In 1962, at 11:00:09 pm local time on July 8th, the United States detonated a thermonuclear warhead riding atop a Thor missile at 400 km above Johnston Island at a distance of 826 miles from Honolulu, Hawaii. That night was one that many on the Hawaii Islands would never forget (Berkhouse, 1962). Operation , as the test was code named by the U.S. military, caused the first damage in the United States from an electromagnetic pulse created by a nuclear detonation. Though the damage was not intended or planned, the 1.4-megaton weapon caused “the failure of street-lighting systems, tripping of circuit breakers, triggering of burglar alarms, and damage to a telecommunications relay facility.” (EMP Commission, 2004, p. 4)
We’ve all heard the conspiracy theories, the conjecture, and the out and out crazy talk that some fear mongers have envisaged for decades. Let us put all the scary thoughts that we’ve ever had nightmares over and discuss the real facts about an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP). With the world so closely tied to its love of all things electronic, can the EMP actually take our civilization from the twenty-first century to the pre-industrial ago so quickly? The evidence will show that this is a grave threat, and needs to be taken by as such.
The United States, as well as the world, is more and more dependent on electronics. Everything around us runs on electricity; from the cars we drive, our dependency on mobile electronics we use, all the way down to the cappuccino machines that make our favorite beverages. We love our electronics. Last year alone “retail sales of consumer electronics fell just short of $1 trillion in 2011,” reports John Laposky of TWICE magazine, and those sales “are predicted to hit $1.04 trillion in 2012” (Laposky, 2012). Likewise, the vehicles we drive have become more technology bases in the last ten years. As Jim Motavalli writes for the New York Times, “Even basic vehicles have at least 30 of these microprocessor-controlled devices, known as electronic control units, and some luxury cars have as many as 100” (Motavalli).
Not only are our portable electronics susceptible to damage, but now the United States economy and business sectors are riding the electrons too. Consumers are getting in on the act as well with daily access to their online banking. From the Federal Trade Commission’s website, “electronic banking means 24-hour access to cash through an automated teller machine (ATM) or Direct Deposit of paychecks into checking or savings accounts.” Mobile banking use has skyrocketed in the recent years as consumers now want access to their money anywhere they go.
Electronics and electricity have replaced humans in many instances. For example, most of our vehicles are produced by robots and computers. We now have computerized farm implements that drive themselves using computers and global positioning systems. Even our electricity is produced using electricity, using computer controls to maintain safety systems...