Could an EMP Attack Really Destroy All Electronic Devices and Send Us Back to the Dark Ages

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack would probably change life as we know it for decades to come.
Antenna Sunset

An EMP attack is one of the most devastating actions that could be taken against a country. It can disable all electronic devices within a large area – and cause massive damage to infrastructure.

This would leave a large part of the country totally cut off, and most of the defensive systems would stop working. This would leave the whole country exposed to new attacks… But, are fears of an EMP attack excessive?

What’s an EMP attack?

An EMP is a sudden burst of electromagnetic energy that can disrupt or damage electronic equipment. An EMP might occur when a nuclear weapon is detonated high above the Earth’s surface.


The resulting pulse of energy would damage electronic devices, causing them to malfunction or even permanently fail. An EMP can also cause power outages and disruptions to communication networks.

Electromagnetic Pulse Defense teams continue building resiliency
Electromagnetic Pulse Defense teams continue building resiliency by Lori Bultman. Public Domain.

While the effects of an EMP attack may seem relatively minor, the consequences could be catastrophic. A widespread EMP attack could disable critical infrastructure, leading to widespread chaos and loss of life.

However, an EMP attack would not be able to physically destroy all electronic devices. It would only damage or disable them. This means that people would still be able to use things like manual tools and generators.


Don't look down
Don’t look down by Benjamin Gonsier. Public Domain.

For this reason, the US Army is changing its GPS systems for MAPS technology to protect its military systems from being completely knocked out in the event of an electronic weapons attack.

Starfish Prime test: the best example of EMP attack effects

On July 9, 1962, the United States detonated a 1.4-megaton thermonuclear weapon 250 miles above Johnston Island in the mid-Pacific… It was known as the Starfish Prime test.

Starfish5 by US gov. Public Domain.

The resulting EMP was so powerful that it knocked out streetlights in Hawaii, 900 miles away (1440 km). Since then, there has been growing public awareness of the potential dangers of EMPs.


While the effects of EMPs are often temporary, they can cause lasting damage to electronic equipment.

Today, almost all communications depend on GPS, electrical systems, or the internet. So, an EMP attack would be devastating for carrying out ordinary activities in the affected area.

The devastating effects of an EMP attack

The effects of an EMP are far-reaching and can cause long-term disruptions to our way of life.


An EMP attack will fry electronic circuits, causing irreparable damage to electronic devices. A single EMP blast could knock out power, transportation, communications, and essential services for months or even years.

960px E 4 advanced airborne command post EMP sim
E-4 advanced airborne command post EMP by Camera Operator: SGT. ERNIE STONE

The resulting chaos would make it very difficult for people to survive – and a widespread power outage would create the perfect conditions for a nuclear attack.

An attack of this kind would likely cause massive radiation and irreparable damage to the environment. It might poison the waters and lands that would create a famine that would worsen the lack of communications and energy in the stricken area.


In the US, it would generate very rapid nuclear retaliation. Even if the ground signals are down, an aircraft like the E-6B Mercury could warn the Ohio class submarines to launch their nuclear payload – and in a few minutes, they could be launching dozens of nuclear missiles at the aggressor country.

EMP attack A safety blanket vs. nuclear attack: National Guard troops defend
A safety blanket vs. nuclear attack: National Guard troops defend by California National Guard Primary. Public Domain.

So, the risk of retaliation is the greatest deterrent to prevent an electromagnetic attack.

An EMP attack is a little-talked-about threat… But a potentially life-threatening reality!

An EMP attack is one of the least talked about variants of a nuclear blast. However, its effects are devastating. An EMP attack would destroy a country’s assets without a direct attack – and it would probably take decades to build it back up again.


Featured image credit: Antenna Sunset by Jonathan Young. Public Domain.