2017 – Pry – Life Without Electricity

2017 - Pry - Life Without Electricity


2017 Life With Electricity: Storm-Induced Blackouts and Implication for EMP Attack - Cover ImageSummary

Storm-induced blackouts of the electric power grid are suggestive of the possible consequences of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, such as could be made by rogue states or terrorists detonating a nuclear weapon at high-altitude over the United States. Electric power grid failure caused by storms cascade through other critical infrastructures—such as communications, transportation, emergency medical services, food and water supply systems. Storm-induced blackouts provide an objective basis for extrapolating judgments about the threat posed by EMP to the civilian infrastructures that sustain economic, political, and social life.

The vulnerability of critical infrastructures to various forms of attack has been a growing concern in recent years, drawing presidential attention in the Marsh Commission, and receiving additional impetus after the terrorist attacks of September 11th that moved President Bush to establish the Department of Homeland Security. However, the science of analyzing critical infrastructures, their interdependencies, and their possible vulnerabilities is relatively new. Much effort and significant resources have been invested in an inductive approach to understanding the potential for cascading failures through the critical infrastructures that may result from failure of the power grid. The prevailing approach relies heavily on complex mathematical calculations, theoretical models, and computer simulations.

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