7 Conclusion |
93. While successive Governments, both in the
UK and elsewhere, have long been aware of the threat to national
infrastructure from military EMP it is only in the last two years
that there has been serious work on the risks from space weather.
94. Space weather can, to some extent, be forecast,
and when it can be forecast some mitigating action can be taken.
More work is necessary, both on forecasting capabilities and on
establishing more exactly the likely effects. While the scientific
community is doing much work on this, it is important that Government-
and indeed governments, since this is an international problem-
take a still more active role in driving it forward.
95. Much of the current mitigation strategy involves
pre-emption and quick recovery rather than protection or prevention,
but more work is also needed on how equipment may be protected,
either on installation or retrospectively, to withstand the effects
of severe space weather
96. While mitigation of the effects of severe
space weather is, in the first instance, for the providers of
the services likely to be affected, the effects of a High Altitude
Electro-Magnetic Pulse Event, as a result of a nuclear weapon
exploded at high altitude, would be so serious that only government
action could be expected to mitigate it. We are concerned that
the Government does not regard this as currently being a high
risk and urge that more vigorous action should be taken to prepare
for such an attack. Similarly, an urgent reassessment should be
made of the risk from non-nuclear EMP attack on vital national
97. The consequences of EMP
events must be addressed specifically: generic civil contingency
plans which address blackouts and temporary loss of electronic
infrastructure caused by a range of events are not sufficient.
Space weather is a global threat and may affect many regions and
countries simultaneously. This means that there is scope for mutual
assistance, but also that there is no safe place from which it
can be assumed that help will come. It is time that the Government
began to approach this matter with the seriousness it deserves.