In an instant, life as we know it could cease to exist. An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) could permanently disable the nation’s critical infrastructure dependent on electrical systems. As panicked people run to the phones to dial 911, their calls are answered only by silence.

Caused by either detonation of a nuclear weapon at high altitude or unusually powerful solar activity, the results of an EMP event would be devastating. As Heritage’s James Carafano explains:

Communications would collapse, transportation would halt, and electrical power would simply be nonexistent. Not even a global humanitarian effort would be enough to keep hundreds of millions of Americans from death by starvation, exposure, or lack of medicine. Nor would the catastrophe stop at U.S. borders. Most of Canada would be devastated, too, as its infrastructure is integrated with the U.S. power grid. Without the American economic engine, the world economy would quickly collapse. Much of the world’s intellectual brain power (half of it is in the United States) would be lost as well. Earth would most likely recede into the “new” Dark Ages.

Yet, despite the fact that the EMP threat represents a clear and present danger for the United States, little has been done to protect the nation. While Congress and the Administration have the ability to help protect the United States from this grave threat, by funding comprehensive missile defense and developing a national recovery plan, they remain mired in inaction.

This year on August 15, the eighth anniversary of the 2003 east coast blackout that left 55 million without power and provided a small taste of the potential effects of an EMP event, Congress should establish National EMP Awareness Day. If, just for one day, Congress simulated even a fraction of the impact such an attack would have, the scope of the danger would be clear.

To learn more, join us at Heritage on August 15 for a keynote panel discussion on “National EMP Recognition Day: The Threat That Can’t Be Ignored.”