Monday, November 26, 2012

Could a solar event spark food riots and meltdowns - one scientist says yes

C3-class Solar Flare Erupts on Sept. 8, 2010 [...
C3-class Solar Flare Erupts on Sept. 8, 2010 [Detail] (Photo credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video)

Read about “The Carrington Event” -- a massive solar flare that hit Earth in 1859. 

If Earth is struck by a large solar flare, some in the scientific community believe:

* The planet will be hit with a widespread loss of power.
* Air travel would be grounded.
* Nuclear plants would be crippled and without sufficient back-up power, dozens could meltdown.
* Satellites would be disabled, causing a serious loss of communication in all areas (military and civilian).
* Food and medicine would be in short supply, setting up the potential for food riots within days of an outage.

The same scientists who believe that a large solar strike could lead to a very rapid societal breakdown say that steps to avoid the problem are available and at a relatively low cost to all of us. What is a “relatively low cost?” They estimate the amount of money needed to insulate the power grid (and ourselves) from trouble to be less than one dollar per American. But Congress said “no” to their proposal.

Is there really cause for concern?

Over the next fourteen months Earth will be on high alert for a huge burst of electromagnetic energy from the sun. This powerful pulse is known as a “Solar Maximum” – an event that could cause catastrophic damage to power grids and communications systems. The peak time for the next big flare is sometime between now and the end of 2013. This possibility has scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on alert. Tom Bogdan, the director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, is monitoring the situation as closely as possible. Read more >>

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