THE SUN GETTING READY
TO TURN OUT THE LIGHTS?
By: John David Powell
The sun sure
has been heating up things around these and other parts lately. The Lower-48 hasnt
seen this much sun in at least a generation. Here
in Texas, too much sun and too little rain teamed up in 2011 to give us the worst drought
years drought across the nation is withering corn and soybean crops. Some of us already are seeing the effects on
grocery prices. Funny how that happens, how we pay at check-out today for tomorrows
higher cost of goods. Just like the way gas prices always go up when oil prices go up, and
then stay there even after oil prices fall.
Nature uses weather to show us that we are not on the top of her food chain. Oh, sure, we
can split the atom, destroy nations with the push of a button, and sometimes fry a turkey
without burning down the house, but we cannot stop the sun from shining or make rain fall
with the snap of our fingers.
of the sun, radio broadcasts around the world went silent earlier this month when the sun
belched out an X-class solar flare. Thats as big as they come.
The sun is
entering the peak of its 11-year cycle of solar flares, with next year expected to be a
doozie. There is concern among the smart folks who keep an eye on the sun that a tsunami
of solar flares hitting earth could do some severe damage to just about anything and
everything that runs on electricity. And that includes our bodies and anything we might
have implanted in them.
Solar Dynamics Observatory (http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov) who watch these
things figure a flurry of solar storms the first week of March hit the earth with enough
energy to power every home in New York City for two years.
1859, a solar flare hit us with enough force to make telegraphs give off sparks. Some of
them shorted out. A few fires started. All this was quite disturbing to the telegraph
operators, as you can imagine, so they did what we usually do when appliances go haywire:
they unplugged them. But that did not help, because those suckers kept on running from the
electricity in the air.
Keep in mind
that the telegraph of 1859 was the Internet of today, providing nearly instant
communication from town to town and between the United States and Europe. Also, the
telegraph was just about the height of mans electronic technology. Yes, my darlings,
that was long before smart phones and The Cloud. No microwaves, no electric cars, and no
power grids to keep a gazillion gizmos humming throughout the day.
were not the first signs something was up. Folks looking up in the real clouds in the
hours just before dawn saw the skies light up in red, green, and purple auroras, Northern
Lights as we call them around here. And those lights lit up the night enough so that
people in Cuba could read their papers as easily as if it were daylight.
incident is known as the Carrington Effect , named for
English solar astronomer Richard Carrington who was the first to see a magnetic explosion
on the sun. What Carrington saw was a
white-light solar flare that released a coronal mass ejection, a CME, and fired it toward
the earth, hitting the planet 17 hours later. Scientists say if it happened today, it
would be devastating for everything that runs on electricity: cell phones, satellites, GPS
systems, computers, and medical equipment. Even planes, trains, and automobiles. They say
it could knock out most, if not all, our power grids by taking out transformers. It could
mean lights-out for the worlds largest cities, the financial and communication
capitals of the planet.
March 1989, a single solar flare knocked out the
Hydro-Quebec power grid in Canada for more than nine hours, leaving six million Canadians
without power, and causing hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Another solar storm
in 1994 damaged two communication satellites, disrupting newspaper, television, and radio
service throughout Canada. Both of these occurred before we walked around with the world
literally at our fingertips. Well, not literally, but pretty darn close to it.
And if you
think groceries and gas prices are high now, think about what they will be when you cannot
buy them because the cash registers and gas pumps will not work. And whatever money you
have in the bank will stay there because ATMs and human tellers will not be able to access
possible the Mayans did not predict an end to the physical world when Dec. 21 rolls
around, but an end to our hi-tech way of life.
But look at
this way, if the lights go out, we can see the Northern Lights a whole lot better.
"Published originally at EtherZone.com :
republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."
John David Powell writes his Lone Star Award-winning columns
from ShadeyHill Ranch in Texas. He also hosts Gone to Texas on Blog Talk Radio. He is a
regular columnist for Ether Zone.
John David Powell can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
the July 24, 2012 issue of
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