We’ve been warned. In 2004, the Commission to Assess the Threat of the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) reported that “EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.” Yet, Congress has done next to nothing to protect the U.S. from an EMP attack.

As my colleague, Baker Spring explains an EMP can occur when a nuclear weapon is detonated high in the atmosphere above the Earth. The resulting explosion interacts with the Earth’s magnetic fields, sending a pulse, or current, throughout all electrical systems. Nearly everything we depend on from day to day would be affected. Imagine a world without computers, ATMS, cell phones, water systems, the internet, ambulances and even cars. The U.S. would essentially be knocked back to the 19th century.

The idea may seem abstract, but the threat is real. Nearly 30 nations have the ballistic missile capabilities needed to launch such an attack, and reports have circulated that Iran, North Korea, Russia, and China have worked towards achieving EMP capabilities.

Given the magnitude of the threat, it is due time for the U.S. to work towards building a suitable defense against EMP attacks by hardening the nation’s critical infrastructure. If properly shielded, the nation’s infrastructure could survive even the strongest attack.

Join The Heritage Foundation tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Lehrman Auditorium at “Keeping a Finger on Electromagnetic Pulse,” part of the Science and Technology series, as experts discuss technologies available to help harden critical infrastructure and defend the nation from the EMP threat.