The average solar cycle lasts for eleven years. The cycle includes a minimum of solar activity and a maximum. The sun is unusually quiet right now and has been for some time but there should be an increase in solar activity at some point in the near future.
The best current scientific estimate for the next solar maximum is 2012. If this estimate is correct, there is still a few years to try and prevent the potential of a future global disaster. A disaster that would begin on the surface of the sun and could end with tragedy on earth.
The surface of the sun is a mass of plasma that contains highly charged energy particles. Once in a while, some of these particles escape the suns surface and a mass of plasma travels through space on the solar wind. This process is known in scientific terms as a coronal mass ejection but it can also be called a solar storm.
A disaster for the planet would occur if a solar storm reaches and hits the earths magnetic shield in just the right way. If it were to happen, millions of people would lose their lives and the planet would be thrown into chaos as the technology that has become crucial to every day living suddenly gets taken away.
The perfect solar storm will start with skies that will be filled with a bright red aurora. However, soon everything will become dark as every electric bulb becomes devoid of light. The storms damage to the electric grid would be caused through an increased DC current. The runaway current would knock out and melt hundreds of key transformers within minutes, cutting off power for hundreds of millions of people.
Those damaged transformers cannot be repaired only replaced and installing a replacement takes a well-trained crew a week or more. Its incredible to consider that most major electrical utilities have just one or two suitably trained crews available for these type of transformer repairs. In addition, there are only a few spare transformers available and the rest would have to be built to order. Its a process that can take nearly twelve months.
So, the power blackout from the perfect solar storm would last for months but its not just the absence of light that would be the problem. Drinking water would still come through the taps for maybe half a day after the storm. With no electricity to pump water from reservoirs, there would be no more tap water after that.
The electric grid is necessary for almost all natural gas and fuel pipelines to operate. As a result, fuel and natural gas will quickly run out and without food delivery, supermarket shelves would soon become bare. Soon it would become necessary to control public hysteria and the military would have to be called in to restore civil order
There will be no power for heat, cooling or refrigeration until the grid is repaired and after their back up generators run out, hospitals will not be able to provide modern healthcare. A lack of water and food will result in spreading disease but Pharmaceutical companies without electricity will not be able to produce the necessary medicine.
Of course, many will say that this is absurd science fiction and it cannot happen here, but this chilling disaster scenario was outlined in a report released last January (funded by NASA) by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
The fact is that a storm from the sun did hit the earth’s magnetic field in 1859. The effect of this solar storm on earth became known as the Carrington Event. The event was named after the amateur astronomer who observed two patches of intensely bright and white light emanating from a large group of sunspots that may have produced the event.
The solar storm that produced the Carrington Event created a red aurora across the planet from the poles to the tropics. Throughout the world, telegraph systems crashed, machines burst into flames, and electric shocks rendered operators unconscious. Compasses and other sensitive instruments reeled as if struck by a massive magnetic fist. It can happen again and the technology of the planet is now much more advanced and vulnerable.
The next solar maximum is estimated to return in about three years. A global disaster from the perfect solar storm can be prevented with proper contingency planning. There is still time for the government to be proactive and prepare to avoid disaster by creating a potential response to quickly repair the damage to the electric grid from the perfect solar storm.