Could we survive a massive blackout caused by a solar super storm?
The sun, our most important source of natural energy, light, and even nutrition could one day also become our worst enemy if intense solar magnetic ‘super storms’ cause massive power blackouts. Whether these storms, which appear to come in 11-year cycles, could melt down nuclear reactors as might have happened earlier this year, is still a matter of speculation. These intense solar storms have in the past been so severe that they are said to have been responsible for severe damage to power grids and communications networks.
In the end they may be even more damaging than giant, mega hurricanes like the 2005 Hurricane Katrina that devastated much of the US Gulf Coast.NASA photo of solar storm
The recent massive power blackout in India, caused mainly by too much demand on an aging, overloaded power grid network
is only an example of what can happen when a mega power grid blackout occurs in an area where hundreds of millions of people are sweltering in summer temperatures often soaring past 45 degrees Celsius or 133 degrees Fahrenheit.
Although India’s massive power blackout has not been attributed to a solar super storm, it does give a sobering example of what could happen if even a percentage of world power grids would become disabled by an intense solar storm, over which we on earth have virtually little protection from.
Solar flareups and even mega storms, caused by intense nuclear fusions at the sun’s core, often come with little warning. Providing protection of power grids, communications networks and many other networks we humans depend on, has still not been perfected as yet. I
n a report, Solar Storms: Protecting Your Operations Against the Sun’s ‘Dark Side’,prepared by two Swiss risk engineering experts, A.V. Riswadkar and Buddy Dobkins, the conclusion was that a better assessment of the implications of such storms on our entire energy and communications networks:
“Better understanding of the technical aspects of this threat and interconnected vulnerabilities in various industry segments, such as electric utilities, power distribution, oil and gas pipelines in the energy sector and technology exposures should be a top risk management priority. This must be followed by an assessment of their awareness of this threat, readiness, prioritization of their mitigation strategies and action plans.
“This will require opening a high-level dialog with a variety of stakeholders and participation in workshops and other forums,” they advise.
These sun-caused power outages are something to think about when ascending to the 150th floor of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa tower. Scary.
More about solar super storms and their effect on our planet: