Ok, so this one is one of the more scary ones. There just isn’t a lot we can do about it… but it is very real. It has happened before.
The sun is a little over 8 minutes away, as the light flies. It is 865,000 miles across, and a million times the volume of Earth.
It is a huge ball of fusion explosions… and the massive quantities of radioactive materials that bombard our planet. Providentially there is an amazing magnetic shield that deflect most of this lethal bath, otherwise, no life could exist here.
However, there are times when the explosions are more than the field can completely handle… this happens from time to time… and most of the time, they may damage some satellites, or disrupt some systems. But, listen to this…
One day in 1859, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras that are looked for in Alaska, were pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.
Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted!
The explosion produced not only a surge of visible light but also a mammoth cloud of charged particles and detached magnetic loops—a “CME”—and hurled that cloud directly toward Earth. The next morning when the CME arrived, it crashed into Earth’s magnetic field, causing the global bubble of magnetism that surrounds our planet to shake and quiver. Researchers call this a “geomagnetic storm.” Rapidly moving fields induced enormous electric currents that surged through telegraph lines and disrupted communications.
Again in 1989, another series of large solar flares hit. Auroras could be seen as far south as Texas… and blocked weather satellites communications… but was much less powerful than in 1859. Power was lost in Quebec power networks… in some cases for 9 hours.
The same level of flares in 1859 could potentially seriously disrupt or outright destroy unprotected electrical systems. That was annoying in 1859… but what about now?
Some more protection of extremely vital lines has been put into place… but apparently not most. Could we potentially lose most electricity? The internet? Satellites? Phone, cell, GPS, weather reporting, credit cards, refrigeration, gas pumps, etc? All of these are potential consequences of a major solar flare.
Could you live for a month without electricity and the things that it brings? Who knows how long it would take for the system to reset?
Not trying to be science fiction here… this unlikely to happen again anytime soon, but it has happened before naturally. Further, as nuclear bombs are more common, a small scale nuke detonated at the right altitude can create the same effect in a more localized way. This is considered the most pressing threat against the well-being of the USA by some. Prepared for this eventuality? I will probably talk more about terrorism in a later article.