AFP PODCAST & ARTICLE: U.S. Totally Unprepared for Coming Solar Superstorm
Over the past several days, 153 years ago, the world was set on fire from the Sun. Though there are very few Americans who are aware of this, the historical record is clear: from August 28 until September 2, 1859, several sunspots and solar flares were observed on the sun by the astronomer Richard Carrington. The largest flare took only 17 hours to make it to Earth, which ordinarily takes three to four days. This great geomagnetic storm, known as the solar storm of 1859, the 1859 Solar Superstorm, or the Carrington Event, took the world by storm, no pun intended.
There is consensus in the scientific community that another Carrington Event is on its way, and perhaps sooner than any of us would want to know. Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, the Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, explains the science behind Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP), both the natural and man-made versions, and the politics behind why Congress has left U.S. citizens vulnerable to an EMP attack, which would create Armageddon, in this eye-opening interview (30:38).
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, is the host of AFP’s ‘Underground Interview’ series.
U.S. Totally Unprepared for Coming Solar Superstorm
By Dave Gahary
“It’s not just a possibility, it’s a certainty and an inevitability that a Carrington Event will happen, it’s just a question of when.”
This past week, 153 years ago, the world was set on fire from the Sun. Though there are very few Americans who are aware of this, the historical record is clear: from August 28 until September 2, 1859, several sunspots and solar flares were observed on the sun by the astronomer Richard Carrington. The largest flare took only 17 hours to make it to Earth, which ordinarily takes three to four days. This great geomagnetic storm, known as the solar storm of 1859, the 1859 Solar Superstorm, or the Carrington Event, took the world by storm, no pun intended.
Aurorae were visible across the globe; over the Rocky Mountains it was so bright that gold miners began preparing breakfast at midnight because they thought it was morning and people in the U.S. northeast awake at that time could read a newspaper by its light. Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed. Telegraph poles sparked and telegraph paper caught fire. Several telegraphs continued sending and receiving messages although disconnected from their power source.
There is consensus in the scientific community that another Carrington Event is on its way, and perhaps sooner than any of us would want to know.
To get a better understanding of the possibility of such an event, or a man-made event producing the same results occurring, AMERICAN FREE PRESS conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, the Executive Director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security, a newly established task force established by Congress, whose purpose is to provide technical, operational policy advice, and legislative help to the Congress, to get the nation protected against such an event.
Dr. Pry’s curriculum vitæ is impressive. He holds two PhD.s (in International Relations and U.S. History) and a certificate in nuclear weapons design from the USAF Weapons Laboratory. A former 10-year intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency, responsible for analyzing Soviet and Russian nuclear strategy and operational plans, he is the former director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, served on the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack (also commonly known as the EMP Commission), and was on the staff of the House Armed Services Committee.
Dr. Pry explained what drew him to be concerned with EMP.
“When I thought about what is the threat that is greatest, the least understood, the one most likely to bring civilization to its knees, it’s this one. When I think of a whole gamut of the threats, and I’ve studied them all, I’m an expert in all of them, where weapons of mass destruction are concerned, it is this one that is most worrisome to me.”
Dr. Pry elaborated upon EMP, a technical issue understood by few.
“EMP is a super-energetic radio wave that can be caused by a nuclear explosion detonated at high altitude, and the pulse will propagate from the point of the detonation to the line of sight of the horizon,” he explained.
“For example, a nuclear weapon detonated at an altitude of 200 km would cover the entire contiguous United States with a pulse that would fry electronics everywhere, in the air, on the surface, power lines, personal computers sitting on your desk, even things underground.”
“EMP can also be generated by Mother Nature. A solar flare, or more precisely, a coronal mass ejection coming off the sun can cause a natural EMP and can have an effect similar to that of a high-yield nuclear weapon detonated over the United States.”
“A Carrington Event occurs about once a century, and we’re actually overdue for another Carrington-type event,” he said. “It’s not just a possibility, it’s a certainty and an inevitability that a Carrington Event will happen, it’s just a question of when.”
“We were just staring to introduce electrical infrastructure, things like telegraph systems, which burst into flames and caused forest fires.”
“Were a Carrington Event happen today in our current state of unpreparedness,” he explained, “given that our survival now depends on electricity, it’s estimated that we would lose about two-thirds of the national population, 200M Americans dead from starvation, disease and societal collapse.”
“If [an EMP event] were to happen today, the National Academy of Sciences estimates that it would knock out the electric grid and other critical infrastructures for a period of four to ten years.”
Dr. Pry explained that “the solar maximum commences in December 2012, which occurs every 11 years, and lasts a year,” which sees increased solar activity.
“We don’t understand the Sun well enough to know exactly why that is, but we do know it has to do with the dynamics of the thermonuclear reactions within the Sun,” he explained.
Although the SHIELD Act (HR 668), Secure High-voltage Infrastructure for Electricity from Lethal Damage Act, has been introduced to “protect the critical infrastructure, electric power grid, communications and transportation, banking and finance, food and water,” said Dr. Pry, it’s been languishing in Congress.
Dr. Pry explained why that is.
“The electric power industry doesn’t want it. They have a huge and powerful lobby. Even though there are a lot of people in the electric power industry would understand the threat and want to do something about this, unfortunately, the smart engineers who work for the electric power industry are not in Washington as lobbyists. The electric power industry operates in the 19th century regulatory environment.”
Dr. Pry warned that although an event such as Carrington is rare, a man-made EMP event is more likely, and wouldn’t take much to send the U.S. back into the Stone Age.
“One bomb can do this against the unhardened civilian critical infrastructures.”
Prior interview with Dr. Pry: