From all of the references to EMP in popular culture over the last decade or so, every example save one I can think of show the world sent back to pre-Edison days, where everything is done by candle or gas lamp. The single outlier is Agents of SHIELD, where The Watchdogs use an EMP device to shut down cities, by keeping the EMP devices going, but Robbie Reyes’ car, a 1969 Dodge Charger, still runs. This raises some questions.
Everything I’ve heard prior to about a decade ago says that EMP disables “electronics” meaning appliances and such, but not wires or the ability to plug some things in. So, the question I have is this, for homes with a generator or solar panels, or another generation method (hydroelectric or wind), would they be able to power lights, refrigerators, etc. I know televisions, radios, cell phones, computers, etc, will not work after an EMP goes off, as the circuits are fried, but something like an electric range, refrigerator, washer/dryer, etc, are still in many regards, very basic. In my case, my refrigerator is an “apartment model,” meaning it is just the condenser and pump for coolant, nothing else as even the lights don’t work.
My truck, and my parents’ and nephew’s car, sadly, are all new enough that they would be useless, and that would be the case for many people, but for many in trucking and railroad, their vehicles are not updated to where they have computing or other “electronic” components. I know the locomotives my father operated in the 70’s and 80’s would still run as the only electronics were the governors and radios, the engine’s only “electrical” components were the bits that acted as spark plugs do in a car, so a small jolt to ignite fuel to keep things going. California’s move to say that trucks made after a certain date are all that can be used in the state, simply, shows that they know there are a lot of trucks on the road that are “a good bit older.”
So, the question is, simply, would an EMP, of any size, truly be a “total collapse of all modern things,” or would, within a few days or weeks, would some trucks/trains/etc be back up and running, would people with solar or generators be able to run their fridge and maybe even cook? More simply than that, is this being hyped into a massive scare tactic?