The Sun – Our Friend And Foe
Energy from the Sun gives us everything that we need in order to survive on this planet. Warmth, weather, moving air, plant growth and a host of other benefits are tied in to the consistent energy that the Sun provides. However, the Sun is also a powerful tool of destruction that could just as easily scorch the planet and destroy life in the blink of an eye as well. From time to time, the Sun spews hot gases, intense energy waves and powerful solar winds out in to the solar system, and some of these bursts can be devastating. Fortunately it is unlikely that the Sun will disperse enough energy to fry the planet until it is about to extinguish itself in a few billion years, but smaller outbursts can make for huge problems here at home at any time.
One of the biggest threats that the Sun poses to us is a coronal mass ejection or CME, which is a high energy burst that slams in to our protective magnetic field and atmosphere. The particles that are within this burst of energy are capable of frying every piece of electronic equipment in its path, from satellites to cell phones and pocket calculators. Anything that is turned on at the time of a CME is surely going to become zapped and rendered useless. This is not new or sensational news. In fact, scientists have been warning of such an event for a very long time, and unfortunately we are more at risk than ever before.
As our dependence on technology is greater than ever, and almost every aspect of our lives is governed by computers, from the car we drive to the ATM we use, we can be in serious trouble the next time a CME heads our way. The best response to such an event is to shut everything down, and it has happened before. Power companies turned off distribution and transmission points. Corporations have shut down networks and cable and satellite providers discontinued service in order to protect their equipment from being fried. There are CME events every couple of years, and we have been fortunate that by the time the reach the earth, they are either weaker than anticipated or the magnetic field has been able to protect us.
However, there will be a time when this energy burst will be strong, focused and targeted on this planet and many of us will not be ready. Some events can last for days, and can you imagine not being able to do anything at all until the energy storm passes lest you risk destroying anything that you own which is electronic? Consider how communication, power, transportation, medical services, food distribution and even your ability to cook or use refrigeration will be severely impacted. This is one natural event that should be on the front of everyone’s mind, and somehow we are more focused on preventing another terrorist attack instead of an energy wave from space that can do much more damage.
There are ways to shield equipment from these high energy bursts, but every day goods are not usually protected. This is one survival scenario that all of us should prepare for and consider, but it is not easy simply because we will not be able to smell, taste or really see it when it happens. There may be stronger northern lights in the sky, but that’s about it. However, this event, if and when it happens will paralyze modern life for days if not weeks. Fortunately, these events can be predicted, tracked and measured. There is ample time to receive warnings, prepare and endure the event, but as with other disasters, waiting until the last minute to grab supplies is not really the smartest thing to do.
Panic, fear and a lack of understanding will drive people to stores and banks. Shelves will be empty, fuel will be gone and banks will close because they will run out of money. If you want to avoid the chaos, danger and simple inconvenience of enduring the crazy mad-dash to get supplies, be prepared now, at all times. The good news it that a CME is not poisonous, violent or contagious, and the only thing that will be impacted is anything electric.
However, this means you will be living in the dark ages for a prolonged period of time, and your survival kit and gear needs to include tools that will be useful in these circumstances. Crime, violence, civil unrest and a lack of resources will all contribute to the danger that we all will face during a severe solar storm. You may need to flee your area until order is restored, and you may need to leave well before the storm arrives in order to have the ability to be mobile. Be prepared.