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Got Power? The Blackout That Doesn’t End; Science Fiction or Realistic Threat?

(Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As I write this, using my computer, my clothes dryer is running, my oven is baking a pie, my daughter’s listening to tunes on her iPod, and my furnace just kicked in for another round of home heating. It just so happens power company crews are working overtime to restore power to hundreds following a winter storm.

My household, just like yours, demands electricity to function. So do gas pumps, ATM’s, water treatment facilities, grocery stores and security systems.

Even as meteorites slam into Russia, and we shudder to think that a close shave by an asteroid could have knocked out our communications satellites, there’s not much discussion by the general public about the vulnerability of our electric infrastructure.

The national news media seems far more interested in producing stories about who drinks water during a televised speech and political movements designed to diminish our constitutional rights, than they are about some of the real threats that exist today that could have far greater consequences for society.

One of those threats looks to exploit our dependence on electricity to function with a sense of normalcy, and ultimately, survive. The threat comes from an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, and it can occur naturally, or as the result of a deliberate, malicious attempt to bring the United States to an abrupt halt.

I started researching the EMP threat over five years ago. The very same day that the 9-11 Commission released it’s findings into the terror attack on this country, another report was released and got little attention from the media. It was Congress’s EMP Commission report, and those who put it together say this risk is one of the greatest we face as a nation.

The original EMP Commission was established before the existence of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s been briefing Congress and suggesting ways to harden our infrastructure to aid in a more swift recovery from such a catastrophic event. However, as Senator Susan Collins told me back in an interview in 2008, it has not been a priority for Congress.

That’s not very reassuring considering Congress was told of strategy printed in an Iranian military journal that stated the key to defeating the U.S. is by an EMP attack.

Now before you shrug this off as bad science fiction or conspiracy theory consider Iran’s push for nuclear weapons and North Korea’s most recent nuclear weapons test and consider the deadly consequences of their collaboration. Leadership in both of these countries continue to profess their deep hatred for the United States while subjecting their people to isolation and oppression.

The other thing to consider is the fact that a devastating crash of our electrical infrastructure could also be triggered by a cyber attack, or a naturally occurring solar flare.

Below is an excerpt from a show I produced back in 2008 with interviews with Senator Collins and Maine Emergency Management Director Rob McAleer as we talked about the EMP threat. The only thing that has changed since then is Iran’s continued defiance and a weird video posted by North Korea to the song “We Are the World” showing an American city going up in flames.

When our nation witnessed the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and more recently still watch folks impacted by Superstorm Sandy continue to struggle in hope the federal government will “take care” of them I wonder why more people don’t think about being better prepared and strive for self-sustainability as opposed to government reliability.

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