The "Most Significant Danger" According To Elliott's Paul Singer

Tyler Durden's picture

While we have 'joked' about it in the past, Elliott Management's Paul Singer believes "there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence" - an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).




Not a laughing matter....

Exceprted from Elliott Management's latest letter from Paul Singer,


While these pages are typically overflowing with scary or depressing scenarios, there is one risk that stands way above the rest in terms of the scope of potential damage adjusted for the likelihood of occurrence. Even nuclear war is a relatively localized issue, except in its most extreme form. And the threat from asteroids can (possibly) be mitigated.

The risks associated with electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, represent another story entirely. It can occur naturally, from solar storms that send “coronal mass ejections,” which are massive energetic bursts of solar wind, tens of millions of miles in a mere few hours. Or it can be artificial, produced by a high-altitude (at least 15 miles) explosion of relatively low-yield (even Hiroshima-strength) nuclear weapons.

Different initiators of EMP have different pulses and different effects. But the bottom line is that EMP fries electronic devices, including parts of electric grids. In 1859, a particularly strong solar disturbance (the “Carrington Event”) caused disruption to the nascent telegraph network. It happened again with similar disruptions in 1921, before our modern power grid came into existence. A NASA study concluded these events have typically occurred around once per century. A repeat of the Carrington Event today would cause a massive disruption to the electric grid, possibly shutting it down entirely for months or longer, with unimaginable consequences.

Only two years ago, the sun let loose with a Carrington-magnitude burst, but the position of the earth at the time prevented the burst from hitting it. The chances of additional events of such magnitude may be far greater than most people think.

The artificial version of EMP, a kind of nuclear attack, would require between one and three high-altitude nuclear explosions to create its effect across all of North America. It would not cause any blast or radiation damage, but such an attack would have consequences even more catastrophic than a severe solar storm. It could not only bring down the grid, but also lay down a very intense, very fast pulse across the continent, damaging or destroying electronic switches, devices, computers and transformers across America.

There is no way to stop a naturally occurring EMP, and nuclear proliferation, combined with advances in weapons delivery systems, make the artificial version a distinct possibility, so the dangers are very real.

What can be done about this risk? Critical elements of the power grid and essential electronic devices can be hardened. Spare parts can be stockpiled for other, less critical hardware. Procedures can be developed as part of emergency preparedness so that the relevant government agencies and emergency response NGOs are ready to respond quickly and effectively to an episode large or small.

Why are we writing about EMP? Because in any analysis of societal risk, EMP stands all by itself. Congressional committees are studying this problem, and federal legislation is laboriously working its way through the process. We think that raising people’s consciousness about what should be an effort by both parties to make the country (and the world) safer from this kind of event is a good thing to do.

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fauxhammer's picture that some sort of Paul Allen conspiracy?

msmith9962's picture

EMP + Ebola and that should do it.  Thanks for coming folks.

SoberOne's picture

So should I feel justified for buying a mechanical safe for this very reason? EMPs, bitchez.

AlaricBalth's picture

EMP. Ebola. Russians. ISIS. China. Polar Vortex. Global Warming. Immigrants. So many MSM promoted perceived threats. However, none compare to the destruction being done by the USGov and the Federal Reserve. 

Time to bug out or make a stand.

redpill's picture

We're a single solar event away from the dark ages.  Have fun peeps!

NoDebt's picture

Does it surprise you it took them almost two years before they admit "ya know, we almost got fried in 2012, just FYI."

Raymond K Hessel's picture

Issue a zoning ordinance for industrial and office buildings to be built with Faraday Cages.

We have insulation from heat transfer in the exterior walls of all of homes and offices, no?  

Then would it be outrageous science fiction to have insulation from EMP inside the exterior walls of all of our factories and offices?

Think about it.

ZerOhead's picture

I'm in.

I could finally take off that itchy and unfashionable tinfoil hat I've been wearing. Of course it might make the NSA's job that much harder...

Stackers's picture

Dont foget the solar flare of 1859 either. Created auroras "bright enough to read a news paper by" as far south as the mid-atlantic. Mother Nature's EMP could be much much worse .... it could fry the grid of the entire planet and not just one country or region

DeadFred's picture

The earth's magnetic field which protects us from such things has decreased over 20% since the 1859 Carrington Event. It would affect us more today. Official estimates are that the death rate from a complete grid shutdown would be 50-90% of Americans within a year. East Coast more and the Midwest less. Putin can cause an EMP with high altitude nukes without any difficulty yet the Kenyan guy keeps poking at him with a stick. He can probably even do it without anyone being certain he was responsible. This is the scariest scenario I see out there.

Save_America1st's picture

Oh, I'm sure our gubment and the MIC are diligently working on a scenario by which they can self-inflict an EMP on us False Flag-style in order to blame it on Veterans, patriots, 2nd Amendment supporters, the TEA party, Ron Paul, and all the rest of us "domestic terrorists" who own nukes. ;-)

0b1knob's picture

The psychological term for these types of worries is DISPLACEMENT.

Take a recent college graduate.  They are typically deeply in debt, employed part time (at best) in a dead end job with little prospect of things getting better.   What is the most pressing problem in the world?   Why its GLOBAL WARMING of course.

Hopeless people worry about hypothetical unlikely or unavoidable events ( like global warming, asteroid impacts, EMP pulses ) to avoid facing their very real personal problems. 

Grow up.

Save_America1st's picture

c'mon, don't be so serious.  Don't get so worked up and have some fun with it.  You're just not getting into the spirit of the gloom and doom banter here. 

Herd Redirection Committee's picture

Any one have any good examples of EMPs being tested?   Because I know of plenty of nukes being tested, without EMP effects occuring.

svayambhu108's picture

This is BS, untested, we all have seen the Russian asteroid explosion!

espirit's picture

Desensitivation Psy-Op inprog.

This world will have an unmitigated de-pop event at any time?

Woo-Hoo, CalvinBall is the name of the game.

jcaz's picture

Bullish for BitCoin.....   BUWAHAHAHHAHAHAHHH!!!!!!!!!

Keyser's picture

ob1 forgets we are all but grist for the mill... 

Save_America1st's picture

most nukes were blasted off under ground.  They say for a EMP effect a nuke would have to be blow up in the atmosphere at least 15 miles up. 

Or it seems the U.S. may have EMP bombs that aren't nuclear:

Apparently N.Korea has EMP bombs from Russia?  (now I know where Tyler got the cool graphic pic for his article) ;-)

And apparently we also have EMP guided missles that just fly through your city frying the shit out of everything in it's path selectively frying specific targets.

Here's the video simulation...thanks Boeing!!!

And of course they found a cute nick-name for it too:  Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project (CHAMP)

It will also blast "We are the Champions" as it flies by or "The Ride of the Valkyries" to really freak out the natives...

espirit's picture

I have a little problem believing a high altitude nuke burst poses no radiation hazard.

Gamma must be misunderstood by the author.

SF beatnik's picture

I'm reminded of having once read about a prankster device that could be constructed of transformers, a large capacitor, and some sort of picosecond power diode,  these fed by a bank of lead acid batteries, all to be placed in back of a pickup truck.

Would wipe out all electronics in the neighborhood, they say.

The pulse can even be focused into a narrow beam, should that suit one's purposes. 
Parrotile's picture

Plenty of decent power, HV stuff can be "harvested" from old microwave ovens.The transformers (if wired as a centre-tapped pair) are good for 3kv at 100mA, and the capacitors are usually high kV rated, along with the HV diodes (that act as a voltage doubling step, a la Cockroft-Walton).

It is "interesting" to wire the o/p from an MOT secondary across another MOT primary. Depending on the manufacturer, many survive for a "reasonable time" - i.e. time enough to use the VERY high kV output for interesting purposes. Best not to try this with the cheaper Chinese MOTs - their secondaries tend to experience "cascade failure" - looks good though (check out Youtube!)

Dark Space's picture

The EMP effects don't occur with ground or subterranean detonations, which are the ones you're referencing as "plenty of nukes being tested". You want high altitude detonations like in Operation Hardtack. There have been fewer of these tests and they had devestating effects - google Hardtack as an example that the US executed. The russians have done similar tests with similarly devestating effects. Most of these were performed pre-Woodstock era when it was open season on nuclear testing.

TBT or not TBT's picture

Google "Starfish Prime" a high altitude nuke test over the Pacific that first introduced the U.S. military to EMP effects. The Soviets had observed this sooner and studied it more comprehensively. That's one reason they stuck with vacuum tube and discrete electronics so much longer than we did. These days, you can be certain EMP attacks would be part of any big power's pre-prepared strike packages against any other big power. It's part of M.A.D. The bigger concern in terms of man-made EMP would be wealthy non-state actors, or psycho-states acting surreptitiously, to launch nuclear tipped IRBM's to detonations above the atmosphere of their designated enemies. It would be a very cost effective infidel genocide.

DeadFred's picture

The first EMP effect was noticed at the first atomic test despite Fermi insisting all circuits be hardened to resist the expected pulse. The high altitude megaton+ blast above the Pacific in '62 "Starfish Prime" damaged electroics in Hawaii 900 miles away. Circuirs are much more vulnerable now and blasts can be much bigger. Plus EMPs have been researched for decades since then to 'perfect' it as a weapon of war. The good part is that it doesn't produce much fallout so the cannibals won't be consuming many rads with their meals.

AlaricBalth's picture

Read this report: The electro-magnetic pulse produced by a nuclear bomb explosion high above the atmosphere. J. Steinberger Sept. 2006

Introduction. This article discusses the electromagnetic pulse produced by a high, exoatmospheric nuclear explosion, commonly abbreviated HEMP. The gamma rays produced in the nuclear explosion above the atmosphere produce electrons in the atmosphere by Compton scattering.

July 8 1962, 11 PM the "Starfish" test, a 1.4 Megaton nuclear explosion at an altitude 400 km above Johnston island, could be "observed" from the Hawaiian islands, 1200 km to the west. This event had been announced previously and according to the newspapers, the population joyfully anticipated it. According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin of the next two days 8), the sky lit up bright blue, as in daylight, for some seconds, streetlights on Ferdinand St. In Manoa and Kawainui St. In Kailua went out the instant the bomb went off, and "police were sent off to a South St. warehouse, when a burglar alarm started ringing at the time of the blast".. Fuses blew out in Kasmuki, Kahala, Kaluji, Maili, Wajanae, Makaha, Wahsaura, Kailua and Sandy Beach, and the Federal Aviation Agency reported occasional radio communication blackouts over a period of two hours. These reports, of Honolulu street lights going out, burglar alarms sounding, and circuit breakers popping are frequently cited as evidence for the danger posed by the HEMP, but such things happen also without nuclear bomb explosions, and the connection cited with the nuclear explosion of these incidences are far from clear. The outstanding fact seems to be that life went on normally in Hawaii, during and after the Starfish test, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin appeared normally the next day. In response to such an article citing these alleged Starfish effects 9), there are answers by Alan S. Lloyd, Manager, Consumer Services, Hawaiian Electric Company 10) stating categorically that "there was absolutely no adverse effect on our utility power and communications system on the island of Oahu where the city of Honolulu is located", and by E.C. Schoen, Chief Engineer, Hawaiian Telephone Company, that, in connection with these nuclear bomb tests "No one, that I have talked to, can recall any increase in troubles associated with telephone sets or any other type of difficulty" Damage to microelectronics. One of the often cited dangers of electro-magnetic pulses is damage to microelectronics, a very important element of our modern society.

So, as with other fear mongering scare tactics utilized in the past, the question must be asked, who benefits financially from hardening the power grid and other systems from a HEMP event?

viahj's picture

uhmm, referring to the part that you highlighted, that blast was 1200km away and still had effects in Hawaii.  now imagine if the blast was overhead.

AlaricBalth's picture
From the report:As noted above, the Hawaiian systems were not disrupted by the Starfish (or other) high altitude nuclear test. I am not capable to estimate the damaging effects to be expected. It should be noted that although it is sometimes asserted that the voltages could propagate and build up on the network lines for hundreds of kilometres, and therefore become extremely large, it is my understanding that this is false, that the electric field cannot build up over greater distances than the order of the coherence length, that is, the pulse length, 50 nanosec*c = 15m.
TBT or not TBT's picture

They had only vacuum tubes back then. Those take EMP effects in stride. Modern ICs FET oxide insulators have microscopic thinness.

Real Estate Geek's picture

Take a pound of salt with HECO's assertions of system reliability--those numbskulls have a hard time supplying surge-free power on their best days.

Parrotile's picture

The fact that the USA, Russia, China and no doubt others have happily spent many tens or hundreds of million $$s on EMP weapon research indicates that someone, somewhere knows that an EMP weapon woould have "useful effects", hence all that (costly) R&D.

One very significant difference between now, and the Starfish Prime era, is the ubiquitous global distribution of SCADA systems, the design of which is more concerned with maximising performance per $ spent (both as initial CapEx, and as recurrent costs). This  customer-driven mindset has not led to the development of "EMP robust" systems and architecture, with a few exceptions where such systems are intended to work in electrically noisy environments.

It is a bit disingenuous to compare the "effects reported" then (assuming the reportage was not directed by the Military to "tone down" the reported effect for propaganda reasons), and the effects on our globally interconnected systems in the early 21st century.

Proofreder's picture

in 1962, the USA tested a 1.44-megaton nuclear EMP (Starfish Prime) above the Pacific Ocean that caused electrical damage 900 miles away in Hawaii. Kiloton-yield nukes are very effective as well, and to maximize the size of the EMP it’s actually better for the nuke to be fission, rather than a thermonuclear H-bomb. If a big EMP was detonated above the USA, the E1 burst would probably melt most of the electronics within 1,000 miles or so, and it would take only three to blanket the U$A. Danial Boone Days are here again.

As always, your government is keeping you safe ... with experts looking into everything.   Like NSA.  (they don't tell us what they find)  Government secrecy - the ultimate oxymoron.

Debt-Is-Not-Money's picture


The 9th of this month was the 50th anniversary of Starfish Prime, a 1.4 MT nuke we detonated 248 miles up in the South Pacific:

Itgoestoeleven's picture

unless you can build a faraday cage around the hundreds of Nuke power plants, I would not worry. I heard they are not very safe unless they have complelx electronic controls. Can you say fukushima x 500.

TuPhat's picture

It is exactly the opposite of what you say.  They will automatically shut down as in no criticality without all those electronic systems functioning.  All the US reactors are designed and built with fail safe mechanisms.  That means that in the event of a failure of anything to operate properly the plant will shut itself down.  The only thing to worry about is the spent fuel.  You can thank the anti nuke people for that problem.  All the nuclear plants would love to process the spent fuel and use it until it is harmless but the anti nukes make sure the gov won't allow it.

Dublinmick's picture

You live in a dream world skippy.

(San Francisco) – Feb 28, 2014 – Carlsbad, New Mexico is the site of the nation’s only nuclear weapons program garbage dump. Plutonium is used in making The Bomb, it melts at 640 Deg C or 1,184 Deg F, and is made in reactors. It is not mined anywhere on Earth. Reactors exist to make Bombs.


Black Smoke from Plutonium Fire at Nuke Garbage Dump Source Current Argus

The Carlsbad Bomb making garbage dump is on fire. The burning radioactive metal does not go away, it turns to dense black radioactive smoke. The black smoke is very obvious in the daytime and it streamed from several ventilator shafts during a fire at the dump two weeks ago.

The shafts were then closed and the visible smoke kept underground. Plutonium does not need oxygen to burn and escaped anyway. The HEPA filters are not good enough to contain the very small Plutonium particles; that’s because nothing is. The fire very well could still be burning Plutonium and Uranium in the salt mine.

The special Bomb making isotopes catch fire easily and burn at unearthly high temperatures – nothing can contain a fire in the underground garbage dump.  Since Uranium and Plutonium burn at higher temperatures than rock salt, there is a remote possibility the underground dump itself is on fire.

This is all about the contaminated garbage left over from making nuclear and thermonuclear bombs. That is the source of the poisonous garbage buried 2200 ft, or 670.56 meters, beneath the southeastern New Mexico desert.

WIPP Pu239 Dispersion by wind Carlsbad New Mexico

The nation manufactures and maintains more than 60,000 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. Bomb production has not necessarily stopped. All the contaminated garbage, trucks, tools, junk, wipes and clothes, etc from 70 years plus of nuclear weapons production is stuffed down a hole in New Mexico.

13 People Poisoned So Far

As of Feb 28, 2014 the mine operator, a private corporation, had announced that 13 employees were radiologically contaminated inside their bodies. The poison will probably kill them all. Dog studies done with living animals show us how they will die. From the few reports that surfaced in the past two weeks enough plutonium was released to kill 35,500 people.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has legal title to all the nation’s thermonuclear weapons and is one point of possible responsibility. The DOE announced six areas of potential contamination spreading outward from the garbage dump.

All adults in the First Contamination Zone, up to 100 miles or 160km, from the Carlsbad dump are eligible for free whole body scans. This is of little value in Plutonium Contamination since it is a different form of radioactive energy. The expensive scans take about an hour and, of course, will find nothing. That’s a  typical Scam of the DOE.

It’s amazing. A normal human couldn’t make this up if they tried. That’s life in the DOE and the nation’s nuclear weapons program. It is just bizarre.


Copyright by Bob Nichols Mar 2, 2014. All rights reserved. Distribute with credit and all Notes and Sources. Reach Bob Nichols at

JLee2027's picture

We don't control the Sun so I agree. No point in getting worked up about it.

toady's picture

I wouldn't call it worrying, just prudent planning, being aware of possibilities.

It gives us folks without things to worry about something to ponder.

Headbanger's picture

Actually, they do!

Have you mooks ever heard of "Tempest" EMP proof buildings built since the Cold War days to withstand nuke attck EMPs?

There's also plenty of underground military and private facilities (like old salt mines) which are EMP proof

Submerged submariens are immune too.

Power grids... not so much.

toady's picture

I worked in at&t switching buildings that were hardened like that.

Old fifties era bomb shelter signs, most of the cable-heavy stuff (trunks) on the third subterranean floor or lower, meetings with the mayor and his disaster recovery planning committee biannually.

I still have a backdoor into one if it comes to that...

Goldbugger's picture

Hey Toady: I visited one of those at&t switching centers once to fix a mainframe back in the 80's. It was in the middle of a farm field. There wasa  small shed the size of an  elevator and it was an elevator. Pushed the button the the guy came up and we went down three floors.

Muppet's picture

Chicago deep-tunnel.  Massive underground bunker and UMB (underground military base).   An amazingly successful and covert project.   Its size is amazing.   On youtube, you can see the world's largest cranes and earthmovers being lowered into the deep tunnel.   The tunnels run for tens of miles, hundreds in total.   Work continues but is now far enough along that no one on the surface need know or see any evidence.     

teslaberry's picture

no retard, the reason ionizing radiation would affect earth more now is because we have electricty, a distribution grid with  wires and electronic devices everywhere. 

places in africa would have zero clue there was any bad outcomes from an emp, other than the west having less money to buy their shit the next week. 


and the shadow result of ionzing radation that is no doubt classified by government is how well military sattelites shielding can deal with a thresh-hold of radation before being temporarily if not permanently destroyed. 



'sattelites are constantly dealing wiith rapidly varrying amounts of electrons and protons helium ions and and even moderate  energy neutrons . furthermore ionzed space dust . the question is , would the likelihood of world war escalate and, to whose benefit, shoudl a solar storm knock out a sufficient number of some powerful nations sattlites. 


chumbawamba's picture

You know who also won't notice the affects of an EMP?  The people of Gaza.

Fuck you, shit eating monkey.

I am Chumbawamba.

Dublinmick's picture

Can I up that one 100 times?


I am with Chumbawamba

Fukushima Sam's picture

You all know what happens to nuclear power plants when they lose their cooling systems!

Save_America1st's picture

the Japanese will build ice walls around them for us???  They should have that technology mastered by now, right???