Solar Storm Poses Massive Threat to the Grid

Brian Hicks

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted March 8, 2012

Thursday morning, at approximately 5:45 A.M, the forwardmost crest of a massive wave comprised of 10 billion tons of highly charged particles traveling at a speed of 4 million mph struck the Earth.

The charged particles flung towards the Earth were launched by the Sun after experiencing the largest coronal mass ejection since December 2006.

For the uninitiated, coronal mass ejections (CME) are huge explosions that take place on the sun, which shoot vast amounts of super heated particles, plasma, and electromagnetic waves into the cosmos.

It’s the electromagnetic waves ejected during these explosions that are most problematic as they can wreak havoc on electronic devices, most notably our electric grids.

Professor Allan Woodward of the University of Surry said the CME that struck the Earth early Thursday morning could be an early warning sign of an upcoming “Black Swan” event, an event so destructive it renders all computerized and mechanized systems useless.

According to the National Research Council solar storms of this magnitude cause irreversible damage to electrical grids by sending a surge of energy through them causing them to trip, leading to prolonged black outs.

More insidiously, due to the mechanization and digitalization of most of our essential functions, massive solar storms pose a serious threat to our transportation, communication, banking and financial and governmental systems. 

Potable Water transportation would come to a halt due to pump failures and perishable foods and medication would be lost from the lack of refrigeration.

The Center of Security and Policy estimates under these circumstances as much as 90% of the U.S population would be dead after the first year.

Less dramatic but equally problematic are estimates that suggest such a calamity would cause up to $2 trillion dollars worth of damage in the U.S alone.

While no problems have been recorded yet, Dr. Craig Underwood, Deputy Director of the Surrey Space Centre, said people should use the solar storm as a chance to really take account of just how utterly dependent the western modern world is on space technology and national grid infrastructure. 

Until next time,


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