The premise is something straight out of a science fiction film. A massive solar storm hurtles toward Earth with only a select few scientists aware that what it holds in store for the world could devastate it. This story is a grim reminder that we must be aware not only of the events on our own planet, but the universe around us as well. And the target of this cosmic conspiracy? The unprotected power grid of Earth. This is an energy crisis we can all agree affects us deeply.
Imagine suddenly as you’re at home the lights flicker and turn off. You wait for a day with no word on what the cause is. As the days turn into weeks you realize it’s not just your area, but the whole world that doesn’t have power. And that isn’t the worst of it. Even as your neighbors hook up a generator and try to turn on their computers they realize the internal circuits have been fried completely. All electronic data is likewise lost. You have only yourself now to navigate through the collapse as civilization as we know it grinds to a halt and a new world emerges. As the tensions build, chaos threatens to erupt.
A recent interview between reporters at the UK based Daily Telegraph and NASA scientist Dr. Richard Fisher discovered that the mysterious forces of the sun were expected to awaken in a way unseen by our technologically dependent world. And history does show some precedent to this disaster. In 1859 an event hit the Earth that disrupted the telegraphy systems and destroyed many peoples’ ability to communicate long distances. Of course the telegraph was one of the few systems actually disrupted by this tide of cosmic energy and there were very few other aspects of life that were truly affected. But if it were to hit today’s world of The Internet, cell phones, cars, planes, and nuclear weapons, the effects could be far more dire. Of course if the event is small, it will not be a major catastrophe and we may not even notice it taking place. But if it is large, the possibilities for disaster are endless.
There are some ways to protect electronic equipment from this magnetic energy, as with faraday cages, which are designed to channel the energy around its contents and protect a small device inside. But without a means of getting power to the system, it’s difficult to determine how effective this would be. There are many possibilities for things to go wrong in the event of this solar storm in 2013, but there are also many possibilities for it to go right as well. Perhaps a civilization that could come out of this disaster would learn to depend less on technology and learn to integrate it into their lives so that they are living with their devices, and not for them. Once a solar storm hits, it is estimated to not come again for some time, but future generations would have to deal with it as well.