Sen. David Farnsworth (R-Mesa), he of “constitutional” chickens fame, fears one day he will be living in the world of NBC’s post-apocalyptic science fiction television drama Revolution, the premise of which is that all electricity on Earth has been disabled and people are forced to adapt to a world without electricity.
His bill SB 1476 (.pdf), addresses his concerns about an electromagnetic pulse that can be caused by certain types of explosion.
According to a briefing prepared for legislators, a nuclear weapon blast on or near the ground (NEMP) can damage electrical systems and communications for 70 miles or more from the site. But a high-altitude nuclear (HEMP) weapon — exploded 15 miles or more above the surface — could damage electrical grids nationwide for weeks, if not or longer.
There are also non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse weapons (NNEMP) with a range much less than a nuclear EMP. Nearly all NNEMP devices require chemical explosives as their initial energy source, producing only a fraction of the energy from a nuclear weapon.
So we are really talking about nuclear weapons with a throw-weight and delivery system that only the world’s nuclear super powers possess. If the U.S. is exchanging nuclear weapons with another super power in a nuclear war, suffice it to say that the loss of electricity is going to be the least of your concerns. You and your “constitutional” chickens are already dead or dying.
And yet this post-apocalyptic nuclear survivalist fantasy actually passed the Arizona Senate on Thursday on a bipartisan vote. I can only presume the thinking was, “What the hell, humor him, what harm can it do?” The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports, Senate passes bill to help Arizonans survive disastrous electric pulse:
The Senate approved a measure directing Arizona officials to advise residents how to prepare for a disaster of Armageddon-like proportions.
SB1476 would require the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs to develop and issue recommendations for how to survive if an electromagnetic pulse hits Arizona or the entire United States, theoretically sending the country into a dark age.
The Senate voted 24-3 in favor of the measure, sending it on to the House.
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Sen. Dave Farnsworth, R-Mesa, speculates that a well-placed nuclear blast could generate a pulse that knocks out the state’s electricity, if not the country’s entire electric grid.
Farnsworth said the bill is in line with other proposals he’s sponsored this legislative session, including a measure to allow chickens to be raised in Arizonans’ backyards. He wants the state’s residents to be more self-sustaining.
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Farnsworth, said he learned of the seriousness of the topic while reading a [fictional] novel about a post-apocalyptic world brought to its knees by an EMP.
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In the event of a large-scale disaster such as an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, even the Arizona government’s disaster response efforts may not be enough to help residents survive, he said.
Arizonans may have a “false sense of security” that the government will always be capable of providing help and supplies.
And now Arizonans can have a “false sense of security” from post-apocalyptic nuclear survivalist fantasies.