Blog 5 – Exploratory Paper

Nicholas DeVries

Dr. Howard                                                                                                            

English Comp. II

6 February 2019

The Electrical Elephant in the Room

Exploratory Paper

            There is an unprecedented threat to our city, country, and continent that most people do not know about and for those of us that do, why have we not stirred up attention for solving this problem? How can we solve that problem with $5000? It is more dangerous than even having nuclear bombs dropped on our land the traditional way. This exponentially more dangerous threat would come from an enemy of the U.S. detonating even just one nuclear bomb high in our atmosphere causing massive electrical magnetic pulses (EMP) over the whole nation or from the sun itself in the form of EMPs from coronal mass ejections (CME). Our electrical grid is vital for survival of the civilization we have built over the last century.  I want to answer the questions presented first by describing what the threats are in detail. By doing that, I will be able to explain why I think not enough has been done about this threat despite being well-known for at least 60 years. After reading these details, most people should be worried. For everyone’s resolve, I will describe some options in dealing with this threat and provide my plan to utilize just $5000 to inspire the necessary changes that could help us all sleep better at night.

            An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is a burst of electromagnetic radiation in the form of a spectrum of millimeter waves. This results in rapidly varying electric and magnetic fields. These fields may couple with electronic systems to produce damaging current and voltage surges. An EMP can be produced by a number of phenomena including: lightning, high-powered microwave (HPM) weapons, coronal mass ejections, and nuclear explosions. EMP is most frequently caused by lightning. Most of our electrical infrastructure already has defenses and solutions for the damage caused by them. This protection was already easily achieved, because lighting only produces a localized EMP, and though we did not fully understand what EMP was, we have known of its effects on electronic systems since electricity was first being used in our society. HPM weapons can be more damaging because its direction can be chosen by its operator. However, its effects can not cause massive damage. Nuclear bombs themselves produce enough EMP energy themselves to possibly knock out power of a few cities temporarily. Even that is not such a scary threat when compared to its regular explosive and radioactive damage. That leaves two phenomena left that cause EMP and pose a serious and terrifying danger. Nuclear detonated EMP’s real threat comes from being detonated in the low density upper atmosphere and its reaction with the earth’s magnetic field. Just one average nuclear bomb being detonated in the upper atmosphere over our country would wipe out almost the entire country’s electrical grid permanently until much of it is repaired and replaced. This is because its reaction with Earth’s magnetic field drastically increases its power and spreads very far in the thin air. Detonation at this height does mean we would probably be safe from the explosion and nuclear radiation itself. Lastly, coronal mass ejections (CME) and solar storms could produce just as much if not more EMP damage as high altitude detonated nuclear bombs. CMEs are solar flares. Solar flares are massive plasma ejections from the sun spanning many times the distance of Earth’s diameter. When ejected towards Earth, it flings unfathomable amount of EMPs towards us. We have been lucky enough to not have a large enough ejection emitted in our direction in our age of technological dependency.

            There is no arguing that our country is underprepared for massive EMP destruction from a nuclear bomb or the sun’s CMEs. This level of destruction has been estimated to leave our country without power for the at least a year before being repaired. In that amount of time, our civilization would fall apart. Our cars would mostly still work, but gas pumps would not work. We would lose the power grid, transportation, communication, and all the other things that rely on these working. Starvation, murder and lack of medical resources would lead to most of our population being wiped out. Not to mention, it would make it all too easy for a foreign enemy nation to take over our crippled country and military. 

Why have we not worked more towards mitigating this threat? I believe there are a few reasons. I think the biggest reason is we have not felt a reason to be afraid. We have not had a large EMP event in our country from the sun or a weapon. No entity has used a nuclear weapon in the atmosphere to attack a country’s electrical grid. It has been tested on a lower scale in the mid-1900s on a lower scale, but has never been used for an attack. That is not to say this topic has not stirred up several times. It is even starting to seem like this topic is getting the proper attention it needs; with, President Trump mentioning its importance and need for change several times during his presidency. I did some google searching of  “is it possible to protect our electrical grid from an emp” and found a website that mentioned a former state representative made some unprecedented strides in legislation bring attention to the need for protection of our electrical grid against EMPs earlier this decade. However, this site did not have any citation or seem credible enough to be a reliable source. Therefore, I searched the name of the representative from that website “Andrea Boland EMP” and found she had a post to OurEnergyPolicy.org referring to her legislation and inviting discussion to the topic. Former Maine Democratic state Representative Andrea Boland was a leader back in 2013 for a bill that passed meant to protect Maine’s electrical grid from EMP and solar storm threats. On her post to OurEnergyPolicy.org, she said, “In March 1989, a moderate solar storm hit Quebec, Canada, causing a province-wide blackout that cost two billion dollars in direct damage, and scattered effects throughout the northeast United States.” (Boland) Scientists have made estimates that there is about a 12% chance of a CME causing a massive EMP in the US over the next decade. There have been a number of politicians calling for studies, initiatives, and ideas for dealing with our power grid defenses against EMPs. Although, I cannot find anywhere where there is direct legislation that calls for the implementation of specific installations or replacements to the power grid that will safeguard it against EMPs. I believe that is what we need to actually become adequately prepared.

I think it is waste of time and money to attempt to make focus plan to deal with the aftermath. Though, I am sure FEMA has a plan that will do something, I am convinced that it would do very little as to help the number of casualties. The damage would so vast that any plan addressing what to after the disaster would do very little to help chaos and the death toll in my opinion. I think the more sensible option would be to fortify our electrical grid against this threat, just like we already have for lightning. As I have said earlier, multiple politicians have put forth legislation that also brings attention to this issue. Still, some of those legislations are nearly a decade old and not much has happened. We are virtually just as vulnerable as we have always been for decades. Therefore I decided I wanted a plan that can best make a difference utilizing $5000. I would like to say my plan would involve me figuring out the exact technology and implementation to protect our electrical grid. However, I do not yet have enough knowledge of electromagnetism or our power grid to figure this out on my own. Therefore, my plan would involve reaching out to students and professionals that are studying or working in fields compatible with coming up with solutions for this as well. I would create a competition website. It would state that for each person or group that I believe to be one of the five best solutions, they would each win $1000. Not to mention if they patented their innovation they could become rich if legislation were approved to require its use. I would contact heads of departments, clubs, and research centers at colleges requesting that their students can participate in the competition. I would also reach out to the power grid industry research groups to request their participation. To have a valid entry in the competition each participant’s solution would have to address two things. It would have to include their tested technology required to reinforce our country’s power against EMPs in the most economical way they can come up with and include a cost estimate of its implementation. All the while this competition were going on, I would also work to bring the attention of this threat and this solution, through my competition, to the attention of news organizations, the electrical industry, and politicians. My hopes would be that by the end of the competition, that I could bring enough attention to it that at least a one of the solutions would be found viable enough to introduce federal legislation that specifically outlines requirements of changes to the electrical grid that would protect it from EMPs. The solution would not have to be perfect; but, it would at least need to reduce that possible damage to no worse than we might see from big storms or common outages that we are currently use to dealing with. If legislation is passed, either from my plan or by any other means, that specifically outline requirements for our electrical grid to be made safe from EMPs, then I believe all people in America will be significantly safer as a nation. The need for an aftermath plan would become unnecessary. I hope even my plan can inspire comfort about the possibility of the future of our nation’s safety.

Bibliography

Boland, Andrea. “What Maine Did to Secure Its Electric Grid from Electromagnetic Pulse and Geomagnetic Disturbance.” OurEnergyPolicyorg WaterEnergy Nexus Debate Heats Up Comments, 8 Aug. 2013, 10:38 AM, http://www.ourenergypolicy.org/what-maine-did-to-secure-its-electric-grid-from-electromagnetic-pulse-and-geomagnetic-disturbance/.

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Blog 8

To gain an understanding of how our government and society views the threat of  nuclear EMPs and solar EMPs, I searched on google, “is our electrical grid protected against EMP” and saw a Washington Examiner result titled “Trump first president to protect electrical grid from EMP”. The article, written by Paul Bedard, explained Trump’s statements and actions on the both the threat of EMPs and what needs to be done about it. Paul bedard brought up a chilling finding saying, “An attack, according to a past EMP Commission report, could lead to the deaths of 90 percent of the population in a year.” (Bedard) Essentially, he is saying that a high altitude nuclear EMP attack was found, by a government commission’s report, to be capable of causing the deaths of up to 90 percent of the U.S. population as a consequence of our nation being without electrical power for a year. He adds this finding to his article of Trump’s take on EMP threats to illuminate one of the many legitimate reasons for serious action being taken to protect our electrical grid against EMPs. I found Bedard’s article and the quote from it to be a legitimate source for a number of reasons. This article was published by The Washington Examiner, a well-known and established news outlet. Within the quote, it had a hyper link to another article of his outlining a congressional hearing where this claim was made. Within this particular article, he gets more specific and provides a link to a government pdf of the house hearing and a quote from it. Here he wrote, “In calling on the Pentagon and President Trump to move quickly to protect the grid, the experts testified that an explosion of a high-altitude nuclear bomb delivered by a missile or satellite “could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans.””. (Bedard) He summarizes the experts’ testimony meant to provide serious evidence for the need to protect the electrical grid. After this summary, he quotes the experts’ words during the congressional hearing. Bedard’s summary of their evidence was to quickly show who they were addressing and the threat they were going to explain. He quoted this testimony, from of the experts, to show evidence of the danger that follows a high altitude nuclear EMP attack by a legitimate source. This quote appears quite credible and relevant. It is derived from experts trusted to speak at a congressional hearing on the basis of national security. Like myself and Bedard, The experts are trying to explain just why protecting our grid against this threat is so paramount.

Work Cited

Bedard, Paul. “Trump First President to Protect Electric Grid from EMP, Cyberattacks.” Washington Examiner, Washington Examiner, 20 Dec. 2017,www.washingtonexaminer.com/trump-first-president-to-protect-electric-grid-from-emp            cyberattacks.

Bedard, Paul. “Congress Warned North Korean EMP Attack Would Kill ‘90% of All        Americans’.” Washington Examiner, Washington Examiner, 13 Oct. 2017,       www.washingtonexaminer.com/congress-warned-north-korean-emp-attack-would-kill-90-of-all-americans.

United States, Congress, Cong. House, CHIEF OF STAFF COMMISSION TO ASSESS THE   THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES FROM ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE (EMP)           ATTACK, et al. “North Korea Nuclear EMP Attack: An Existential Threat.” North

Blog 4 Email Friend about traveling to Chernobyl

James,

I have grave concern for you traveling to Chernobyl. I would like to convince you to cancel your trip or travel somewhere safer. Obviously there is elevated radiation levels that I believe to be unsafe based on Conny Bogaard’s journal from CAA Annual Conference 2012 Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts. Bogaard states that all tourists have to sign a waiver. This waiver is to not hold them accountable for resulting disease from the radiation. This in and of itself should be enough to dissuade you I hope. Please reconsider and let me know what you think. I think you would have fun and would likely feel fine in the years to come. But, as you grow older you will likely start to show symptoms of your overdose exposure to nuclear radiation. Go skydiving if you need a thrill. I will go with you if you a rush. Or lets hike a challenging mountain.

Nick

Source:

Conny Bogaard – https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/37074791/CAA_Bogaard_New_Challenges_for_Atomic_Tourism.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1548960823&Signature=A20jWFlPQlMFbK3ud7Hf7UVTRbs%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DNew_Challenges_for_Atomic_Tourism.pdf

Zombie’s Rise – blog 2

When researching the origin of the zombies, I only saw results showing its term and stories being used in just the recent few centuries. I was not satisfied with this knowing all the different beliefs and stories shared as far back as during ancient Greek civilizations. So, I then searched for, “did the ancient Greek’s have a zombie story” and sure enough found evidence that they had ideas and stories of zombies back then as well. I found on https://www.archaeology.org/news/3432-zombie-sicily-greek-living-dead that archaeologist Carrie Weaver found that Ancient Greeks believed that certain dead bodies could reanimate. While continuing this google search, I found a web page from a university that I decided to use, http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp264-ss13/2013/04/25/history-of-zombies/. On this web page, it showed evidence was found that measures were made to prevent the dead from rising as zombies from ancient Syria. It says that graves were dug up and the heads were crushed and separated to prevent reanimating. The word itself originated in about the 8th century. The word zombie itself seems to have originated from the Kongo words nzambi and zonbi meaning ‘spirit of the dead’. It was observed as meaning a person that died and was brought back to life without speech or free will.

As for the reason zombies are associated with the apocalypse, it seems like it can only be answered by opinions backed by facts. after searching, “why zombies could cause an apocalypse” I found several useful websites. One is https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2018/05/could-a-zombie-apocalypse-really-happen/. I found within the article that a plausible current disease that’s symptoms cause zombie-like symptoms. Rabies is the deadly disease that resembles zombies because of increased aggression, agitation, and delirium that can spread through saliva and biting. I found these symptoms on https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/symptoms/index.html and https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/rabies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351821. Because zombie symptoms urge its host to spread the virus subconsciously similarly to rabies, I believe many of us could see it as causing overwhelming apocalypse. We are faced everyday with disease, viruses, and infections. But the only one of those that encourages the victim to spread its virus to other people violently is the zombie infection or similarly rabies. A virus that causes humans to act to spread it aggressively could spread at an apocalyptic rate.

Shocking Communion

I have had an unusual amount of encounters with lightning, tornadoes, and a hurricane. However, one particular time required interesting tools to fix. When I was about 9 years old, I attended my best friend’s sister’s first communion celebration. Once things settled, my friend and I went to his room to play video games on his Nintendo 64. A heavy storm had rolled in during this time. I remember very vividly the seconds following a lightning strike in the home. All at once, I felt a strong sensation in my hand and felt my limbs jerk uncontrollably. At the same time, bright sparks shot out of the upper walls. Following this, there was no power in the house and we easily came to the conclusion that lightning struck the house. We went back to figure out how I was shocked and discovered the wire on the controller I was using had been chewed on and exposed. The smoke alarm went off to our surprise; Because, we never saw any fire or smoke. The parents gathered us all outside the house until they were sure it was safe. The firefighters arrived and quickly came to the conclusion that the fire was hidden either in the attic or inside the walls. The firefighters used specific tools to find and put out the fire. They used a smoke detecting sensor and thermal camera. They detected and found the fire blazing inside the wall and to my friend’s mother’s dismay, quickly began swinging his ax into the wall. Once they created a large enough opening in the wall, billowing with fire and smoke, the sprayed at and into the wall with fire retardant. Fortunately for them, they had home insurance. Usually, we do not think much of lightning storms. That day, we all learned an unforgettable lesson of the dangers of lightning storms.