end America as we know it.....well, it seems both parties in D.C. have already succeded at that...we've been invaded from within and have lost the cities already when more than half of our citizens think socialism is the way to go. Wake up people, there will be no more grain bins full of wheat under socialism! You socialists, go read your history! Wake up, there is no free lunch!
I'm suspecting the only area where we are able to keep a significant portion of the population alive is the mid-west due to massive grain bins full of food. IF we can keep the golden hordes from the cities from just destroying the food supplies in a typical stupid city dweller panic. And in the mid-west we have to help keep as many people alive as possible to repel the the folks that did this to us in the first place....and, we don't have a lot of time since there will be no fuel to run those tractors....try growing your own food some time and you will see just how much we need diesel in order to have time to do anything other than grow food!!!! We will need new supplies of diesel fuel soon or many of the survivors from year one will starve in year 2!
Every citizen in America needs a shortwave radio protected in an ammo can from EMP so we can know what the heck happend!
I read this book and was as shaken as the Marine police officer. I am delighted others are reading this book and share similar reactions and concerns. So many good suggestions above, and I am wondering if the author has been interviewed yet on all the news programs. Let's give the book and the "heads up" to our family and friends. This is the most probable scenario to take America completely out of the world picture, and I echo the sentiment that we should not only be preparing-both personally and community-wise, but doing all we can nationally to prevent and forestall this catastrophe. Why, in this environment are we not "hardening" our infrastructure and pursuing strategic missile defense with a vengeance. How about letting the world know that any missile launch from anywhere, not approved by the US govt. will result in an interdiction and destruction of the missile either on the pad before launch or in the boost phase? Do we have this capabililty, and, if not, why are we not pursuing it aggresssively? Wake up Washington- stop the pussy willow planting programs and the crony capitalism with its bailouts, and start planning and investing to defend America! Is anyone listening?
I am in the middle of the book. In my reading, I had a basic question about the premise, so I did a little internet research.
This research lead me to Wikipedia which lead me to read a technical report about the effects of EMP.
The report stated that, in testing, cars which were turned OFF during the 'attack' would not be affected AT ALL. And, that running cars were not severely affected, as in they might have problems with lights, etc. This test was done on cars from 1985 to 2002.
I would think that would extend to ANY electronics turned OFF during an attack.
So, yeah, a whole lot would be lost, but it wouldn't be 'quite' as devestating quite so quickly.
Many generators would still work, at least for awhile until there was a gas shortage.
I think the effects were a bit overdone in the book, but it still makes a point, a valid point. When finished, I am quite certain I will be giving the book a 5 star review.
I'm not an expect on this stuff, but from what I know it should matter whether a circuit is in use or not. The damage caused by EMP is a result of the fact that a moving magnetic field induces an electrical current in any conductor it passes. (Most of the electricity you use day-to-day is generated using this same effect.) It doesn't take a lot of electricity to damage modern integrated circuitry (even ordinary static electricity can do it) and it's difficult to see how turning off a system protects from *external* magnetic fields.
Still, I'd be interested in reading this report. Care to share the URL?
Update: I think I've found the report you're referring to. "Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack" available from http://empcommission.org/. I think anybody who cares about this problem needs to read this report.
If so, you got the bit about cars slightly wrong. Turning off the cars did not protect them from damage. In their tests, they subjected the cars to a maximum of EMP field of 50 kV/m. Which was enough to destroy some of the dashboard components, but not enough to take out the fuel injection system. If the motor was running when the pulse hit the car, the car stalled (all those random electrical signals would have messed up the timing) but the car sustained no vital damage and was easily restarted.
Now, how reassuring is this? It all depends on how realistic it is to assume that 50 kV/m is the biggest EMP you might have to deal with. That's the EMP generated by a high-altitude 1-megaton thermonuclear blast. Which is actually the yield of most of the bigger nukes in the U.S. arsenal. There are nukes with a much bigger yield, but they are few, hard to deploy, and only 5 countries (U.S., Russia, U.K., France, China) have the resources to build them. In fact, bombs belonging to other nuclear states, such as India, seem to max out at 50 kilotons -- big enough to kill a lot of people with blast effects and radiation, but not big enough to generate a serious EMP.
So there are two scenarios we have to worry about. One is that somebody figures out how to generate a really big non-nuclear EMP. The other is that somebody manages to steal and deploy a 10+ megaton device from one of the 5 powers capable of building one.
(And no, I don't think we need to worry about an EMP attack from one of those powers. If they're going to engage in aggression of that sort, a regular nuclear attack would be more to the point.)
I don't think either scenario is likely in the near future. The technology isn't even close for a non-nuclear EMP. And while somebody might be able to rip off one of those relatively portable 1-megaton devices, access to a bigger device is more problematic.
Which is not to say we should be sanguine. Our infrastructure is way to vulnerable and needs to be hardened. And of course the kind of emergency preparation K9Spark is advocating is also important. (I'm contradicting my earlier post, which was poorly informed.) But the apocalyptic EMP scenario fiction writers are so fond of doesn't seem to be in the cards
Poor grades or not, you understand one key aspect of science, which is asking the right questions. In this case, your questions made me think through the issue more carefully than I had. Thanks for doing that.
There are a lot of common misconceptions in this discussion. Nuclear weapons are complex devices, and there is little relationship between the high voltages induced in electronics on the ground and the total energy yield of the weapon. The only reason that megaton-class weapons would be useful for EMP is to destroy the large transformers in the electrical power grid by inducing DC-like currents that the transformers can't handle. Smaller nuclear weapons of simpler construction would be more useful for destroying electronics devices.
Automobile electronic ignition systems are used to generate high-voltage sparks, so they have to have a lot of internal protection against high voltages. They also have to be shielded extremely well because otherwise no car radio would be functional in the area of an operating vehicle. If our computers and communications equipment (and the electronics that control the power grid) were shielded and protected from high voltages as well as the typical automobile electronic ignition, then we wouldn't have nearly as much to worry about from EMP. This is not to say that electronic ignition systems are adequately protected against EMP since they are designed without regard to EMP. It is just that, unlike nearly everything else, electronic ignition systems do happen to have some level of protection designed into the system for other reasons.
Also, it does matter very much whether electronics equipment is turned on during an EMP. Often an EMP will cause a momentary breakdown in a transistor or integrated circuit that would be temporary -- except for the fact that the transient breakdown allows the normal power supply of the device to destroy it permanently.
I for one am having serious doubts as to the claims that it is a significant advantage for electronis equipment to be in the "off" state... I can see one advantage being a physical break from line (grid) power in some devices.
However, since most semi conductor junctions fry around 15v (if memory serves....been 20 years), if an EMP induces anything over that amount the junctions should fry correct?
Unless there is a faraday cage protecting the device and it is not connected to external power...then the device is safe. Unless it has been protected or "hardened"... Any comments? I get hundreds of miles from home on any given day and would love for the realities of an EMP to be that my car still works sans stereo....
Explosions don't necessarily generate magnetic fields, but high-altitude nuclear explosions do cause the Earth's magnetic field to move. This generates large DC-like currents in long lines. It doesn't generate high voltages in relatively small devices. The high-voltage component comes from an entirely different mechanism.
The Wikipedia article is currently pretty accurate about this (and it has a lot of external references):
"The E1 component is produced when gamma radiation from the nuclear detonation knocks electrons out of the atoms in the upper atmosphere. The electrons travel in a generally downward direction at relativistic speeds (more than 90 percent of the speed of light). This essentially produces a large pulse of electrical current vertically [in the upper atmosphere] over the entire affected area. This electrical current is acted upon by the Earth's magnetic field to produce a large, but very brief, electromagnetic pulse over the affected area."
"The E3 component of the pulse is a very slow pulse, lasting tens to hundreds of seconds, that is caused by the nuclear detonation heaving the Earth's magnetic field out of the way, followed by the restoration of the magnetic field to its natural place. The E3 component has similarities to a geomagnetic storm caused by a very severe solar flare. Like a geomagnetic storm, E3 can produce geomagnetically induced currents in long electrical conductors, which can then damage components such as power line transformers."
The E1 component can damage electronics whether power is applied or not. It is just that when local power is applied, a marginal breakdown can cause the local power supply to permanently damage a device when it might otherwise spontaneously recover.
I would guess that semiconductor junctions would are a lot more sensitive to voltage now than they were 20 years ago. Recall that the "pitch" of integrated circuits is 20 times smaller in 2009 than it was in 1989. But take a grain of salt: I'm talking way beyond my level of expertise.
I'd encourage you to read the report Red Adept found. When it came to assessing the impact of EMP on cars, they skipped straight over theory and went straight to practice, by exposing cars to actual EMP. And no, they did not observe a protective effect from have the car turned off. That was misreading of the report.
I read the Wikipedia article too. I don't see how it supports your assertion that there's no connection between bomb yield and EMP strength. The paragraph you quote about the E1 component seems to say the exact opposite.
I simply don't understand your last paragraph. How can electrical circuitry "spontaneously recover" from physical damage?
hahahah, yeah, I've been a field engineer for 20 years now with day to day experience with maintenance and repair on high end medical equipment and I can tell you, the only way electronic devices "spontaneously recover" from a problem is if they are software driven and lock up, needing a restart (think that pc you are using). And, I can promise you, any emp and hospital equipment is gone....every spring I lose several systems due to lightning and poor generator sync issues. The power supplies effected range from $400 to $4000, so these are not your el'cheapo $25 PC power supplies and they are still toast with itsy bitsy line surge (like maybe 250v, which is nothing compared to what an emp would likely induce on the grid)
I would love for an expert to chime in here....my degree is Electronics and I spent time in Comm for the US Navy, but that hardly qualifies me in this particular aspect. I will say, that depending upon the area of the frequency spectrum the emp is focused on would decide which items are destroyed...since the wiring connected to devices would act as an antenna and channel the emp energy into the device (think your am/fm radio...the very small signal is picked up by the antenna...but any piece of wire the proper length compared to the wavelength of the emp frequency will pick up the large emp "signal" as well).
And, as I think about cars more, the ignitian system....I could see surviving...I think what folks are not thinking about is the computer that runs the whole mess...hell, I've had one behind the glovebox and another in the engine compartment shielded by PLASTIC. DOOMED those boards are. I am thinking it would take extensive modification of a modern car to bypass the failed pc board that runs and controls the timing etc....
Would love the hear from a pro mechanic as well! Chime in!
I'm thinking we would have complete economic armegeddon if just 1/2 the vehicles suddenly died, much less a larger number.
Also, Isaac, I read a report given to congress which stated something to the effect that yield is NOT proportionate to the emp damage. I am guessing they are talking about Neutron type weapons, but hey, as I said, I'm no expert, hell, I wouldn't even consider myself knowledgeable.
The report said that some extremely low yield weapons could provide an emp far surpassing some of the massive yield weapons.
While folks may feel this is a "remote" likelyhood event, that doesn't mean we shouldn't be ready. I'd hardly consider solar flares an "unlikely" event....what if the sun starts getting all whacky on us? Sucks to be us if we haven't prepped at all.
I'm fascinated by the on going discussion here and hope it continues. Just to throw in a few points (and remember my Ph.D. is in History, not Electrical Engineering!). I was told that the test in question, using autos, did not "jack up" the disturbance "lay down" per square meter to what might be the higher levels of a potential EMP strike. This was unclassified information shared with me at a recent conference. There are many in the field that are asking for just that, a pushing up of the energy to see at what level nearly all cars do burn out. That test has not yet been done (at least as far as we who do not have security clearances know about!) Second, the comment about weapon burst size and actually a reverse correlation as to the creation of an EMP-1 event is correct. Higher yield weapons trigger such a wide burst area in that first millionth of a second that it actually interupts the EMP-1 impact. It is the lower yield fission weapons in the 40-60k range that are seen as the real threat. Please don't ask me to explain the physics, again this is unclassified information that was shared with me while working on the book. Add together our lack of true testing, the fact that lower yield weapons are the bigger danger, combine that with North Korea and Iran. . .and you see why I wrote the book.
Please continue the conversation here. It is very interesting to follow!
Based on my understanding of the types of devices, small (relatively) yield fission burst nuclear devices are best for producing the fast E1 component of an EMP, like you have mentioned. Thermonuclear fusion based bombs operate in two stages, and the first stage ionizes the atmosphere in such a way as to generate a far smaller E1 pulse when the second stage causes the explosion. However, a large thermonuclear devices displace more of the Earth's magnetic field, and creates a much larger E3 geomagnetic storm which can cause large scale damage to power generation equipment.
The tricky thing with the E1 pulse is that it will create spontaneous current within an unshielded device that is not attached to the electrical grid, turned on or not. If a device was isolated in a small Faraday box (which you can make yourself using aluminum foil), it would likely be unharmed, but if it were plugged into the grid, the plug wire would act as an antenna and fry the device. As a side note, this company makes surge protectors that operate using a silicon based technology that will protect devices from an E1 event: http://www.advancedsuppression.com/index.html. Provided the devices work as described you could still have it plugged into the grid and as long the device was shielded should continue operation.
Automobiles' metal exteriors may act as a Faraday cage, and this may protect some of their interior circuitry. You could use grounding straps to increase your chances.
Interesting about the kit for the cars. We will soon have a new generation of cars coming out with the advent of the electric car. Now would be the time for the companies to design them to be "hardened". It should be built in from the begining as a standard.
I am 20 year retired USAF and a CBR shelter manager that dealt with the concept of impending nuke attacks. EMP is a definite part of any attack. Also the possibility of a Solar Storm event. Thank goodness the Neutron Bomb was never developed to my knowledge. Neutron Bomb: High yeild radiation with a short half life to leave all infrastructure, but destroy all life. In regards to your answer. First, in the mid 1990's, Congress was approcached by NASA and other scientists recommending that they appropriate the money to protect out power grids. At the time it was a lot of money and they refused. One of the major tranformers takes about one year to build, and to make things worse, the U.S. does not manufacture them anymore. The EMP pulse is a low yeild nuke exploded at high altitude, for maximum coverage. To me that is not what we need to worry about. Remember Faridays (spelling might be off) Grid for future reference and protection of electrical items. In The last 20 years the world has been hit with a couple of gamma bursts from the Sun. That is what most should worry about today with the electronic and computer chip world we now live in. One bust shut down all of eastern Canada. Google, "Surviving a Solar Storm", this will tell you how you can minimize the damage to some extent. You will find a Gamma Burst from the Sun that hit the Earth about 1860 or so. It was so massive that it only took about 45 min. to reach earth, when a normal gamma burst from the sun usually takes about 2 1/2 hours. That Burst fried almost all telegraph and electrical (what there was of electrical) items in the U.S. We are now leaving a meander minimum of solar activity, and entering into a Solar maximum activity, starting, Ya, you guessed it, in 2012. Two items I have been told and read. #1. If you have two cars, get battery cable quick connects, and keep one car always disconected, plus pound a metal steak in the ground and run a chain from the frame to the ground. Have extra gas on had, putting stabil in it every six months. You won't be able to get gas because it is all run by computer chips. (Oh, get maps of your areas, GPS would be gone). #2. During times of forecasted high solar storm activity, when you leave home for town for a day or so, just turn of your main breaker in your house. #3. You can always get an 1800 watt Solar powered generator, that you can add batteries to, and a wind mill if needed, wish I could afford one. But do not use it unless it happens. Also, if warning comes about a major solar storm and gamma burst, get as much dirt, cement, or objects between you, your loved ones and the coming burst. After all it is Gamma Radiation. Stock pile food and grow your own gardens. If it happens you will be happy and can help others to an extent, it not you have the comfort of being ready for any disaster. Once you have the amount of supplies in food, toiletries, medical items, etc. on hand. Then as you use them, you just replace them. Better to be ready than not. Remember Katrina and other major disasters. Later, Popcorn