As Director of the U.S. Task Force on National and Homeland Security, Dr. Peter Pry warns an electromagnetic pulse could fry the grid. In the following year, 90% of the population dies. What we can do. Then Elisabeth Rataj on mental health impacts of extreme weather in the developing world.

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This Radio Ecoshock show contains disturbing possibilities. It may not be suitable for small children or anyone already prone to fear or depression.


Incredibly, a pulse of high energy radio waves can knock out everything electrical over a continent, or over the whole world, in nano-seconds, with no warning.It comes from an EMP – an electromagnetic pulse. The cause could be a small nuclear weapon detonated 300 kilometers up in space by a hostile power or terrorist group.

Dr. Peter Pry

We wouldn’t see it, hear it, or feel any health effects. The lights go out, communications stop, commerce stops, travel stops (airplanes would likely drop out of the sky, causing up to half a million deaths).

Because most utilities have not protected their giant transformers, and there are no replacements, the grid would stay down for at least a year, or a decade, or forever. There are ways to protect the system, but a captured Washington regulation system has not pushed for these simple steps.

A hostile power aside, our expert guest tells us an EMP hit is “inevitable” within the time of those living now, because the Sun can also crash our electrical systems world-wide.

A large solar storm, big enough to do it, was seen in 1859. It’s called the Carrington Event. If part of the Sun blows our way, all satellites are knocked out. The wires of our electric system act like antennae, receiving the deadly pulse.

It’s chilling.

We may expect global warming, or the next financial crash. But a very different disaster is also possible. It’s brewing, it’s becoming more likely, and it’s questionable whether the nation, or even this civilization could survive. There will be no warning, except for what you are about to hear from Dr. Peter Pry.

Dr. Pry’s resume goes back to the Cold War days of containing the Soviet Union. For ten years in the Central Intelligence Agency, he studied and reported on Soviet and Russian nuclear intentions. That included a weapon as devastating, perhaps more devastating, than an atomic bomb arriving in a major city. It’s called “Electromagnetic Pulse” or EMP.

Dr. Pry has advised Congress in many roles, including, quote: “the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack“. Currently he is the Executive Director of a congressional advisory body called the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He’s also the director of the Nuclear Strategy Forum.

After the three reactors at Fukushima, Japan blew up, I renewed my research into how fragile big power grids are. I was shocked to learn there are no standard replacements for transformers used by utility companies. If a lot blow, it could take years to replace them. Only two factories in the world make those custom transformers – both in Asia. They can only churn out a couple of hundred a year, and there are about two thousand in the United States alone. So that’s 5 years IF the U.S. gets the total production (when the whole world may want them). These things are as large as a house. There are only two trains in America able to carry them. It’s a giant operation – so why don’t we protect the ones we have?

It can be done, at relatively low cost, likely less than $20 billion dollars, which is small change for the American budget. The usual techniques used by the military to “harden” electrical equipment needs to be installed – things like “Faraday cages” and surge protectors.

Congress has now passed two Acts requiring the utilities to start protecting their systems, but little to nothing happens. There is no enforcement, because the agencies regulating the utilities have suffered “regulatory capture”. The big corporations which government agencies are supposed to oversee have in various ways bought off the Congress people, or installed representatives from the industry into these committees or agencies.

A few other countries have begun to protect themselves, but America is wide-open to EMP attack.

Download or listen to this 40 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Dr. Peter Pry in CD Quality (37 MB) or Lo-Fi (10 MB)



You’ve been reading or watching the news about North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and rockets. Dr. Pry tells us an incredible story (but it is credible). In 2004 the Russians did what they never do: they shared intelligence and a warning about technology transfer to North Korea. Apparently it was inadvertent – i.e. not planned by Putin and his government.

When Russia experienced serious financial problems, and could not pay their top scientists, some were hired by North Korea in 2004. They took with them the knowledge of how to build and deploy electromagnetic pulse weapons. The U.S. was told it could only take about two more years to test a small weapon. Right on schedule, in 2006, North Korea tested it’s first nuclear weapon.

The world scoffed a bit, because this nuclear explosion was quite small. But Dr. Pry says that is exactly the size needed for an EMP in space. It’s possible, he says, to stuff a small nuclear weapon into a satellite. North Korea has two satellites up already, and we don’t know what’s in them. They are on an orbit that comes over the South Pole toward the southern border of the United States.

During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, all assumptions and missile defenses were planned for missiles coming over the North Pole. The Southern border is undefended in that sense. So it’s possible the North Koreans already have a small nuclear weapon in a satellite that can be blown off about 300 kilometers up in space. They may already have the capability to bring America to it’s knees, to send the U.S. back to Medieval times without electricity for a decade or more. Or the North Koreans may still be working on it, with their new rocket motors and new satellites going up.

Surely that should send American utility companies, and the government that regulates them, scrambling to prevent such mega-damage to the grid. But don’t expect Donald Trump’s government to enforce those existing laws, or do anything about it.

It’s a bit strange to me that various right-leaning publications, like World Net Daily and so on, are quite willing to publish articles about the EMP threat, but not about climate change. Peter Pry thinks the longer term risk of global warming is distracting the country from the real threat of EMP, which should come first. I disagree. We need to protect against both.

You can read an article published by Peter and another article, in the Wall Street Journal, on the North Korean EMP threat here (without a subscription to the Journal).

The Threat to Melt the Electric Grid: An electromagnetic-pulse attack from North Korea or another U.S. enemy would cause staggering devastation



We know it’s real. In 1989 a big transformer owned by Hydro Quebec in Canada melted down with a fairly common sized solar storm. Another transformer at a New England nuclear power station also blew. The whole danger of exploding nuclear weapons in the upper atmosphere was discovered during a weapons test in the Pacific in 1962. The lights in Hawaii went out. See this Wikipedia entry on “Starfish Prime“.

Recent solar studies show that the Sun can and will have a major eruption, called a “Coronal Mass Ejection“. Then all it takes is for that side of the Sun to be facing Earth for a wave of energy to head toward Earth. We would have a couple of days warning in such a case – but there’s no way to protect the electric grid in two or three days! There’s been several near misses in just the last five years. Like earthquakes, we know this will happen, we just don’t know when. NASA says the odds of an appearance of a Carrington Event are about 12% per decade. As each decade goes by without one, the odds rise.

A massive solar storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event which burned down telegraph lines and went deep into the ocean to wreck the newly-laid Transatlantic Cable, would not just hit America. It will disable all electronics all over the world.

You may have the illusion that developing countries will survive well, because they have more people already off-grid, like the 600 million people in India without electric power. But Peter Pry and his Committee have looked into this. It turns out even the developing world countries are already so dependent on the international system, they too will suffer massive population losses. Think fertilizers and pesticides that are feeding them. There are multiple dependencies on functioning Western economies that will fail.

By the way, about a week after the grid goes down, for any reason, every nuclear power plant goes melts down like the three at Fukushima Japan, spewing radioactivity across the country and around the Northern Hemisphere.

In a bleak way, a giant solar storm might save the disappearing species, and end our civilization-wide carbon emissions. It would also “solve” our population problem. But that’s a solution that is too horrible to contemplate.

Various “preppers” are aware of the EMP threat, and do a little. For example, microwave ovens are a kind of “Faraday cage” that could protect some electronics. I don’t see the point of protecting your cell phone in an old microwave, because all the towers and networks wouldn’t function anymore. But if you look on You tube, you can find videos of how to protect the essential parts of older model cars (from the 1970’s and earlier) so you could still drive after an EMP. You would have to manually pump gas from a service station, but hey – you would have the whole road to yourself! Maybe those people with stored food and ways to grow organically could be some of the 10% who survive, if they are distant from a big city, and able to protect themselves…

Dr. Pry does say that having more home power system off the grid, like solar or wind, increases our ability to survive. You can also act as a State or Province. Maine, Virginia, and Florida have already moved to harden their electric systems. Texas is working on it. It just took one very determined person in Maine to help protect that state. You can even harden your grid at a community level. Find a blueprint for action in Peter Pry’s latest book “Blackout Wars: State Initiatives To Achieve Preparedness Against An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Catastrophe” published in late 2015. I read his earlier book “Electric Armageddon: Civil-Military Preparedness For An Electromagnetic Pulse Catastrophe”.

Maybe the EMP issue, like climate change, is a kind of test to see if we are an intelligent species or not. We know what the threat is, and even how to solve or minimize it, but will we act?

His web site is here.  Here is another interesting web site on EMP preparedness, called “Secure The Grid“.


Next we discover the rare: what are the mental health effects for all the people in the developing world who have been ravaged by typhoons, fires and other violent events related to climate change?  It turns out kids are hit hardest, but people of all ages suffer from PTSD – as did Americans after Hurricane Katrina. Eventually, will humans become too weakened mentally by repeated extreme events, too weak to respond anymore?

We explore what little we know with Elisabeth Rataj, the German-trained public health expert currently on assignment in Muslim Mindanao, the Philippines.

Download or listen to this 20 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Elisabeth Rataj in CD Quality or Lo-Fi


Scientists agree that more extreme weather events will hit most of the Earth as the climate shifts. Studies of Americans after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy showed increased and continuing mental health problems including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some people in Japan are still fearful, their lives in tatters, six years after the major earthquake there. Is it possible each hit of climate change could leave the general population less able to deal with the next?

But what about the impacts of extreme weather in developing countries, where studies are seldom done? Now we know more, thanks to research published in the journal BMC Public Health. Three authors combed through the records in South America and Asia following extreme weather events. Let’s see what they found.

Our guest Elisabeth Rataj is the lead author. Elisabeth, grew up in Saxony, Germany, where she obtained a Master of Public Health at the University of Dresden. She did the research on the lasting impacts of severe weather while working in Dresden in the Center for Evidence-based Healthcare. Now employed by a large German development agency, Elisabeth is an Advisor at the Department of Education in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the Philippines.

We discuss an article published in September 2016 in the journal BMC Public Health. The title is “Extreme weather events in developing countries and related injuries and mental health disorders – a systematic review“. That’s an open access article, so anyone can read it.

We’ve been talking with the lead author Elisabeth Rataj. She did this research at the Dresden in the Center for Evidence-based Healthcare. Elisabeth is now employed by a large German development agency. You can read more about Elisabeth’s research into climate trauma in developing countries in this article in the journal “Open Forest”.


Trauma Research: Extreme Weather Events and Mental Health


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