The tragedy unfolding in Puerto Rico, televised on the nightly news for all Americans to see, is an object lesson in what can happen if the electric grid and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures are suddenly destroyed by a natural or nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP), by cyber-attack, by physical sabotage, or by a combination of these.
No food. No water. Communications and transportation infrastructures so severely crippled that it is difficult or impossible to bring help to those who need it, or even to know where help is most needed.
Puerto Ricans are rightly afraid for their lives. Mass starvation is not happening, or a pandemic has not swept the island — yet.
But the shadow of these threats hangs over the island. And those living amidst this catastrophe every day do not have to be convinced that life without electricity can quickly become Puerto Rican destruction on a massive scale.
Puerto Rico has been in blackout and its critical infrastructures in paralysis for only a few weeks. Imagine if there were no outside help from the U.S. federal government, or from anyone, coming to rescue the island. Imagine if Puerto Rico’s present catastrophe continued for one year, two years, or 10 years.
That is what an EMP attack would be like.
Popular Mechanics should send their staff and editorial board to help out in Puerto Rico.
Maybe they would stop publishing articles by those who know nothing about EMP mocking Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for warning that an EMP attack that blacks-out the U.S. for a year could kill up to 9 of 10 Americans from starvation and societal collapse.
Fortunately, Puerto Rico will be rescued. The U.S. government is doing everything possible to help. Mass starvation will be avoided. A pandemic, with God’s help, will be prevented.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich recently wrote an excellent and visionary article looking beyond the rescue of Puerto Rico to its reconstruction as a showplace, a model for the future of America. One of Speaker Gingrich’s ideas is to rebuild Puerto Rico’s electric grid so that it is not only modernized — but protected against EMP.
Protecting Puerto Rico’s grid against EMP would also mitigate all lesser threats, including cyber-attacks and hurricanes.
Then presidential candidate, later President George H.W. Bush, during the 1988 Republican National Convention, described American voluntarism (the willingness of Americans to help their neighbors) as "a thousand points of light."
One of those points of light is my friend Mr. Richard McPherson. Richard is the man who could implement Speaker Gingrich’s idea of reconstructing Puerto Rico’s electric grid so that it is both modernized and protected against EMP and all hazards.
Richard, in addition to being an international humanitarian, is also an expert on nuclear reactors, and has a company that designs modular nuclear reactors. In Richard’s vision, Puerto Rico’s destroyed big grid could be replaced with a decentralized system, so every city and major town would have its own independent source of electricity, supplied by a modular nuclear reactor, designed to survive EMP and all hazards.
Describing what one of the thousand points of light is doing to help Puerto Rico now is described in Richard’s letter to President Trump:
"Dear President Trump: In Puerto Rico, 3.6 million people need water, food, and electricity to subsist; to even live. The island’s potable water system is in ruins. Before the Hurricanes it was in trouble, with tests indicating about 95 percent of the water did not meet potable water drinking specifications.
"Before the Hurricanes, the islands food supply system was dependent on importing 85 percent of its supply. The hurricane wiped out the island agricultural industry.
"The government owned electricity generating, transmission and distribution system had decades of deferred maintenance, no modernizing, and was reportedly about $70 billion in debt.
"The hurricane easily damaged the already weakened system of about 2,400 miles of transmission, plus 31,000 miles of distribution lines requiring replacement to withstand hurricanes, along with ultimately Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) and cyber protected baseload carbon free electricity from small modular reactors, also needed in Guam and Hawaii.
"President Trump, you clearly demonstrated leadership in advance of the hurricanes to provide support for the island. . . .
"There is a team of experienced people, many trained by Admiral HG Rickover already organized to meet the challenges of Puerto Rico. . . . A team . . . you can depend on . . . doing what needs to be done. Management by exception we learned from Admiral Rickover head of Naval Reactors creating the most successful and complex industrial undertaking in the world – The U.S. Navy nuclear power program.
"In addition to the right team of people, we have been arranging long-term use of passenger vessels to be moored in Puerto Rico to support people involved in recovery and restoration in safety, without them being an added burden on the island.
"Along with the vessels are communications systems from AT&T, generators for electricity, and reverse osmosis systems for supplying potable water.
"We are people who have selflessly served this country for decades not for personal gain but because it was the right thing to do. Respectfully, Richard G. McPherson, Chairman & CEO Global Humanitarian Resources, Inc. Eagle, Idaho 83616."
Editor's Note: Richard G. PcPherson, during 1963-1983, spent time in the 11th Fleet Ballistic Submarine Patrol, and has also been involved in nuclear and national security since 1963. After retiring from the Navy, because of Chernobyl, Mr. McPherson was asked to be the U.S. Representative to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for four years on the combined subjects of Nuclear Fuel Cycle Facilities, the Environment, and Public Opinion." Since 9/11, I have served on critical infrastructure protection forums, including the U.S.-Japan Critical Protection Forum, consisting of 70 meetings.
Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security. He served in the Congressional EMP Commission, the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA. He is author of "Blackout Wars." For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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