Worry about a mega-solar storm not just fiction

 

Power-grid-down-solar-stormSince releasing STONE AGE in April, I’ve received many questions from readers and media about the viability of a mega-solar storm taking out our world’s technology, starting with our American power grid.  We’ll I hate to say, “I told you so!” But, in a way, that’s what I am now saying.

BusinessWeek, yesterday ‘reported’ (http://buswk.co/1qdJaJF) about the many businesses already planning around current solar storms and the potential for future giant ones. For instance, did you know that Delta Airlines has to reroute dozens of flights per year because of the destruction solar storms play on air-to-ground communications?

They even waxed a little apocalyptic when they quoted a National Academy of Sciences’ report from 2008 which said,

a severe [solar] storm could disable hundreds of the U.S. grid’s high-voltage transformers, leaving more than 130 million people in the dark for months.

You might want to re-read this again, and really consider what that means. We’re talking most of America is without power for “MONTHS!” This is not the stuff of fiction, this is real science.

It’s true there are some dissenters as to the scale of destruction, but no one doubts we would have big-time problems if another Carrington Event occurred in our lifetimes.

And what are we doing to protect ourselves? Very little. A jolt from a large CME (coronal mass ejection) from the sun will fry most of our nation’s giant transformers, bringing down our grid for a long time. Keep in mind each of these giant transformers cost $millions and almost two years to replace – that’s when the power is working! Oh, and consider most transformers are manufactured overseas, not here. Yet, if each transformer were shielded, it could withstand all the sun cares to dish out. Some state governments are making investments in protecting their grid, but there are very few and they are spending way to little to make a big difference.

The solution is simple. Rather than spending $billions to find questionable solutions to debatable a man-made global warming issue, we need to redirect these funds to protecting our grid. To properly shield from a mega-solar storm the 4000 or so transformers that represent the most important components of our power grid will cost about $200 billion (by some estimates). However, if we continue to do nothing and another Event occurs in our lifetimes, we could easily be facing $trillions in losses to our economy, not to mention the mass death that most certainly would occur.

Sorry to be so bleak folks, but we are getting warnings daily and yet we are doing nothing about it. I’m reminded of the sermon joke I’ve heard many times given at the pulpit at my church and I’m sure many others:

A hurricane was coming and the town’s sheriff knew about a hold-out who had not headed previous warning to leave to higher ground. So, the sheriff told this man – we’ll call him Thomas – “Hey Thomas, you need to leave because this whole area is going to flood.”

Thomas said, “Thanks sheriff, but I know that God will protect me, I’m staying!” And with that the sheriff drove off.

Later, the hurricane roared in and Thomas’ house was flooding and so a boat with an aid-worker pulled up to Thomas’s 2nd floor window and yelled on a loudspeaker, “You need to come with us because you will surely drown if you stay.”

Thomas yelled back out the window, “Thanks, but I know God will protect me, I’m staying!”

A short time later, the flood waters were up to the roof’s edge, and a Coast Guard helicopter spotted Thomas on the roof and sent a rope down and on the loud speaker announced, “Mister, you need to come with us or you will surely drown.”

Thomas, signaled back to him, “I’m fine! God will protect me.  Go.”

Thomas drowned!

In heaven, Thomas asked God, “I don’t understand Lord, I am a faithful servant, why did you let me die?”

God said, “Thomas, I sent you the Sheriff in a car, then I sent you an aid-worker in a boat, and then I sent you the Coast Guard in a helicopter. How much more warning did you need?”

Indeed, how much more warning do we need?

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