EMP vs. Nuclear Blast Effects

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How is the threat of an EMP any worse than the threat of nuclear war as it was previously imagined? I can think of four reasons to think so. First, one can always hope to escape the lethal effects of nuclear weapons, if it is just a matter of blast effects. The Soviets might not waste bombs on a state like Oregon, where I live. Yet an electromagnetic pulse could strike the entire country. It is much more likely you would be affected than it used to be.

A second reason is that a poor country such as North Korea, Iran, or Pakistan was unlikely to be much of a threat to the US as a whole, since it couldn’t have many nuclear weapons. Now, one EMP blast outside the atmosphere could wreck the whole country. Since there are many small countries and terrorist groups that dislike the US, this makes an attack much more likely than it used to be. Adding to this increased likelihood is the fact that the Soviets knew that after a first strike, they would suffer a counterattack. In contrast, it is likely that an EMP attack would be by an unknown actor, so the punishment for a first strike no longer exists.

A third reason is that a nuclear war as conventionally conceived kills quickly, whereas an EMP kills primarily by starvation. So instead of dying in a blast, you are likely to suffer for a long time and perhaps be killed by your next door neighbor. Instead of neighbors helping one another and sharing canned food left behind by the many who are dead, you are left with the same amount of food but many more hungry people. With an EMP, you have reason not to cooperate with your neighbor.

In an EMP attack, all the millions of people from cities will erupt into the countryside, stripping the seed bins that are needed to plant the next crop. This ends up killing even the farmers, who might have survived a conventional nuclear war. So a fourth reason is that whereas a conventional nuclear war might kill 70% of the population, an EMP attack might kill 90%.

So an EMP is worse than a conventional nuclear war because it is more likely both to occur and to kill you if it does. Moreover, it sets people against one another, so our traditional strength as a species – teamwork – is subverted. In fact, teamwork of the wrong sort could kill even more, if for example inadequate food is evenly divided among everyone. It reminds me of the way Native Americans dealt with disease; they gathered around the sick person’s bed, showing support but unfortunately condemning themselves to the same disease.

It is always dangerous to avoid facing reality, and I fear we as a country may have already gone beyond saving. If tomorrow we decide to harden our infrastructure, it would take years to actually do so, and our enemies could easily take us out before we are ready.

4 thoughts on “EMP vs. Nuclear Blast Effects

  1. Just desire to say your article is as surprising. The clearness on your publish is simply nice and i can suppose you’re knowledgeable on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to stay updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  2. I’d have to guess we are all fucked,if in fact either an EMP device (man made) or a naturally occurring pulse from the Sun should shut down our
    national power grid. Like the article said,this would be an opportune time
    for the psychopaths amongst us to thrive.I keep at least a year’s supply
    of grains and legumes on hand always.Normally I have 40 gallons of
    purified water,with a top quality water purifying device on hand .
    It is just a crippled old 60+ y/o man and his dog.But people will do
    anything to survive including betray a friendship or family too.

  3. Frightening subject. How will FEMA respond after an emp attack, will they be of any help? I cannot find any information on FEMA preparedness.

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