29 Jun North Korea is not a threat
“They do not have anything that could reach here, or do they?” questions James Carlini.
The threat of nuclear bombs is such a remote possibility today that no one really thinks about it anymore. Or do they?
Maybe you should re-think that threat when you see how many bombs could potentially come to your city. Check out the nuke-o-meter (http://nukeometer.com) and plug in your city to find out approximately how much of a threat there is. (Editor’s note: See The Guardian for the back story on the nuke-o-meter and more info about the data.)
Try Chicago. Surprised? I was.
Now put in some of the east and west coast cities. Funny how Chicago has a potential of more nuclear missiles that can reach here than places including Washington, DC., New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Maybe someone can explain that to me.
If you read some of the extremists from both sides, you get a range of comments from
“New America paranoids have a very special flavor of craziness. It’s the belief that the country will be devastated by an electromagnetic pulse attack and that not enough is being done to combat the grave threat.”
to people on the conservative side saying we better take heed of this type of attack. http://www.heritage.org/Research/HomelandSecurity/bg2199.cfm
“In an EMP attack, however, the damage to power lines, supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) control systems (for utility systems infrastructure), and commercial computers would very likely be permanent due to fused power lines and lost data—which would require replacing the entire electric system in the affected area. One estimate warns that the likely costs from the detonation of an EMP weapon over the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area could exceed $770 billion. Millions of Americans could suffer death or injury, and social chaos could ensue.”
Building a better electronic infrastructure should be one of the priorities from the Stimulus package in order to leave some residual benefits for future generations.
I love the naïve people who put up some nuclear-free zone sign as if that’s going to protect them from reality. That’s like putting on some aluminum foil over your head and thinking that will protect you from radiation.
How vulnerable are you from an attack?
In the era of EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) Bombs, you really don’t need a sophisticated launch platform and control system that can provide pinpoint accuracy from several thousand miles away. All it has to do is detonate in the atmosphere above the earth.
An EMP Bomb can be launched offshore from a ship or submarine and all it has to do is reach about 100-150 miles in the atmosphere, detonate, and fry all the unprotected circuits and electronics that are in a thousand mile or more radius. One bomb can devastate much more territory without turning the landscape into toast. Think of it as a giant umbrella over the earth with everything underneath the blast that has unprotected circuits vulnerable.
That being said, the probability of an EMP attack is more likely than an all-out nuclear attack, especially from someone like Kim Jong Il who likes playing the game of chicken. Getting to a point off either coast is not beyond the realm of possibilities of countries that at first glance would not even be viewed as a threat.
This type of devastation may not even come from an attack of a rogue nation. It could just be part of the weather: (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/21jan_severespaceweather.htm )
The strongest geomagnetic storm on record is the Carrington Event of August-September 1859, named after British astronomer Richard Carrington who witnessed the instigating solar flare with his unaided eye while he was projecting an image of the sun on a white screen. Geomagnetic activity triggered by the explosion electrified telegraph lines, shocking technicians and setting their telegraph papers on fire; Northern Lights spread as far south as Cuba and Hawaii; auroras over the Rocky Mountains were so bright, the glow woke campers who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning.
“A contemporary repetition of the Carrington Event would cause … extensive social and economic disruptions,” the report warns. Power outages would be accompanied by radio blackouts and satellite malfunctions; telecommunications, GPS navigation, banking and finance, and transportation would all be affected. Some problems would correct themselves with the fading of the storm: radio and GPS transmissions could come back online fairly quickly. Other problems would be lasting: a burnt-out multi-ton transformer, for instance, can take weeks or months to repair. The total economic impact in the first year alone could reach $2 trillion, some 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina or, to use a timelier example, a few TARPs.
So wake up
There is a time for fear-mongering and a time to wake up to the facts. Now is the time to wake up to the facts. The media should be covering EMP and not the latest political sex scandal.
In all disaster recovery plans for both municipalities and corporations, are there any provisions for EMP protection? There should be because EMP was a threat in the Cold War. If you are at a company or municipality, that might be a question to raise at the next executive meeting. Disaster recovery or business continuity plans, unless mandated by regulations like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, usually are not as viable as you might think.
One thing that was clearly evident after 9/11, most companies at the World Trade Center that were affected had poor disaster recovery plans and they fell into three categories of preparedness:
|Had no plan||SOME FIRMS||Totally clueless on what to do and how to get back in business.|
|Had a plan, never tested or updated it.||MOST FIRMS||Almost as bad as company with no plan.|
|Had a plan and tested it regularly.||VERY, VERY FEW||Still had major difficulties in trying to recoup.|
For most organizations, the first thing they have to do is dust off their Disaster Recovery Plan or in municipalities, their Emergency Response Plans. Chances are in some cases, they have not been updated and worse yet, never been tested.
Carlinism: The people that disregard real threats are the same people wandering around after a disaster which they thought could never happen, asking what can someone else do for them.
Recent columns by James Carlini
- James Carlini: State mandates: Stimulus Policy
- James Carlini: Illinois drops the ball on localizing modern lithium-ion technology
- James Carlini: Follow California’s lead: Illinois should take a vote
- James Carlini: Bank of America: The Chrysler of banking
- James Carlini: Jumpstarting the commercialization of lithium-ion technology
James Carlini is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University, and is president of Carlini & Associates. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-370-1888. Check out his blog at carliniscomments.com.
This column previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.