Good News: Another Potential Disaster We’re Undoubtedly Completely Unprepared To Handle

Despite the fact that the government is slow, stupid, and incompetent, if there’s a terrorist attack, natural disaster, plague or other mini-apocalypse, we just expect it to be ready to handle it. Of course, as we found out during 9/11, the California blackouts, Hurricane Katrina, and the Gulf spill, our government gets caught with its pants down more than Paris Hilton. No matter how obvious the threat happens to be, the one thing you can usually count on is that it’s probably not ready to swing into action and deal with it in a quick and efficient matter.

So, if the government can’t cope with disasters we’re all expecting, how well do you think it would handle this?

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal agency that focuses on the condition of the oceans and atmosphere, said a severe solar storm could cause global disruptions in GPS systems, power grids, satellite communications, and airline communications.

With solar activity expected to peak around 2013, the Sun is entering a particularly active time and big flares like the recent one will likely be common during the next few years.

Most solar flares will only cause minor problems with satellites and power grids, but a major flare in the mid-19th century blocked the nascent telegraph system, and some scientists believe that another such event is now overdue.

In a huge solar storm back in 1859, telegraph offices worldwide were hit, some telegraph operators reported electric shocks, the telegraph systems malfunctioned and even paper caught fire. It is the strongest solar storm on record and is called the “Carrington Event,” which is named after Richard Carrington, who viewed and reported on the solar flare of Sept. 1, 1859. In 1989, six million people in Quebec, Canada were left without power for several hours when a solar storm took down a power grid.

According to a report by the National Research Council in 2008, a solar storm similar to the ones in the past could cause up to $2 trillion dollars in damage across the globe today.

The NOAA predicted four “extreme” solar emissions which could threaten the planet this decade. Similarly, NASA warned that a peak in the sun’s magnetic energy cycle and the number of sun spots or flares around 2013 could enable extremely high radiation levels.

This is a special problem in the United States and especially a severe threat in the eastern United States as Federal Government studies revealed that this extreme solar activity and emissions may result in complete blackouts for years in several areas of the nation. Moreover, there may also be disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers.

…A report by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory said that over the standard 40-year license term of nuclear power plants, solar flare activity enables a 33 percent chance of long-term power loss, a risk that significantly outweighs that of major earthquakes and tsunamis.

“$2 trillion dollars in damage?” “Complete blackouts for years?” “Disruption of power supply for years, or even decades, as geomagnetic currents attracted by the storm could debilitate the transformers?”

Holy crap!

Now, while we should certainly HOPE that this is wildly exaggerated and we don’t have any significant problems with solar storms, hope is not a plan and a nifty speech about “unity” isn’t going to patch everything up if we get hit. Is the government ready to deal with a disaster of this magnitude? Well?

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