EMP (ugh)

I don’t recall having worked on this here before. The Global Security Newswire  posted an article ‘Pentagon Studying How Satellites May Be Affected by Electromagnetic Pulse’ here. The study is to learn about how low earth orbit satellites could be impacted by and EMP. The article and, from the sound of it, the study are worthwhile and reasonable.

Operation Dominic Starfish-Prime nuclear test from plane.jpg
EMP doesn’t tend to bring out reasonable. See: ‘One Second After‘, or Heritage on the subject, or Newt.

on the other side of the ledger

The Atlantic has a very nice article about why things aren’t quite so scary. Arms control wonk has also taken this up a couple of times. here and here.

Two things are disturb me about EMP threat inflation. The first is that the studies thus far have a pretty wide range of possibilities from best to worst case. The Science doesn’t seem to support the hysteria.  Second is regarding the scenarios. The idea of terrorists carrying out such an attack is terribly far fetched.* Perhaps worse to me is the idea that without electricity the US would immediately revert to the dark ages or some post apocalyptic murder hellscape. While this fits nicely with some narrative that ‘everyone else is unprepared’  and ‘kids these days don’t know how to… like when I was a boy’ they are not so much supported by evidence.

These are fine for paperback fiction I am however discouraged when I hear lawmakers repeating these things.





*Unless this is some deep game to convince terrorist groups that they’d be much better off if they used the nuclear warhead and missile that they somehow acquired against the atmosphere than say a city…

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