Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md) said that an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)—“it would bring down the whole [electrical] grid and cost between $1 trillion to $2 trillion” to repair with full recovery taking up to 10 years!
“It sounds like a science-fiction disaster: A nuclear weapon is detonated miles above the Earth’s atmosphere and knocks out power from New York City to Chicago for weeks, maybe months. Experts and lawmakers are increasing warning that terrorists or enemy nation state could wage that exact type of attack, idling electricity grids and disrupting everything from communications networks to military defenses…such an attack would halt banking, transportation, food, water, and emergency services and might result in the defeat of our military forces.” (Federal Times—September 21, 2009)
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says “the U.S. is ill-prepared to prevent or recover from an EMP”—they are asking Congress for authority to require power companies to take protective steps to build metal shields around sensitive computer equipment.
It is imperative for us to protect our critical infrastructure so that we are not vulnerable to the devastating effects of a potential EMP blast. We must think beyond simple guns and bullets and realize that our technological progress is on one hand a great advantage to our society, but on the other hand, can be a huge liability if our technical nerve centers are “taken out”. Our technology is a great strategic advantage for us, but also it is our soft underbelly, and whether, we are surprised by an EMP or some hard-hitting cyber warfare, we are back to the stone age and it will hurt.
It also occurs to me that the same tools terrorists use against others can also be used against them.