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This Old Firehouse
There have been warnings from scientists and other experts for years that the Nation's electrical grid system and other critical infrastructures that have an almost complete dependency on electricity and electronic components are highly vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse event either from natural or man-made causes. However, Congress and the administrations of previous and current presidents largely have ignored those warnings. Events such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States and then the devastating Hurricane Katrina that revealed vulnerabilities to those infrastructures for a time heightened that concern. Due to the lapse of time and a relatively calm period since those disasters, policymakers have been lulled back into complacency rather than take preventative action against what could be the biggest threat to U.S. national and economic security in our lifetime. The threat from an electromagnetic pulse attack on our critical infrastructures either from an impending solar storm of serious intensity expected between 2012 and 2014 or a high-altitude nuclear explosion are threats that could have long-term catastrophic consequences for our society and our way of life. A few years ago, a congressional commission went into considerable depth on those consequences to our electricity-dependent infrastructures that include not only the power grid itself but also telecommunications, our banking and finance system, our transportation system that delivers the very food and water on which our society depends on a daily basis, as well as the fuel needed to keep our houses warm in the winter and air conditioned during the summer. While these critical infrastructures continue to face such an impending crisis, Congress basically has ignored its own commission report and instead has treated the threat of an electromagnetic pulse event as a political football to be weighed against the need to establish an anti-ballistic missile system. Out of the debate, nothing has happened in either direction. "A Nation Forsaken" breaks down that threat. It even outlines how our own military similarly is vulnerable to an electromagnetic pulse event due to its 99 percent dependency on the Nation's electrical grid system for electricity and communications, raising the high prospect that it may not be able to function to defend the Nation in its time of greatest need. While an electromagnetic pulse event on our civilian infrastructure could be serious, it can be managed if government at the federal, state and local levels gives a high priority to undertake preventative action to lessen its impact to recover from it. Given what seems to be a perpetual gridlock in Congress, however, don't count on it.
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