One of the Worst Manmade Threats to Modern Society.

One of the worst non-natural disasters that could afflict a modern industrialized nation is this: if something happens to the electrical grid, and the electronic payment systems to go down. This would be a true catastrophe. Modern society depends on electronic payments. The division of labor depends on electronic payments. Without electricity or access to the electronic payment systems, the division of labor will break down very quickly. The modern economy will not function in only cash transactions. This means food trucks will stop moving. Water will stop flowing out of faucets. High-level healthcare procedures would be impossible.

What could cause this to happen? It is possible that a powerful solar flare could produce a large enough power outage to generate this scenario. It is unlikely. Too many varying factors have to line up. A huge meteor exploding in the upper atmosphere could produce this scenario, but that is also extremely unlikely.

Apart from natural causes, there is another way for the above scenario to occur: An Electromagnetic Pulse attack (EMP).

As Fox News describes:

An electromagnetic pulse is a burst of electromagnetic energy strong enough to disable, and even destroy, nearby electronic devices…

In the first few minutes of an EMP, nearly half a million people would die. That’s the worst-case scenario that author William R. Forstchen estimated in 2011 would be the result of an EMP on the electric grid – whether by an act of God, or a nuclear missile detonating in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The catastrophic effects of an electromagnetic pulse-caused blackout could be preventable, but experts warn the civilian world is still not ready.

An EMP will only be a significant threat during a state of total war with another developed power. This means Russia or China (and war with China is super unlikely, so really just Russia). Terrorists would do something like this, but it would be overwhelmingly difficult for any terrorist to get the resources necessary to launch such an attack.

I don’t have an apocalyptic outlook. I don’t live in fear of this coming to pass. But I do think that people should have a plan. If this happens, how will you find water and feed yourself? How will you feed your family? How will you defend yourselves? Will you have auxiliary power? How will it be provided, and to what electronics? What is really important to have on hand? These are questions you should think about, and eventually answer.

For people who live inside of big cities, their first step in a poop-hitting-the-fan scenario is easy to determine: get out of the city.

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