Cryptocurrencies are growing in popularity and function. Bitcoin has gone from being a fringe tech idea to a household name. But one of the chief concerns of many preppers is the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). There are ways to survive an EMP, but can Bitcoin survive an EMP attack? For that matter, can any cryptocurrency. Can you recover it from your brain wallet when the grid eventually comes back on?
The short answer is yes, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies will survive an EMP because the public ledger that it is recorded on is decentralized across many computers all over the world. That’s just scratching the surface of this article, however. Read on…
Cryptocurrencies and Coronal Mass Ejections
Coronal mass ejections (CMES), electromagnetic pulses (EMPs), whatever the cause, they result in one of the big SHTF situations we all prepare for.
It’s not an unreasonable fear. North Korea has threatened to use such an attack against the United States, Iran has vowed to destroy us, and numerous other nations and groups of people would like to see the U.S. in ruins. The threat is so real that the U.S. government backed a detailed analysis of just what an EMP would mean for the US, a treatise which is known as the EMP Commission Report.
Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies
Another subject that a growing number of preppers are interested in is Bitcoin. I know the prepper arguments against Bitcoin. The grid goes down, a wild pandemic hits, natural disasters strike, etc. What do you do with your Bitcoin then? You can’t eat it. You can’t burn it for heat. You can’t use it for self defense. These are the same arguments against holding gold for SHTF, only more so, at least with gold you can hold it in your hand. And even then, you are probably better off holding silver.
Bitcoin Prepper Benefits
This decentralized truly has a large number of benefits to its use, however. and there are plenty of arguments to own some, particularly for the many preppers who don’t believe in fiat currency and object to the dollar being decoupled from the gold standard.
Bitcoin is finite. You can’t “print” more Bitcoin like the federal reserve prints money. For libertarian-leaning individuals, Bitcoin is far more removed from government regulation than most other assets classes. Bitcoin provides an (relatively) anonymous form of payment, and is becoming increasingly convenient to purchase and trade.
Bitcoin is here to stay. If the concept of Bitcoin, how it works, and how to buy Bitcoin is still new to you, don’t despair. Many people are still coming up to speed. Bitcoin, and the blockchain system as a whole, is still like the early days of the internet. It’s digital and it’s growing in use.
But… an EMP
Digital hardware and EMPs are like oil and water. They don’t play together well. Books such as Lights Out, One Second After, and numerous others have all detailed to us the importance of being properly prepared for an EMP strike and what the daily ramifications of such an event would be.
Is there any point to investing in something digital like Bitcoin if there’s a possibility that it could all be wiped out by the very real threat known as an EMP? Would an EMP completely disintegrate one’s Bitcoin savings in such an event?
Let’s take a closer look…
Bitcoin is Decentralized via Blockchain
One of Bitcoin’s greatest advantage, and the advantage of most cryptocurrencies, is that it’s decentralized. Unlike the Federal Reserve, or any other form of centralized bank, Bitcoin is not at the mercy of a small group of individuals who can do what they want to the money supply. It operates on a public ledger spread out across many computers all over the place. This makes it exceptionally secure. Hacking one computer system is much easier than hacking many independent systems all at the same time.
It is this decentralization – the very concept of a blockchain – that protects your Bitcoin investment from any EMP attack. A blockchain is a chain of data built with organized collections of recent transactions that have been securely recorded in “blocks.” Any time that you make a transaction with Bitcoin, you help to add a block to the blockchain.
As such, in order for an EMP to destroy Bitcoin it would have to take out computers and files all around the planet that hold information on the blockchain. This is essentially impossible. Yes, you could cover the world in EMPs, or a CME could strike the planet, but really – neither would hit everywhere. These would (largely) be localized events, only having a minor impact on the global blockchain.
So, while the U.S. could lose power from an EMP attack, the blockchain would still exist in other areas of the world, and thus, Bitcoin would still exist. The only catch here is that you would have to have your password memorized or written down to reclaim the Bitcoin from your wallet. If you didn’t have that information, then like other people today, you wouldn’t have access to your Bitcoin either.
Bitcoin Can Be Sent by Ham Radio or Satellite
The ability to make transactions across vast distances is likely going to require an internet connection, but the fact of the matter is that you could theoretically transfer Bitcoin via radio, satellite, Morse code, or other analog methods. In fact, there are some people who have actively send Bitcoin by amateur radio.
You’d have to know your public wallet address for people to send the Bitcoin to, and they’d have to know their own information, but given those – you’d be set. You just need to know how to use a ham radio.
There are also satellites for Bitcoin. This makes it possible for anybody who can access these leased satellites to successfully download the software to create their own node. The equipment needed to access this satellite is minimal, too. All you’d need would be a generator, a wi-fi hotspot, a Raspberry Pi, and the appropriate software and you could be making transactions in the middle of the Saharan Desert.
These satellites add an extra layer of protection to Bitcoin’s survivability. Bitcoin can be beamed anywhere in the world except for Antarctica (sorry, penguins). So, even if there were an EMP attack against the States, provided that you had the means to be able to access the Blockchain satellite (via Faraday cage protected equipment) you’d still be in business.
Bitcoin Survives a Coronal Mass Ejection Too
A CME is a particularly nasty form of EMP. This would involve the sun shooting out a massive burst of energy that would fry the majority of the electronics on the planet. It has happened before (in the 1800s was the last time we had one of these super solar flares), and there is always the possibility that it could happen again.
Despite this hairier situation, Bitcoin would still be fine. The side of the earth facing the sun when a CME hits would be where most electronic equipment becomes inoperable. The dark side of the earth would make out alright.
How to Further Protect Bitcoin from an EMP
While your Bitcoin is almost certainly safe on the blockchain after an EMP, you would still need to make sure you have the wherewithal to access your funds. Crypto enthusiasts know this means making sure you have a secure wallet and you have kept copies of your key phrases in a safe place.
Hard wallets offer the best protection. Hard wallets are the equivalent of holding physical gold. Rather than having some other entity hold your Bitcoin on your behalf, you are taking your coins entirely offline, out of others’ custody, and keeping them secure and entirely inaccessible – unless the error happens on your end – you lose your password or hard wallet.
In the picture above you can see my Ledger Nano S. That is probably the most popular hard wallet used by crypto enthusiasts. If an EMP/CME is a concern, you can add an additional layer of protection by storing that wallet inside a Faraday-type cellphone bag from Mission Darkness. They specialize in selling protective gear for electronics and EMPs. Use coupon code “SHTFBLOG” for an additional 5% off at Mission Darkness.
Advantages of Owning Bitcoin Post-Collapse
There’s an entire section of the EMP Commission Report detailing the damage that would take place throughout the financial institutions throughout the U.S. after an EMP. Basically, we’d be screwed. Every bank, the entire stock market, all online investment accounts – we’d lose a lot of information. Post-pulse, you wouldn’t have access to bank funds.
You would show up at the bank along with hundreds of other people doing your best to withdraw your cash, and you’d have absolutely no luck as the bank would have no reliable means of updating and keeping track of how much money each person has available. Even if they did, the run on the bank would quickly lead to demand outpacing the actual supply of cash within the bank’s vaults, and the bank would soon institute a limit to how much could be withdrawn per customer before shutting its doors. If you were one of the lucky people who was able to actually withdraw your allotted amount, you’d be at an extreme risk of violence. A desperate man is a dangerous man.
Furthermore, your cash would very quickly prove to be worthless. It would only be a matter of time before people realize that greenbacks aren’t even worth the money that they’re printed on, and any purchases you make with cash should be made as soon as possible post-pulse while they still have purchasing power. After that – once people realize that food, water, and heat are much more important – the USD would lose all of its value. Nobody would want it.
Bigger Problems than Money After an EMP
I understand that one of the reasons people store ammo, guns, food, alcohol, silver, and gold is as a form of currency in a post-disaster world. As long as there are humans on the planet, there will always be the need for barter and payment for goods and services. Even without electricity, wealth still has power.
However, the EMP Commission Report found that 90% of Americans would be dead within the span of one year. This would be the result of disease, lack of healthcare, starvation, thirst, exposure to the elements, and violence. While Bitcoin could help you to purchase the weapons, ammunition, medicine, healthcare, protection, and food that you would need in order to stay alive, there are a lot of other problems that it wouldn’t take care of.
To begin with, production would virtually cease. As Adam Smith pointed out in his Wealth of Nations (and as Ayn Rand echoes in many of her books), production is true wealth. Factories and commercial farms throughout the country would no longer be able to produce the goods that they were able to when the power was on. Trucks would not be able to deliver necessary goods and equipment into urban areas.
Purchasing power may not be the problem. The lack of goods to buy would be. You can have all the Bitcoin in the world, but if there’s no food around you to buy, there’s no food. If there’s quite simply no ammunition to purchase, there’s no ammunition.
So, can Bitcoin survive an EMP? You bet. As you can see, there’s really not much to worry about when it comes to Bitcoin being wiped out. The very nature of the decentralized blockchain – perhaps the greatest benefit of Bitcoin – makes it virtually impervious against an EMP attack, hacking, or other attempts to disrupt the system.
What are your thoughts? Are you buying Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments section.