Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Pulse?

This piece was adapted from an article that originally appeared in the SAIS Review of International Affairs.

 

That fearsome weapon? An electromagnetic pulse. Pry, executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a congressional advisory board, described a scenario in which an adversary could detonate a nuclear device in the atmosphere over the United States, which would in turn generate an EMP that would cause catastrophic damage to the nation’s electricity grid, resulting in long-term, national power outages.

It is, indeed, a frightening scenario—and it isn’t the only threat to the nation’s electricity grid. U.S. critical infrastructure is also vulnerable to cyber and physical attacks. The risk of such attacks is real, and, in some cases, growing. But don’t run out and stock your bomb shelter with whale oil just yet. In fact, odds are you have far more to fear from nut-obsessed squirrels than nutty extremists when it comes to the reliability of your electricity.

According to the Department of Energy, severe weather accounts for the majority of power outages. This piece was adapted from an article that originally appeared in the SAIS Review of International Affairs. While testifying before Congress in May, Peter Pry warned that a rogue state or terrorist […]