NASA Says We Barely Avoided a Disaster That Would Have Knocked Us Into the 18th Century, And It Might Still Happen
Science-people at NASA have reported that the Earth narrowly escaped a solar storm that would have, in their words, knocked “modern civilization back to the 18th century.” And there’s a pretty sizable chance it will repeat and hit us in the next decade.
From the Raw Story:
The extreme space weather that tore through Earth’s orbit on July 23, 2012, was the most powerful in 150 years, according to a statement posted on the US space agency website Wednesday.
However, few Earthlings had any idea what was going on.
“If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire,” said Daniel Baker, professor of atmospheric and space physics at the University of Colorado.
Instead the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft, a solar observatory that is “almost ideally equipped to measure the parameters of such an event,” NASA said.
Scientists have analyzed the treasure trove of data it collected and concluded that it would have been comparable to the largest known space storm in 1859, known as the Carrington event.
…The National Academy of Sciences has said the economic impact of a storm like the one in 1859 could cost the modern economy more than two trillion dollars and cause damage that might take years to repair.Experts say solar storms can cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything from radio to GPS communications to water supplies — most of which rely on electric pumps.
By comparison, the terrible terrorist attack on 9/11 cost $178 billion, according to an estimate of the toll on the economy and direct costs. And they calculated what the chance is that we won’t be as fortunate next time the sun flares up:
There is a 12 percent chance of a super solar storm the size of the Carrington event hitting Earth in the next 10 years, according to physicist Pete Riley, who published a paper in the journal Space Weather earlier this year on the topic.
His research was based on an analysis of solar storm records going back 50 years.
“Initially, I was quite surprised that the odds were so high, but the statistics appear to be correct,” said Riley.
“It is a sobering figure.”
Actually it just makes me want to drink more. Here I thought the sun was our friend, and now science tells me it’s trying to kill me and take away my iPhone. Thanks, science.