It's easy to take electricity for granted if only because it's everywhere. But that's precisely why we shouldn't -- especially as an EMP attack looms, threatening to destroy modern American civilization with one nuclear explosion. An EMP, short for Electromagnetic Pulse, could take down several critical systems that are interdependent on each other, setting in motion a catastrophic chain of events that can lead to anarchy. Experts have studied the possible effects of an EMP on American society, publishing them in the Report of the Commission to Asses the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. They said that the dependence of U.S. society on electrical power makes it particularly vulnerable to the "catastrophic consequences" of an EMP attack.
According to the report, an EMP attack can destroy nine infrastructures that are vital to the functioning of U.S society. These are:
Electric power -- The report said that "essentially every aspect of American society requires electrical power to function." The loss of electric power could then make it impossible to perform even the most basic everyday tasks, especially since all the other infrastructures rely on electricity to run. According to the experts, the collapse of electric infrastructures essentially means most machines will stop working, resulting in the restriction of transportation and communication, limited heating, cooling and lighting, and the interruption of food and water supplies.
Telecommunications --Being able to communicate with others is important especially in an emergency situation, but an EMP will make this extremely difficult. As the report pointed out, electronic systems such as circuit boards and cable connections are a major part of the civilian telecommunication network. This means that in the event of an EMP, cellphones, landlines, and the internet will be rendered virtually useless.
Banking and finance -- Most financial transactions are now done electronically -- from depositing and withdrawing money to trading stocks. An EMP could very well bring the U.S. economy to a standstill. Financial data will be difficult to retrieve and transactions will no longer be possible; people will not have cash on hand to pay for necessities.
Petroleum and natural gas -- An EMP could halt the production of petroleum, oil, and other natural gases, causing a domino collapse on other systems that need petrol and gas to function. Transportation systems could go down, while manufacturing and production systems could also be affected.
Transportation infrastructure --Automobiles, airplanes, trains, and maritime transport are all reliant on electronic systems to keep operating. An EMP attack could damage cars, make it unsafe for airplanes to fly and land, disrupt port operations, and shut down railroads.
Food infrastructure --The food supply chain will inevitably be disrupted by an EMP attack. Cleaning, sorting, and packaging, and even distributing food all require electricity. Supermarkets have a limited supply, and in the aftermath of an EMP, they will certainly not be able to replenish their stocks, making food scarce. As a result, hoarding and hunger will become more common, and could cause crime rates to spike.
Water infrastructure --Water delivery and filtration systems all rely on electrical machinery. If an EMP happens, water for drinking and other purposes may become limited, causing dehydration, deterioration, and even death.
Emergency services -- In an EMP strike, emergency services such as fire control, law enforcement, and rescue and emergency medical services could ironically be cut off at a time when they are more necessary than ever.
Space Systems -- While the direct effects of an EMP on satellites are debatable, the ground systems communicating with those satellites will undoubtedly be seriously compromised. This means that there is no way to receive the potentially important information recorded by those satellites.
Prepare for an EMP
Experts have warned that the disruption of communication between people and the government in the event of an EMP could make the catastrophe even worse, and survival even more difficult for civilians. This makes preparation even more important. Keeping an emergency bag ready in case of an EMP can secure people against its disastrous repercussions.