Over the last decade the nuclear EMP (NEMP) threat associated with a high-altitude nuclear detonation has gained momentum, fueling the prepper community with visions of a sudden end to our high-tech infrastructure, and returning us to brutal survival conditions in a world of escalating chaos and violence. This threat is talked up by politicians, corporate lobbyists, and those that hope to gain - either monetarily (via government contract) or through the spread of fear (for perception management). Recent novels such as Ray Gorham's 77 Days in September and William Forstchen's One Second After have fanned the flames of this threat with gritty stories of mass death and horrendous struggles to survive. But is this threat really viable in the context of so many other threats that are visible on our horizon?

Nuclear EMP (NEMP)

It was during the Cold War years that the NEMP threat was quantified with the help of a few high-altitude nuclear test detonations conducted by both the US and USSR in the early 1960s. All nuclear powers since then have characterized the threat (physical mechanisms of NEMP), designed delivery/weapon systems (to maximize the effect), and hardened key control systems (to withstand the event). The EMP hardening of key control systems was designed to preserve weapon launch capability, maintaining mutually assured destruction (MAD) as the operable deterrent.

But since the 9/11/2001 World Trade Center event, this NEMP threat has morphed into nuclear weapons in the hands of "terrorists" with nefarious plans to launch them from container ships over the continental US. This threat narrative is equivalent to believing that a handful of incompetent, terrorist play actors were able to pull off the WTC/Pentagon attacks with amazing flight maneuvers that no airline pilot could ever admit performing.

It is amazing to me that so many in the alternative news community understand the False Flag nature of 9/11, yet fall hook, line and sinker for a terrorist NEMP scenario. An example of this recent hype is Mac Slavo's recent article (SHTFPlan.com) here. Although he refers to a "rogue nation" NEMP threat, some of the quoted material appears to have come directly from Forstchen's fiction novel, One Second After.

Regular SOTT readers will be very wary of the fact that Newt Gingrich (former House Speaker) wrote the foreword to Forstchen's book - and in such a way as to hype the "terrorist" NEMP threat. But let's go deeper and see if this threat makes any real sense.

The Power/Control Structure

The power/control structure that has led countless past cultures and civilizations to destruction through wars, famine, disease, and catastrophe, is fully operational today. Its psychopathic values eventually infect large populations and bring about a decadence/impotence and failure of those human aspects that define the term 'humanity'. Under these conditions, a culture/civilization is doomed.

The psychopathic elements of this control structure never intend self-destruction; however they have brought it about countless times. For more details on how the psychopathic elite bring about this destruction, see: One of the major characteristics of this power structure is the increasing level of control that is imposed on the masses. In our current time, this control structure hides in our central banks, governments, and intel organizations - they run the world, even in the face of apparent nation states. From this structure's standpoint, things do not happen - they are directed. So, what would be the purpose of an NEMP attack? These entities (I won't even call them human) are in the business of increasing control - not losing it. Would they risk losing control over a significant portion of their domain through mass destruction of the infrastructure? I don't think so.

It seems more likely that they would opt for an engineered economic collapse or war - in which they can implement strategies to increase their control, not lose it.

An NEMP affects a limited area of the ground below the nuclear detonation. To cover the entire continental US would require a burst altitude of about 300 miles (orbital altitude) or multiple simultaneous launches at lower altitudes. There are nuclear weapon design considerations associated with maximum EMP effect that require detailed knowledge of EMP mechanisms. Launch operations alone are significantly complex and far outside the capabilities of many state actors - let alone terrorist organizations.

If such an event were cloaked as an act of "terrorism", there would be a nuclear-capable, launch-capable state actor behind it. What state actor would be willing to risk such a cloaked attack? A capable state actor would also know:
  1. US military retaliatory capability is well-hardened against NEMP
  2. The US capability to immediately detect/track the launch via its network of IR-sensor satellites

SBIRS network of IR sensors to detect/track launches
There is no realistic "terrorist" NEMP threat no matter how loud Newt Gingrich sounds his horn.

Is the threat from NEMP at all like the fear porn described in books like One Second After? From a 2010 study conducted by Metatech for Oak Ridge National Laboratory:
The only direct experience with E1 [the strongest wave] HEMP was in 1962, when the U.S. and USSR both experimented with a few high altitude nuclear bursts. For the U.S., the bursts were over the wide expanse of the sparsely populated South Pacific. The only real infrastructure was in Hawaii, very far away, and generally consisted of electronic tubes, and power grid relays that were bulky (and hardy) electromechanical devices. There were some upset and damage effects in Hawaii. The Russian experience, which was over land and more pertinent, was over a vast desert region, also with very antiquated infrastructure equipment. They did have damage associated with long lines (communications and power insulators), and also damage to diesel generators and radar systems. Now, more than half a century later, and after all the technical advances in our modern infrastructure (solid state electronics), it is certainty true to say that E1 HEMP is likely to be a bigger problem than it was in 1962.1
Note in the above that long transmission lines (power or communications) suffered. Radar systems have receivers that are directly connected to antennas that can deliver an EMP to the electronics. Generators are often connected to long transmission lines. Also from the report:
There are many such exaggerated scenarios; for example, it is doubtful that more than a very small fraction of vehicles will suddenly stop working ...

US power grid system
Part of the reason for this last statement is that most cars have metal bodies that shield much of the electronics. Those cars with fiberglass bodies (or composites) will not have this benefit.

So the realistic EMP threat is to our power grid and communications transmission lines through delivery of high-voltage pulses for which connected components are not designed. A power grid failure would be devastating - especially since the US grid is centralized into three main networks. Replacement of large transformers and other critical components could take months to years.2

Communications failures would likely include TV, cable, Internet, cell, and phone service. Even if some of these services survived the initial event, they would likely fade quickly with the power grid.

Now, let's finish the quote above:
There are many such exaggerated scenarios; for example, it is doubtful that more than a very small fraction of vehicles will suddenly stop working - but how long will they be able to run with gasoline supply disruptions from possible electric power grid problems?
So, EMP is a real threat, but is NEMP the source? No. The realistic EMP threat comes from our Sun.

Solar EMP

In late August 1859, our Sun let loose a large coronal mass ejection (CME). What occurred at the earth a short time later is known as the Carrington Event (September 1-2). A CME is a high-speed, dense stream of charged particles resulting from a flare at the surface of the sun - usually associated with sunspot magnetic mixing. If the CME is powerful enough, it results in geomagnetic storm conditions which produce auroras that are visible at low latitudes. Charged particle penetration of the earth's geo-magnetic field also occurs. Transverse deflection of this charged particle stream by the geo-magnetic field produces a large EMP in a way similar to the NEMP.3 The faster (and more dense) the particle stream, the greater the EMP and plasma penetration of the earth's shield. Extremely high voltages can be induced in any transmission line over the ground.

In 1859 there was no electronic infrastructure other than telegraph lines (i.e. communication transmission lines). From Wikipedia:
Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.4
To give an idea of the magnitude of this event, Wikipedia goes on:
On September 1-2, 1859, one of the largest recorded geomagnetic storms (as recorded by ground-based magnetometers) occurred. Auroras were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. were so bright that the glow woke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People in the northeastern United States could read a newspaper by the aurora's light. The aurora was visible as far from the poles as Sub-Saharan Africa (Senegal, Mauritania, perhaps Monrovia, Liberia), Monterrey and Tampico in Mexico, Queensland, Cuba, Hawaii, and even at lower latitudes very close to the equator, such as in Colombia.
Today, many suggest that this was a rare event and not at all likely in the future - particularly in view of the greatly reduced solar activity observed over the last solar cycle (cycle 24).

But Obama's Executive Order "Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events" - dated October 13, 2016 - correctly characterized the threat.5 Unfortunately the purpose of the EO was to restate the government's intention to take control/possession of any and all private property should such a catastrophic event occur - rather than encourage the public to prepare for loss of electric/electronic infrastructure. And then on October 14, 2016, as if to underline the threat, the Sun burst forth with a massive double CME - thank goodness it was not earth-directed. A snapshot of the event6 is shown in Figure 1 (see video link at the end of this article). The second CME rapidly overtook the first CME and continued at much higher speed.

Figure 1 Measurement observation of the October 14, 2016 CME event
Now let's return to the Wikipedia entry on the Carrington event:
It is believed that the relatively high speed of this CME (typical CMEs take several days to arrive at Earth) was made possible by a prior CME, perhaps the cause of the large aurora event on August 29, that "cleared the way" of ambient solar wind plasma for the Carrington event.
It may be that a double CME is far worse than a single CME event. The October 14, 2016 CME event would very likely have been a kill-shot to our power grid and much communications infrastructure had it been earth-directed. The Sun just told us that she is quite capable of sending us back to a 19th-century existence for which, collectively, we are totally unprepared. By Executive Order the government is prepared - prepared to take possession of your private property including any personal preparations you may have made against disaster/catastrophe.

Recently, strong geomagnetic storms have been associated not only with flares, but also speedy/dense coronal hole streams. During these storm conditions, there is a 3-10x increase in electrical fires, transformer explosions, power outages, aircraft events, communications outages, etc., observed in various parts of the world.5 Our geomagnetic field is weakening, the poles are accelerating away from their past positions, and the geomagnetic field is threatening future reversal of the poles. And the fact that our Sun is capable of these massive CME events even as she enters a period of sleep should give us all good reason to think carefully about our collective condition and take measures to improve it.

There's one other natural source of EMP events: asteroids and comet fragments. Many accounts in recent years of unannounced "missile tests", unexplained sonic booms, falling "space junk", and "explosive earthquakes" may in fact be explained by mid-air explosions of such bodies. If the increasing trend of fireball sightings continues to increase, so does the threat that one or many of these objects will produce an EMP strong enough to affect our infrastructure. (See Pierre Lescaudron's book, cited at the end of this article.) Will such an explosion take place over critical infrastructure locations? Or will the extent of damage be relatively limited?

The solar EMP threat is very real, but is it the primary environmental threat, or is there another more prominent threat that should be taking center stage?

Something else ...

As noted above, the Sun has entered a period of significantly reduced activity, indicating the arrival of another multi-decadal solar minimum. What do past solar minima look like? Figure 2 shows past solar activity in terms of sunspot count from about 1625 (beginning of observations) to present. The solid line is a moving average of sunspot count that is roughly correlated with temperature variations on the earth.

Figure 2 Historical composition of solar sunspot activity

Dr John Eddy
The first deep minimum labeled the Maunder Minimum (1650-1700) is also known as the Little Ice Age. During this period, temperatures were significantly cooler, resulting in extreme crop loss, starvation, and disease/plagues in the higher latitudes around the world. The second major minimum is known as the Dalton Minimum (early 1800s). The next shallow minimum is indicated as the Centennial Minimum (early 1900s). It has been proposed that the next (future) solar minimum be named the Eddy Minimum after Dr John Eddy7 (1931-2009) for his work identifying/quantifying the Sporer and Maunder Minima.

So, in Figure 2 the current drop in solar activity is labeled the Eddy Minimum, the future uncertainty being this: will the current minimum look like the Dalton, Maunder, or something much worse? Take a look at our last solar peak in sunspots (cycle 24) in Figure 2. This peak is significantly lower than the last peak that preceded the Maunder Minimum (just prior to 1650). The bottom line is that we have no idea, at present, where the next solar minimum is heading, but we can be assured that we have entered it. The worldwide bizarre weather extremes8 we have experienced over the last few years is a powerful indicator that we have, indeed, entered the next solar minimum.9

Let's take a closer look at those last two solar cycles: 23 and 24. Figure 3 shows the detail in these last two cycles.

Figure 3 Details of solar cycles 23 and 24 [Adapted from NOAA]
In Figure 3 the Eddy minimum is indicated as starting in 2011 and extending into the future. Notice the extreme choppiness of the sunspot count throughout cycle 24 - almost as if the Sun is beginning to short-circuit. The bizarre weather extremes documented by SOTT8 (over the last 5 years), and the rise in the number of large M8.5+ earthquakes over the last decade,9 appear to be highly correlated with this cycle 24 deficiency in sunspot count. Let's not forget that the world relies on healthy sunspot cycles to maintain temperature and good agricultural growing conditions in the higher latitudes.

John Casey's new book
In response to this you might say: well, let's just wait and see where this takes us and we'll respond appropriately as time goes on. John Casey, in his new book UPHEAVAL - Why Catastrophic Earthquakes Will Soon Strike the United States, says NO - millions of people should prepare now for a great increase in M7 to M9+ earthquakes in major seismic zones around the world. The reason for this concern is the high degree of correlation he (and contributing scientists) has found between major past earthquakes and solar minima. These contributing scientists include:
  1. Dr Dong Choi - Director of Research for the International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center and editor-in-chief of New Concepts in Global Tectonics Journal
  2. Dr Fumio Tsunoda is professor emeritus of geology and civil engineering, National Saitama University, Japan
  3. Dr Ole Humlum is professor of physical geography, University of Oslo. He is a glaciologist and geomorphologist and author of several science texts and approximately 100 scientific papers.
The correlation they have found is undeniable and presented in detail for the major fault zones in and around the US including the zones of Alaska, Cascadia, California, New Madrid, and South Carolina. In this article the discussion is limited to the New Madrid Seismic Zone (NMSZ), but the general results apply to all of these zones - and anyone living near these zones is encouraged to read Casey's book.

Figure 4 shows the latest USGS hazard map in contours of predicted ground acceleration over the US land mass.

Figure 4 USGS ground acceleration hazard map [Adapted from USGS]
The dark red contours indicate a ground acceleration of 0.8g (and above) - g being the acceleration of gravity. USGS gives the risk associated with this map as a 2% chance over the next 50 years - a risk that is made farcical by Casey's data and analysis (as we'll see below for the NMSZ).

In the late 2000s, FEMA commissioned a study10 to quantify the damage due to a M7.7 earthquake originating anywhere along the known NMSZ fault lines. The University of Illinois's Mid-America Earthquake Center completed the study in 2008, and Figure 5 summarizes the result.

Figure 5 Damage estimate from hypothetical M7.7 NMSZ quake [Adapted from Univ of Illinois]
The affected areas in Figure 5 are very large since it is a composite of an M7.7 occurring at all points along the fault line. At any given point, the damage from a single event will be roughly centered at that point, but the damage area remains very widespread. As can be seen, the damage estimates are horrendous, extending well into seven states (even for a single event). The beige/tan contour represents a loss of 2-10% of buildings, including residential homes. Assuming a mid-value of 5% means that one in twenty families may need shelter in very broad regions after such an event. Pipelines that feed fuel to the northeast US, which also run through the NMSZ, will be lost. Widespread power grid, communications, and travel infrastructure losses will accrue quickly.

Returning to Casey and his data, Figure 6 shows the location in time of the most recent series of major NMSZ quakes that we know of.

Figure 6 C-14 proxy with time and known NMSZ quakes [Adapted from Casey]
Imposed on the timeline is a curve of C-14 that serves as a proxy (indicator) of temperature variations11 and also correlates well with sun activity as measured by sunspot number (Figure 2). The 1450 quake occurred during the onset of the Sporer minimum. The 1699 quake occurred at the end of the Maunder minimum (as measured by sunspot number). The three devastating earthquakes of 1811/1812 occurred at the bottom of the Dalton minimum - their magnitudes were estimated by the USGS based on historical accounts of the damage. And finally, the 1895 quake occurred during the mild Centennial minimum at a distinct dip in the C-14 proxy curve.

From these data as well as data from other seismic zones, Casey estimates the risk for another large quake in the NMSZ:
If we have another solar hibernation ... similar to the Dalton Minimum, then there is a greater-than-80% probability the NMSZ will have another catastrophic or series of earthquakes between 2017 and 2038.
Compare this to the USGS risk of 2% over the next 50 years. These two estimates diverge by a factor of 40 in percent risk and a factor of 2.4 in time span. In fact, according to Casey, the clock on the next NMSZ quake has already begun ticking as we proceed into the next solar minimum.

Casey's predictions for the other major fault zones around the US are very similar, suggesting a series of devastating earthquakes spread out over the duration of the next solar minimum. For those residing in or near the known high-risk seismic zones, Casey recommends:
Step 1. You should move your family out of high-risk zones as soon as possible!
He goes on with many preparation suggestions based on knowledge of the likely damage from one or more of these mega-quakes.

We do not know the physical mechanisms that cause these quakes to occur or in what order they must proceed. As of today, all we have are correlations (not causations) and much historical evidence to strongly suggest that we have some mighty shakes in our near future. As Casey shows, this is more than enough to motivate serious preparedness efforts in much of the US population.

In the recent fine work by Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight Jadczyk documented in their book, Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, they include a chart describing a postulated set of mechanisms that may be responsible for volcanic eruptions and mega-quakes. This chart is reproduced in Figure 7. From the figure, everything begins with reduced solar activity. This leads to physical deformation/stress as well as electrical effects that ultimately cascade, resulting in violent volcanic eruptions and mega-quakes in particular zones around the world. Quantifying these mechanisms and their cascading effects on one another holds much promise for the future prediction of catastrophic events.
© Sott.net
Figure 7 Suggested mechanisms connecting solar activity to earthquakes and volcanoes
On a final note, and with regard to the nature of the arriving solar minimum, there is the recent paper (July 2016), "Evidence of cosmic recurrent and lagged millennia-scale patterns and consequent forecasts: multi-scale responses of solar activity (SA) to planetary gravitational forcing (PGF)", by Jorge Sánchez-Sesma. In this paper, Jorge states:
Although the reason for these SA [solar activity] oscillations is unclear, it has been proposed that they are due to chaotic behavior of non-linear dynamo equations, or stochastic instabilities forcing the solar dynamo, leading to on-off intermittency, or planetary gravitational forcing with recurrent multi-decadal, multi-centennial and longer patterns. It should be noted that all proponents of planetary forcing have forecasted a solar Grand Minimum for the upcoming decades, but one of them has also forecasted a Super Minimum for the next centuries. In addition, during recent decades, statistical forecasts (with physically based spectral information of reconstructed records) of solar magnetic activity predict a clear decrease in SA, reaching a minimum around AD2100.12
Regardless of the depth and length of the approaching solar minimum, the time for all of us to prepare is NOW!

Notes and References
  1. The Early-Time (E1) High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and Its Impact on the U.S. Power Grid
  2. The threat is to any electronics connected to long transmission lines or antennas. These electronics are particularly vulnerable if they happen to be "on" or operating during an EMP event. However, it is not necessary to build Faraday cages or sealed metalized containers to store consumer electronics - as we often see recommended in the prepper community.
  3. NEMP: Gamma rays from the nuclear burst interact with the upper atmosphere, generating high-energy Compton electrons, which are turned in the Earth's geomagnetic field, and produce a transverse current that radiates an EM pulse towards the Earth.
  4. Solar storm of 1859
  5. Executive Order -- Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events
  6. S0 News Oct.15.2016 - Video
  7. Wikipedia: "In 1976 Dr. Eddy published a landmark paper in Science titled "The Maunder Minimum" where, using the nineteenth-century works of Edward W. Maunder and Gustav Spörer, he identified a 70-year period from 1645 to 1715 as a time when solar activity all but stopped."
  8. See the SOTT monthly weather extreme videos (these video summaries are compiled and published monthly) - SOTT Earth Changes Summary - January 2017: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs
  9. Out of the 17 strongest earthquakes above 8.5 magnitude on Richter scale during last 110 years, the 6 strongest earthquakes (above 8.5) happened during just the last 11 years - this statement as of April 2015. That is 35% of these quakes have occurred in just the last 10% of that time range. This, in itself, is a strong indicator that we have already entered the next solar minimum.
  10. Impact of Earthquakes on the Central USA, Mid-America Earthquake Center, 2008
  11. Beyond about 1950 toward the present, C14 cannot be used as a temperature proxy due to above-ground atomic weapons testing.
  12. Evidence of cosmic recurrent and lagged millennia-scale patterns and consequent forecasts: multi-scale responses of solar activity (SA) to planetary gravitational forcing (PGF), Jorge Sánchez-Sesma, Instituto Mexicano de Tecnología del Agua, July 12, 2016