The day that the light fails
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
It is midnight September 22, 2012. Above the Netherlands is a beautiful light show of all colors. The northern lights. The north is even more to see over the Netherlands but this time is different. It is brighter and lighter than ever. And then it happens. All lights go off and within a few seconds not only throughout the Netherlands without power but also the rest of the world.
A doomsday scenario of catastrophic events ? A message in line with the 2012 hype? Was that so. No, it is a scenario from a NASA-funded report that takes into account that this could actually happen.
In recent years, we looked to our own downfall to prepare. We are more and more dependence of all electronic and technical devices. And precisely to this very vulnerable electronics. The sun can ensure that at once all electronics on earth off.
We are the last years to learn about solar flares. A solar flare is an explosion on the surface of the sun, caused by the sudden release of energy that is held in the magnetic fields. As a result of solar flares, a stream of charged particles called solar wind. Sometimes the earth by solar wind hit.
Usually this is no problem but from time to time take such a large solar wind plasma ball with them. During a Coronal mass ejection. And let the net around 2012 that the solar activity is highest and the risk of a Coronal mass ejection
is greatest. Plasma ball If such a magnetic field of the earth becomes a disaster can we face.
A Coronal mass ejection. Although they are very deadly to electronics.
What goes wrong?
A change of the magnetic field can generate a current in the grid. Something where the grid can not. The transformers used to regulate the stress will melt it and severely damaged. The result is that the power failure. Something indeed ever before in this way is done.
Once the transformers have been we have a big problem. Damage that is caused in this way is not to repair. All transformers will be replaced. Unfortunately, we did not find a reserve stock of the things ready. No they will again have to be made. Months over something that will go. For some countries, even many years before they have replaced all the transformers.
It is the time in between where I worry. No more electricity. How will live without electricity? Daily life will be completely disrupted. A first problem, our drinking water facility. Without electricity the water will not do more.
Then we will have to ensure our food supply. Without electricity, there will be major problems with food suppliers. Refrigerators will not do that no more food can be kept. We will complete our daily provisions dependent on emergency aid if there is.
And what about health care. Hospitals have electricity needed to operate. Good hospitals emergency generators will still provide power until the power is, but only until the fuel is exhausted and the supply of fuel is at risk if all electronics failure. Below hospitals can not provide more health care.
I think it not impossible that all problems be able to bring that many deaths will fall. There may be conflict in a global struggle for resources. Diseases will break out. Social unrest will occur.
And even if eventually all the problems are solved and the whole grid is repaired, we will in subsequent years the economic and social damage could feel.
What can we do about it?
A positive side to the story is that we can do something against. Until we know that a Coronal mass ejection arrives, it is possible for power to make and respond to damage. Unfortunately we are still unable, with great accuracy a Coronal mass ejection to predict. At most only 15 minutes in advance. So little time to act.
No the best way to prevent a disaster is to take proper precautions. It is not impossible for the grid to this type eruptions protection. And although the chance that this will actually happen, but very small, it is not zero. The risks are simply too big for us not to protect.
For more information: New Scientist