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I read this story about a week ago and I'm surprised at how little coverage and discussion it has received. There has been so much hype about Global Warming that you'd think a story like this, which is not merely hypothetical but rather a very real threat and something which has occurred before, would be the hottest topic in the scientific world. Why aren't we talking? Where's the plan of action? How does this happen? What are we going to do about it? Where are the liberal saviors of the environment and humanity when we need them?

Could it be that they are silent because this is actually a known phenomenon? Is it possible that when we are faced with something we can quantify, prove, and document the alarmists lose interest? Are the dooms-dayers shy when it comes to things they cannot deceive us about, blame someone for, levy monetary fines and sell conscience credits? Can't they come up with a way to blame George Bush for this?

This is a disappointing catastrophe on many levels. :(

A new study from the National Academy of Sciences outlines grim possibilities on Earth for a worst-case scenario solar storm.

Damage to power grids and other communications systems could be catastrophic, the scientists conclude, with effects leading to a potential loss of governmental control of the situation.

The prediction is based in part on a major solar storm in 1859 that caused telegraph wires to short out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires.

It was perhaps the worst in the past 200 years, according to the new study, and with the advent of modern power grids and satellites, much more is at risk.

"A contemporary repetition of the [1859] event would cause significantly more extensive (and possibly catastrophic) social and economic disruptions," the researchers conclude.

When the sun is in the active phase of its 11-year cycle, it can unleash powerful magnetic storms that disable satellites, threaten astronaut safety, and even disrupt communication systems on Earth.

The worst storms can knock out power grids by inducing currents that melt transformers.

Modern power grids are so interconnected that a big space storm — the type expected to occur about once a century — could cause a cascade of failures that would sweep across the United States, cutting power to 130 million people or more in this country alone, the new report concludes.

Such widespread power outages, though expected to be a rare possibility, would affect other vital systems.

"Impacts would be felt on interdependent infrastructures with, for example, potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply and so on," the report states.

Outages could take months to fix, the researchers say. Banks might close, and trade with other countries might halt.

"Emergency services would be strained, and command and control might be lost," write the researchers, led by Daniel Baker, director of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"Whether it is terrestrial catastrophes or extreme space weather incidents, the results can be devastating to modern societies that depend in a myriad of ways on advanced technological systems," Baker said in a statement released with the report.

Stormy past

Solar storms have had significant effects in modern time:

— In 1989, the sun unleashed a tempest that knocked out power to all of Quebec, Canada.

— A remarkable 2003 rampage included 10 major solar flares over a two-week period, knocking out two Earth-orbiting satellites and crippling an instrument aboard a Mars orbiter.

"Obviously, the sun is Earth's life blood," said Richard Fisher, director of the Heliophysics division at NASA. "To mitigate possible public safety issues, it is vital that we better understand extreme space weather events caused by the sun's activity."

"Space weather can produce solar storm electromagnetic fields that induce extreme currents in wires, disrupting power lines, causing wide-spread blackouts and affecting communication cables that support the Internet," the report states. "Severe space weather also produces solar energetic particles and the dislocation of the Earth's radiation belts, which can damage satellites used for commercial communications, global positioning and weather forecasting."

Rush to prepare

The race is on for better forecasting abilities, as the next peak in solar activity is expected to come around 2012.

While the sun is in a lull now, activity can flare up at any moment, and severe space weather — how severe, nobody knows — will ramp up a year or two before the peak.

Some scientists expect the next peak to bring more severe events than other recent peaks.

"A catastrophic failure of commercial and government infrastructure in space and on the ground can be mitigated through raising public awareness, improving vulnerable infrastructure and developing advanced forecasting capabilities," the report states. "Without preventive actions or plans, the trend of increased dependency on modern space-weather sensitive assets could make society more vulnerable in the future."

The report was commissioned and funded by NASA. Experts from around the world in industry, government and academia participated. It was released this week.
 

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For "we who play with radios"....ham radio operators to the rest of the world, are looking forward to a few sunspots...this has been one of the quieter solar minimums. Radio propagation is poor at present, and a few more sunspots would improve propagation for us.

It is interesting the predictions of a "solar maximum" of such intensity. But, the truth be told, each solar maximum we have CME's of great intensity (coronal mass ejections) that affect the earth. As we're so dependent on computers at this point, it could cause some additional problems....but I'm sure that the Sprint will fire up and run (carb'ed Sprint) but not so sure of the FI models. The levels it would take to stop such machines from operating would also have a direct affect on living organisms....so lets hope that such things DON'T occur....I'm looking forward to posting LOTS more miles on the Sprint!! (and maybe lugging a radio to the top of some remote locations so as to enjoy two hobbies)

Derswede
 

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Here's the key: "worst-case scenario solar storm"
The worst case scenarios are almost always the lowest probability.
Very true!

And we need to ask: What is the source of this hyper-alarmist and only half-accurate accountt?

Sounds suspiciously to me like a pop media exaggeration of basic facts, which we see so much of these days. Or maybe it's from some site purporting to provide "supporting evidence" for the Mayan calendar mystics/2012 doomsayers? :p Can't really tell from the OP's quotation.

This new imminent catastrophe :rolleyes: that we should apparently suddenly all get hot and bothered about is not at all well quantified or documented. We don't understand the sun's inner workings to nearly the extent we do our own atmosphere, so that means: (a) there isn't any way to plan for a totally bulletproof solution; although (b) such a solution is not needed anyway, as I'll explain below; and (c) if someone doesn't choose to believe in global warming, they really ought to be skeptical about this missive with its many uncited quotes.

As Derswede said in connection with amateur radio, this is NOT some new thing popping up out of left field. Those of us who've worked professionally in communications and/or power distribution are well aware of what solar activity can do. Yes, the sun HAS done all the things mentioned in the article, but this is not 1859. We coped with later incidents through what are now well established procedures: breaking the grid apart as needed to isolate damaged areas without taking the whole thing down (not a perfect solution, of course, as millions can still be in the dark for a day or two); using terrestrial backup communications (VHF, UHF and microwave radio links, or fiber optic networks, all of which are unaffected by solar activity) until spare satellites are moved into the right orbital slots and dishes can be re-aimed; etc.

Interestingly, though, the two biggest power grid failures of the last 30 years had nothing to do with the sun. In this country, we're at the whim of a nearly third-world power grid that was never planned at all. Like Topsy, it just grew. This is the real vulnerability.

But that's also the very thing now being discussed at the highest levels--how do we plan and actually build a NEW power grid that has the capacity we'll need well into the future, and which can accomodate diverse energy sources that may be available in areas remote from where the biggest users are, and which is also inherently more robust and less susceptible to natural or human-caused disruptions. It IS being discussed and engineered by the very people who can do something about the situation, in other words. This highly incomplete article conveniently omits that crucial bit of information!

Also, as I mentioned briefly before, this is not 1859. The telegraph lines of those early days had no over-voltage protection and virtually no over-current protection. Modern telephone and power lines do already have quite a bit. Transformers in electric substations can be disconnected within milliseconds from dangerous solar-induced currents. The smaller transformers on the poles in your neighborhood have transient protectors and fuses that can do the same thing. In an unprecedentedly massive event, it's almost certain not all of those safety features will work as intended, but it's not like every power substation in the country is suddenly going to be reduced to a pile of molten copper and iron, either, contrary to what some of the more feverish prophets are preaching. Repairs might be expensive if something like this happens before we build a better power grid, but if civilization comes to an end, the sun is the least likely of the possible culprits!

You probably don't know that the biggest solar flare ever observed occured on the downside of this past, relatively mild solar cycle. Proton detecting satellites were blinded for a while. So much X-radiation was released that the space weather scientists didn't even have a category to put it in. It was greater than the hypothetical maximum that had already been postulated. Thankfully, the worst wasn't aimed at the earth, but quite a lot of energy did hit us. And the reason you weren't aware of it is that everything worked as it was supposed to! There was some damage to a couple of research satellites, but there wasn't so much as a blip in power systems here on earth.

There's already been a lot of needless media hysteria over the next solar cycle. There is no scientific basis for thinking sunspots will be any more numerous or any stronger in 2012 or 2013 than the last cycle--probably a bit weaker, by most models. But someday, when something big and probably unpredictable does hit, what should ordinary people do to be ready for it?

Almost nothing, provided you've already done what you should to be prepared for any other natural (or manmade) disaster! Have a disaster preparedness kit ready, plus a three-day supply of non-perishable food and drinking water for your whole family. That's pretty much it.

Oh...and don't leave your bike or car hooked up to any long high voltage power lines or undersea cables. That's about the only way the sun is going to knock them out! It's not like a solar storm is going to send supersized lightning bolts punching through the atmosphere to wreak havoc, like the Martians arriving in Tom Cruise's version of War of the Worlds! Neither does solar activity cause damage by electromagnetic pulses (EMP) like nuclear detonations do.

In orbit, raw radiation and the pressure of the solar wind are what causes damage, but not at the surface of the earth.

Instead, geomagnetic storms entail fluctuations in the earth's magnetic field as it bends and rebounds under the influence of solar activity. Down here at ground level, it's those changing lines of magnetic force, slowly sweeping over many miles of power lines, that induce the currents which cause damage. The wiring in our vehicles simply doesn't intercept enough of those lines of force to sustain damage.

Bottom line:
* this is nothing new and it's not been hidden from anyone
* it's not likely to reach the magnitude the doomsayers say
* there ARE people already planning for the possibility of worse than what we've had, just in case
* if you're prepared for other disasters, you're prepared for the worst the sun can do, too
* our bikes are probably the least likely thing to be damaged by a solar storm :)
 

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...........
Bottom line:
* this is nothing new and it's not been hidden from anyone
* it's not likely to reach the magnitude the doomsayers say
* there ARE people planning for the possibility of worse than what we've already had, though
* it's not something anybody needs to get in a dither over
* if you're prepared for other disasters, you're prepared for the worst the sun can do, too
* our bikes are probably the least likely thing to be damaged by a solar storm :)

...but didn't the meltdown already happen last month ? caused by those Wall Street suns of the beaches ?


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Ride on ! :confused:
 

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No Need to Change your Undies Quite Yet.

Solar Storm Events are common as chook eggs.

On earth we are protected from them by the Earth's magnetic fields. Sometimes a very strong event can cause limited damage to very sensitive electronic equipment on earth, but for panic purposes you can file this one under the Y2K alarms.

I once read that there was a lethal solar exposure dose immediately between Apollo moon landings sometime about 1970. That is, if there had of been men on the moon, or traveling to/from, at the time of the actual solar event they would have be microwaved to a crisp. Unlike the earth, the moon has no real protection.

This problem is something that has to be sorted out if space travel is ever going to be a reality, lead shielding is a biatch to carry around in your pocket.

PS: By the way, George Bush is still a wanker...!

:p
 

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Discussion Starter #10
For those who may not get it, this was meant as a tongue-in-cheek jab at the global warming alarmists, not as an actual call that the sky is falling. :) Sorry, I guess I should have quoted Sean Penn for a greater measure of credibility.
 

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Very true!

And we need to ask: What is the source of this hyper-alarmist and only half-accurate accountt?

Sounds suspiciously to me like a pop media exaggeration of basic facts, which we see so much of these days. Or maybe it's from some site purporting to provide "supporting evidence" for the Mayan calendar mystics/2012 doomsayers? :p Can't really tell from the OP's quotation.(...)
You and your facts.
Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!

I don't care what you unbelievers preach. I'm stacking coca-cola and twinkies. No way Armageddon is gonna find *this* survivor unprepared!
 

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For those who may not get it, this was meant as a tongue-in-cheek jab at the global warming alarmists, not as an actual call that the sky is falling. :) Sorry, I guess I should have quoted Sean Penn for a greater measure of credibility.

Uh uh ! now you tell us !

OK guys, free coke at Drainbamage's residence, all you can drink !
(bring your own bourbon).

....you can keep your twinkies DB !

...Oh ! watch out for the tidal wave due to the full moon on your way there !


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Ride on ! ;)
 

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Well, as even Exxon-Mobil have now accepted the science of global warming it looks like their handful of paid flat-earthers masquerading as scientists (tho' most not in climatology anyway) are about to be left dangling. But thanks to them & their brainless supporters, dumb media included, we'll be too late to stop some significant effects within 20yrs or so, possibly major species extinctions this century. Recent data on all fronts shows the climatologists were being conservative not alarmist.

Let's come back to this in 20yrs - want to bet your house & bikes against mine?
 

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........... Recent data on all fronts shows the climatologists were being conservative not alarmist.

Let's come back to this in 20yrs - want to bet your house & bikes against mine?

I think we all can see climate change happening, the dispute is what is causing it, natural or man made !


I bet my Dodo against your Tyrannosauras rex it's natural !


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Ride on ! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I see the climate changing and I don't like it. I'm gonna have to go spread salt on the driveway and the sidewalk.

No sir, I don't like it at all. :mad:
 

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“Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address


Seems appropriate to me
 

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Where is Al Gore when you really need him:confused: It is 8:45 PM EST and it is 17 degrees and a 20 MPH wind here in the so called Sunny South:eek: Oh I forgot, all of the hot air is still up in DC. It must have been a heat wave:laughhard:
 

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Well, as even Exxon-Mobil have now accepted the science of global warming it looks like their handful of paid flat-earthers masquerading as scientists (tho' most not in climatology anyway) are about to be left dangling.
Sorry. Still not buying it. We don't have anything like the necessary data to feed into the models, and they still can't even predict a bad hurricane season from a mild one three months out. We don't even know if global warming is real, much less what might be causing it.
 
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