Electromagnetic Pulse: One Day We Will Wake Up In An America Without Electricity And Society Will Totally Break Down

This post originally appeared HERE over at The Economic Collapse Blog.


by Michael Snyder

What would you do if the power grid went down and never came back up?  One of these days, and it could be a lot sooner than most people think, we will all wake up in a country without electricity.  And considering how utterly dependent we have become on technology, that is a very frightening scenario to consider.  How would Americans react if nothing worked?  Just imagine a world where everything electronic is dead.  I am talking about lights, cell phones, computers, televisions, ATMs, heating and cooling systems, credit card readers, gas pumps, cash registers, refrigerators, hospital equipment etc.  When the power goes out for a few hours, that can be a major inconvenience, but what if it went out all over the nation and it didn’t come back on for months or even years?  This is one of the greatest potential threats that the United States is facing, and yet very few people are even talking about it.

Electromagnetic-Pulse-Public-Domain-460x284 (1)

An electromagnetic pulse attack could potentially send our nation back to the 1800s in a single moment, but very few of us are equipped to handle life without technology.  Tech guru John McAfee recently wrote an article in which he expressed his belief that 90 percent of the population would be dead within 2 years of such an attack

Experts agree that an all out cyber attack, beginning with an EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on our electronic infrastructure, would wipe out 90% of the human population of this country within two years of the attack. That means the death of 270 million people within 24 months after the attack.

You may think that is an unreasonably high estimate, but it turns out that it is the exact same number that the EMP Commission used in their report to Congress back in 2008

What would a successful EMP attack look like? The EMP Commission, in 2008, estimated that within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease and societal breakdown.

In 2009 the congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, whose co-chairmen were former Secretaries of Defense William Perry and James Schlesinger, concurred with the findings of the EMP Commission and urged immediate action to protect the electric grid. Studies by the National Academy of Sciences, the Department of Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the National Intelligence Council reached similar conclusions.

So what has Barack Obama done to protect us from such an attack?

Absolutely nothing.

But there are others in the government that are very, very concerned about this threat.  For example, NORAD recently moved back into Cheyenne Mountain, and the potential for an EMP attack was given as the primary reason for the move

The Pentagon is moving the headquarters for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (Norad) back into Cheyenne Mountain near Colorado Springs, Colo., a decade after having largely vacated the site.

Why the return? Because the enormous bunker in the hollowed-out mountain, built to survive a Cold War-era nuclear conflict, can also resist an electromagnetic-pulse attack, or EMP. America’s military planners recognize the growing threat from an EMP attack by bad actors around the world, in particular North Korea and Iran.

An EMP strike, most likely from the detonation of a nuclear weapon in space, would destroy unprotected military and civilian electronics nationwide, blacking out the electric grid and other critical infrastructure for months or years. The staggering human cost of such a catastrophic attack is not difficult to imagine.

For years, most experts have assumed that an EMP attack would be conducted by exploding at least one nuclear weapon high up in our atmosphere.  And that could definitely happen someday.  But now governments all over the world are working on other ways to deliver an EMP strike, and many of them do not involve nuclear weapons at all.

The U.S. government is among those that have been doing this kind of research.  The U.S. Air Force now reportedly has the capability to conduct an EMP assault against individual buildings or power stations.  The following comes from the Daily Mail

For years, scientists have been attempting to create such a weapon as part of Champ, or the Counter-electronics High-powered microwave Advanced Missile Project.

Now, the US Air Force claims it has advanced the technology, and says it can deploy it using the stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM).

There are fears a well targeted attack could knock out multiple power stations.

‘This technology marks a new era in modern-day warfare,’ said Keith Coleman, CHAMP program manager for Boeing Phantom Works.

And we also know that Russia, China, Iran and North Korea have also been developing EMP weapons.  This next excerpt comes from DefenseNews

The possibility of man-made EMP events has grown in tandem with the technological sophistication of America’s adversaries. It is widely known that both Russia and China already have this capability, and both countries have carried out serious work relating to the generation of EMP in recent years as part of their respective military modernization programs.

Now, rogue states Iran and North Korea may not be that far behind. Iran, for example, is known to have simulated a nuclear EMP attack several years ago using short-range missiles launched from a freighter. North Korea, meanwhile, has acquired the blueprints to build an EMP warhead, and in July of 2013, a North Korean freighter made it all the way to the Gulf of Mexico with two nuclear capable missiles in its hold.

Why are these other nations developing these technologies?

To use them against us someday of course.

Many are particularly concerned about what Iran has been doing.  In a piece for an Israeli news source, author Dr. Peter Vincent Pry explained that Iranian military documents actually discuss conducting such an attack against the United States…

Iranian military documents describe such a scenario–including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom.  For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos.

And it wouldn’t take much to completely disrupt electricity generation in America.  In a previous article, I discussed a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report which made the following jaw dropping statement…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Are you starting to get the picture?

We are far more vulnerable than most people realize.

And even if we are never attacked by an EMP weapon, scientists tell us that it isinevitable that a massive solar storm will produce a similar result someday anyway.  Back in 1859, a massive solar storm that came to be known as “the Carrington Event” fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America.

NASA says that there is a 12 percent chance that a similar solar storm will hit us within the next ten years, and if that happens the consequences will be absolutely catastrophic…

NASA is warning that there’s a 12 percent chance an extreme solar storm will hit Earth in the next decade, sending out massive shock waves that would knock out grids across the world.

The economic impact of this doomsday scenario could exceed $2 trillion — or 20 times the cost of Hurricane Katrina, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

I don’t know why more people aren’t concerned about this.  There are things that the federal government could do to harden our electrical grid, but they aren’t doing them.

This is a foreseeable danger, but our “leaders” are not taking it seriously.

And even if nobody ever purposely attacks us, scientists insist that it is only a matter of time before the sun unleashes an electromagnetic pulse that fries our electronics.  In fact, we have had some very close calls in recent years.  The following is an excerpt from a book that I co-authored with Barbara Fix entitled “Get Prepared Now“…

Most people have absolutely no idea that the Earth barely missed being fried by a massive EMP burst from the sun in 2012 and in 2013. And earlier in 2014 there was another huge solar storm which would have caused tremendous damage if it had been directed at our planet. If any of those storms would have directly hit us, the result would have been catastrophic. Electrical transformers would have burst into flames, power grids would have gone down and much of our technology would have been fried. In essence, life as we know it would have ceased to exist – at least for a time. These kinds of solar storms have hit the Earth many times before, and experts tell us that it is inevitable that it will happen again.

It amazes me that such a small percentage of the population is taking this threat seriously.

An electromagnetic pulse could bring down our entire society in a single moment at any time, and all of the experts assure us that it will happen someday.

But our politicians are just sitting on their hands and most Americans mock the idea that we need to be concerned about this.

So what do you think?  Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

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  1. I will interpret “Societal breakdown” as my fellow citizens killing each other for food, water, fuel and whatever resources they think they need. If bummer want to be king then a national emergency would do it and this would indeed be one. What to dark ? maybe ..
    How many of the DHS and other Government resources are protected from EMP .. Faraday cages etc .. I don’t know.

    Why would regular citizens be worried .. they don’t know, and if they do they can’t do anything so lets ignore it. “That only happens in the movies. The state takes care of us” ..

    It builds a case for owning a classic auto or truck that uses gas but has no electronics, as well as diesel and Solar resources..
    pretty dark article .. and I am not ready .. I am also wondering if it makes any sense at all to invest in retirement .. they are just 1’s and 0’s in a computer.. that would be POOF! gone.. Where as a shelter and stock of fuel and food .. seeds and defense would be very real and tangible resource.. worth more than gold ever would be again..

    This article made me feel miserable .. we suck and deserve it .. every bit of it.. The US certainly but the whole planet is like this or much worse.. It’s a cosmic reset button ..
    I hope it’s doomsayers and chicken little saying the sky is falling ,, jeeze
    Long day I need to sign off and go throw heavy stuff around int eh gym for a bit .. then sleep and think about it after I rest some

    You know you asked a while back why readership is down in general, not just here.. but across the board..
    I think I have a partial answer. If you genuinely think there is no way to fix it or to avoid it .. or maybe even survive it.
    Why read about it and feel like crap all the time.. just ignore it and enjoy what time you have left.
    Whether your belief systems say some one is coming for you, we’ll be destroyed by an asteroid, and EMP, a CME or whatever over a long period of time with no support it becomes less difficult to ignore.
    How can we communicate to people closer to “Here is ow we help ourselves and each other” as opposed to the “The end is near and we’re all gonna die”. Not saying you do the latter/second .. that aint it. You are relatively upbeat and helpful as are most on the site. Hoping I didn’t offend .. but Does that make any sense at all ? I personally need to feel less like crap to keep applying effort. Maybe that makes me a sissy.. but I don’t think so.

    • goinggrray – thanks for the comments and info. You may be right to a certain point on the declining traffic. Overall the traffic is fairly steady this year – just down from the past and I would like to see it head and the other direction. I think there are many “preppers” who see the economy improving and jobs more plentiful and move from prepping to “life”. They just go back to being one of the sheeple.

    • Morning everyone. Goinggray58…it ebbs and it flows brother. In the words of John Michael Montgomery’s song, Life’s a dance.
      “Life’s a dance, you learn as you go. Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow. Don’t worry bout what you don’t know. Life’s a dance, you learn as you go.”

      Don’t let things over whelm you. Learn from it and move forward. Let it challenge you, motivate you, and wake you up. I frequently get those jolts of realization as I read through some articles that show me lacking in area. This followed by a deep sigh, a little concern, then a…”Welp, something else to add to the list” So, just add this to your list, but a little higher. I mean, $20 for a metal trash can from Home Depot and few items like aluminum tape is very do able time/money.

      Excellent article today. Very sobering and solid information. In fact, proof of concept was already demonstrated before bummer came to office and before CNN went full evil. Here is the article write up:


      and here is the video:


      We’ve already had an attack take place in Aurora, Colorado but it was quickly down played by the main stream media.
      Case Study 10 [ICS]:
      The Aurora attack

      So..for sure I would at least make some faraday cages and put some electronics into them in advance. I’ve mentioned here before. In my opinion Mountain bikes. And a round of accessories to repair them is far more cheaper than all that gas and vehicle bug out build. EMP proof and a lot more quieter. Keep in mind there are various way to build a Farday Cage and many variables. For example the amplitude of the EMP and location in relation to you.

      Here is a good video that totally geeks out, but explains EMP:


      Here is a pretty good video explaining a DIY Faraday garbage can posted previous. You will need to buy some aluminum tape to seal the container.

      Also, I would highly recommend either subscribing to Southern Prepper’s youtube or visiting it very often.


      • Thanks Capt.
        end of some very very long days and some very long weeks … A little drink a little food and some rest helped. I never stop fighting and learning. More than ever it points to needing more than JUST yourself… all of us will always be smarter than one of us.
        I floated the idea of challenge coins (military style, .. but not just free drinks) as a way to identify who you could trust and work with.. and maybe what level of fitness or knowledge etc .. maybe Rourke could head that and maybe make a little for the site.
        Beginning HAM preps in October… any thought as to figuring who can and can’t .. call signs or Security handles even better etc .. and maybe that all needs to be on the down low via some more obscure methods .. bite sized chunks right
        hell I gotta dance .. can’t sing worth a crap :).. Thanks again

  2. Michael Synder- exc. post.
    Ben Carson is the only Pres.candidate who is mentioning hardening the grid. Years ago Newt Gingrich brought it up to Congress/Senate but it was shot down-too bad.
    Some of the reasons why only a few people take this seriously because
    some have never exp. a power failure in their lives, some cannot even ponder such a monumental disaster. When the grid goes down our biggest issue will be nuclear proliferation from the melting down of our own
    and or other countries nuclear reactors.
    Going gray58-You make an excellent point. Sometimes the issues can be overwhelming and if I really sit and ponder Marshal law or an EMP I can
    get depressed. My faith gives me strength to trust in my Lord and that gets me by.It doesnt mean we wont experience severe circumstances.It just means I am counting on the grace to deal with whatever comes.

    On a side note folks check your credit card statements carefully because I just had a call that mine was used fraudulently and the credit card company was on top of the three charges and denied them-so a new card will be issued.
    We will be getting our first taste of winter this weekend.
    Take care everyone. Arlene

  3. This is “the” very reason I prep, it’s my worst fear, a 10 on my ricto scale, this is where the sheeple turn into zombies…….

  4. Just today two Navy Admirals were briefing the ptb on Capitol Hill about our grid and how Russia, China, and N. Korea were launching unrelenting cyber attacks against it each day, 24 hours a day, nonstop. They also stated that their best guess is N. Korea has 16 intercontinental ballistic nuclear capable missiles on mobile launchers: range, about 8000 miles. They informed the ptb that N. Korea already has miniaturized emp warheads and we have no defense against them. If our own government isn’t cooperating with our enemies then what other explanation is there.

    • taxn2poverty – amazing how these things are happening right in front of everyone but most are just concerned with the latest cell phone and what some celebrity is doing.

  5. Am I prepared for something like this and life go on as normal? H*ll no! But I AM better off than the large majority of the citizenry.
    Can I do anything about it? No. I can just keep on prepping more, learning more, and, like Arlene, keep faith in God to help me handle what comes and do the right thing.
    As things are right now, if Wifey and I survive the blast, We’ll survive for a while. Not fun, easy, or something to look forward to, but doable.
    Take care,

    Aside, Rourke, you have my email address. Could you contact me that way at your convenience?

  6. that’s the reason I prep, I keep 2 way ,short wave radios, extra car electronics, solar panels ,solar battery chargers , and a 12v pump for those under ground fuel tanks , and a vehicle all in a pair of faraday cages.24-7. cause its going to happen. when? how? these are things I need, I live on the outside edge of a nuclear power plants reach if its cooling system were to fail, I would have to move west. thank for the article Michael and Rourke.

  7. For us the most important issue would be having our adult children and grand children get home. We have told them if there is
    a complete power outage to ride their bikes or walk .( about 20 miles for one -70 for the other)Our two way radios are supposed to cover 35 miles-guess its time for us to test that out. I will check out Mike Synders book.
    We lose power every winter for several days or a couple of weeks so it will take time to discern the magnitude of the outage.I would check that by phone if possible and of course if the vehicles wont start.
    The book The Long Emergency did an exc. example of this scenario.
    Off to plant some garlic. Arlene

  8. i would rather know than not know…it helps me prepare my mind and heart. When all the dust settles God is in charge anyway….that’s the main thing I prep for….that I remain human and kind in a world that is moving away from just that.

    • I agree (PR)

      I told my wife the only thing worse then this (Manchurian Obama) is the people that greased his skids to get him put in place, from those who voted for him at the bottom and the corrupt politicians and powerful people who helped manipulate, lie, cheat, suppress the truth about this man. he has been groomed for this over many years and he carrying the Agenda.

  9. Good article John. Am EMP attack would be the death sentence to most city dwellers. No
    electricity, no refrigeration, and no way to prepare food except by fire. All supplies come to the cities by truck. EMP will destroy highly computerized trucking industry. Most
    of the populace do not prepare for emergency possibilities.

    We live in the mountains and have wood stoves. For years we used kerosene lamps for light.
    Even in a well stocked semi-19th century lifestyle things will get difficult. Getting firewood and other necessities still require transport of some kind. Finally, we grow older
    and hard labor no-longer easy. Health issues too….

    • Jim,
      I feel your pain….I too live in an area somewhat away from town. We built our home around a large chimney…on one side, in the kitchen I deleted the pantry and instead did a wrap around of brick to place the Majestic cook stove my Dad had found in an abandoned farm house that was being demo’d. On the other side, in the family room, we installed a large soap stone wood stove. We can heat, generate hot water and store it in a 42 gallon “range boiler” as well as cook with wood. I’ve accumulated a number of oil lamps. One is a 1938 Alladin lamp I refurbished after finding it in my mother-in-laws barn. That thing puts out light similar to the 40 -60 watt bulb. The only true issue I have is still refrigeration. Got any suggestions? I’ve been looking at a root cellar but have been told that here in the upstate of South Carolina that root cellars are impractical.

      • we live away from a major town .. 50 miles isn’t all that far I guess but WAY out of the way … you have to look for me to find me .. it isn’t ON THE WAY TO ANYTHING.
        on refrigeration
        It occurred to me that since I now have some crops and honey stored in the house.. wifey very excited (we’ll use that word). Which is fine if yo have ac and heat.
        not so much when there is no power.. So I am planning a root cellar .. not REAL refrigeration.. but it maintains or would a pretty consistent 65 degree or so if 6ft in the ground and 2 ft dirt over top. submerging water and hydro culture min 2 ft as well .. it prevents freezing but maintains cooling for tubers, honey .. and the Meade we’ll make :).. doubles as storm protection and when it is really hot a cool place to retreat to .. some designs are out there but nothing i can use so far .. so designing my own and using some commercial resources .. friends .. it’s free or barter at least… to prevent collapse etc… I have seen people do smaller things like burying 55 gal drums, or coolers .. would work in a pinch .. but not really well .. and with that .. we’re learning to can and dehydrate .. EVERYTHING .. meat included.. Look up tattler lids .. they are reusable unlike Ball, and Kern .. the lids do well then jsut don’t go ping! like the disposable metal lids when the seal. ramble concluded.. I’d like to see a series on root cellars here BTW

  10. Of all of the potential threats, EMP is in my mind the most ignored threat to our country other than the porous borders. This country has allowed itself to become almost defenseless here at home.

    As far as preps, here on the homestead, I’m currently trying to persuade myself that I need to get that $800 hand pump to replace a submersible electric pump. Once that is available (boxed and ready in my storage shed), I’ll have most of everything on hand except a replacement for refrigeration. May look into a gas fired refrigerator similar to the one in the RV. I already have the necessary materials to close in the back porch to relocate the old Majestic wood burning cook stove. That takes care of the cooking and hot water generation.

    For uninvited visitors, already laid out plan for lots of barbed wire entanglement (not fencing), cleared fire lanes, access denial devices and methods of funneling the approach lanes. All I would need to do is place everything. Obviously, I have no intent of bugging out.

    Speaking of an EMP, I saw one article that mentioned using an old microwave for small electronics. What about an old refrigerator? Would that work?

    • Oren I am curious
      Have you looked at the 24vdc Freezers ? and they make a 24vdc well pump that senses which input it is receiving and switches automagicly at the pump..
      I do not have either yet .. as a matter of fact I am trying to convince my self to dig a well .. when I built I incorrectly attached to county water.

      You can use solar of course .. I’ve started that .. I use AC to keep the batteries conditioned when available .. and eventually solar will begin replacing it
      The official and code correct way is pricey.. the incorrect code way that totally works is back filling or back leading..
      lots to think about and lots of dollars to find of course ..
      good luck

      • Just remember if you are buying an appliance to survive an EMP, such as a 24 VDC freezer, most of the new appliances are completely controlled by computer circuit boards. Just like new cars, I don’t expect too many devices to continue operating after a pulse. This is the biggest reason, I have not invested in a huge solar system. I don’t think I will need it post EMP. I have a couple of different small solar setups that will give me light and keep all of our batteries charged for radios etc. Even your compact florescent bulbs have a small electronic ballast in them that probably will not work after a pulse, so make sure you have spares put up in a metal box.

  11. Good article. Australia was working on EMP munitions as well back in the day. I had read few months ago a MIG did a fly by a US Ageas ship in the Black sea and on the second pass they hit the ship with a directed weapon and shutting the ship down dead in the water, they got it up again in about an hour,

  12. I can just imagine the sight of 270 million people simultaneously looking up from their blank smart phone screens, all with the same confused and lost look on their faces.

    Yes PR, we’ve gotten the government we deserve. And the most astonishing thing is that you don’t just stumble upon this level of incompetents, it doesn’t happen naturally or by accident. This level of incompetents must be worked for, over many years, with intent………

  13. good comments. . . . Oren, I am also in upper SC. . . . my worry is the oconee Nuclear plant. . . . but not planning on bugging out.

    • Rick,
      Many moons ago, when I first graduated from college, I worked for Combustion Engineering in Chattanooga in the Nuclear Components Division. This was 1973 time frame. Unless something has really changed, and I don’t think it has, you won’t get a melt down from an EMP or CME. Reason being is that if there is any type of disruption, the control rods are designed to immediately drop or scram into the core. That’s why a Pressurized Water Reactor, PWR, has the rods on the top of the head. They drop. That provides a method of slowing and stopping the reaction. However, the cooling water must keep flowing. Every nuc I have been associated with has stand by diesel generators. They’re large enough to provide power for a small town. As long as the generators are able to run, there will be cooling water over the core and spent fuel rod pool. I’m not sure how long the generators will run, although the diesel storage tanks are quite large. At least this was the design in the ’70’s. I can only assume that this has been improved on.
      As far as a terrorist attack, I don’t see how that would be an issue. Assume terrorists actually got on site. I had young man try to tell me that an RPG could penetrate the containment. NOT!! I don’t know of an RPG that could penetrate 4 feet of post tensioned concrete backed up by 1/2 – 5/8 thick plate. As I remember, the containments were supposed to be able to withstand a direct hit by a 747.
      On top of all this, from what I’ve heard from some folks still working the industry, the security guards are not your typical Barney Fife. These guys are all ex military and SWAT trained. I think incursion into a site would be rather difficult and yield little result.
      All that said, it does not deny the fact that what I have seen whenever I drive pass Oconee, the switch yards are visible from the road which means the transformers are exposed. That would be a worry as far as impact to infrastructure.

      But, I’m still looking at a root cellar.

      • depending where you are,the root cellar can work, especially if you can build into a hill, and then cover a lot of it with earth. . . we did some work on a house where the owner used large concrete pipe buried in the earth for cooling- a form of geothermal. if you are going to build a masonry root cellar, get back with me. i might be able to help you out

  14. JAS
    good thought..
    the freezer I saw was a laydown… with motor and compressor .. simple thermostat .. very old school.. but worth looking at for sure..
    bulbs planned are led .. no computers .. and way less draw on batteries.
    yeah solar wise … my house is more modern than it should be really .. I have a 4kw inverter.. but no where near that capacity of generation and won’t.
    I have 3 elder microwaves that sensitive electronics go in .. if microwaves can’t get out they can’t get in either. I woudl love to have a room covered in copper mesh or a closet.. under the sheet rock or paneling … a little costly
    good thoughts thanks

  15. Badger359, thx. Oren, my son works in nuclear maintenance and travels to all the nuclear facilities around the southeast. According to him you are spot on. Each site has its own highly trained and very well equipped security force.

      • I have to agree with Oren on the switch gear-completely exposed. . . . I have wondered about that.. . with the advance in drone technology, would it be that hard to destroy/damage it? for that matter, what about all these substations all over the country? there is no security on many of these sites

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