Thoughts on economics and liberty

The greatest peace-time threat to mankind is from the next coronal mass ejection (CME) that hits Earth

This was my initial post. In the meanwhile I started this Facebook page. And I’m now moving my systematic findings here. So after reading this initial material, please switch to this blog post for my ongoing analysis.

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I became aware of this issue only a couple of days ago. The more I’ve looked at it it, the more clear it becomes that this is a REAL and serious threat to mankind, unlike fake threats such as from “global warming” (CO2 is a boon, as I’ve shown).

HISTORY OF HUMAN AWARENESS OF CMEs

NASA’s James Green discovered the 1859 Carrington Event (see the discovery of this event from 6 minutes in this video)

2007-2008: In US National Academy of Science published a report in 2008: Severe Space Weather Events: Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report [Downwload the report here].

2008: Sten Odenwald and James Green published a detailed article in Scientific American about the Carrington Event [Download here – BRACING FOR A SOLAR SUPERSTORM, Sten F. Odenwald, James L. Green, Scientific American, Vol. 299, No. 2 (August 2008), pp. 80-87].

It has taken around ten years since discovery for governments to start getting to grips with this issue.

  • UNITED KINGDOM: The UK Government published this report in July 2015. It estimates the probability of major CMEs at 1 per cent per year.
  • UNITED STATES: The Obama administration took this threat seriously and issued an executive order in October 2016. Thereafter the Trump administration issued a detailed report in June 2017 [Copy on my server in case the report disappears from the internet].

None of these initial actions dampen the threat, merely start the process of considering it more carefully. The costs involved to prepare could be very large but key government services and hospitals need to be kept running.

We need to understand this threat better and devise coping mechanisms.

THE JUNE 2017 REPORT STATES:

“Damage to components of the electric transmission system could delay power restoration efforts and cause longer estimated restoration timelines than a loss of a generation asset, especially if the damaged component is limited in supply or requires time-consuming logistical support and installation.

“The availability or shortage of redundant, accessible, and diverse communications will affect response and recovery operations.

“The Federal Government has a limited organic generator capability.

“Due to the duration of the outage, normal resources and processes for support to impacted populations is not sufficient.

Millions of customers and/or multiple states or FEMA Regions may be impacted.

“Due to the United States’ dependency on cross-border flows of energy resources to meet its total energy requirements and global flows of information, knowledge, and investment capital, a long-term power outage will have international implications.”

=== THE SCIENCE BEHIND THIS ISSUE ===

In this blog post I outline basic issues. In a separate blog post, I will discuss the economic implications.

PLEASE START WITH THIS VIDEO


I’ll post more videos later in this post. The material below is a pure cut and paste from various sources. Each paragraph’s source is indicated. There is inevitably some duplication from this approach, but my purpose is to extract key issues, which is adequately served by this method.

WHAT IS A CORONAL MASS EJECTION (CME)?

During a CME, the fluctuations of the sun’s magnetic fields cause a large portion of the surface of the sun to expand rapidly, ejecting billions of tons of particles out into space. [Source] [Sanjeev: at a speed in excess of a million miles per hour!]

Also, see Wikipedia.

1500 CMEs PER YEAR, BUT ONLY ONE NEEDS TO HIT EARTH

Near solar maxima, the Sun produces about three CMEs every day, whereas near solar minima, there is about one CME every five days. [Source]

Let’s say that comes to 1500 CMEs per year. The Earth is a tiny object and escapes almost all of these CMEs. A few – very few – do hit the earth. Apparently a direct large hit happens only once in five centuries.

CONSEQUENCES WHEN THE NEXT CME HITS EARTH

When the ejection is directed towards Earth and reaches it as an interplanetary CME (ICME), the shock wave of the traveling mass of solar energetic particles causes a geomagnetic storm that may disrupt Earths magnetosphere, compressing it on the day side and extending the night-side magnetic tail. When the magnetosphere reconnects on the nightside, it releases power on the order of terawatt scale, which is directed back toward Earths upper atmosphere. Solar energetic particles can cause particularly strong aurorae in large regions around Earths magnetic poles. These are also known as the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) in the northern hemisphere, and the Southern Lights (aurora australis) in the southern hemisphere. Coronal mass ejections, along with solar flares of other origin, can disrupt radio transmissions and cause damage to satellites and electrical transmission line facilities, resulting in potentially massive and long-lasting power outages. [Source]

Pretty lights aren’t the only consequence from a CME. The magnetic fluctuations can cause compasses to fail. And since magnetic fields can induce electricity, any conductor could become an inductor. A powerful CME could induce electricity in large, powerful conductors. That could overload electrical systems and cause massive damage.[Source]

If Earth happens to be in the path of a CME, the charged particles can slam into our atmosphere, disrupt satellites in orbit and even cause them to fail, and bathe high-flying airplanes with radiation. They can disrupt telecommunications and navigation systems. They have the potential to affect power grids, and have been known to black out entire cities, even entire regions. [Source]

LAST HUGE CME HIT EARTH IN 1859

The largest known solar flare [Sanjeev: This is NOT a solar flare] took place on August 28, 1859. It was observed and recorded by Richard C. Carrington, and so it’s sometimes called the Carrington Event, or sometimes the 1859 Solar Superstorm. The accompanying coronal mass ejection (CME) traveled to Earth in only 17 hours, rather than the usual three or four days. The largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae, or northern lights, were seen in many parts of the world. Telegraph systems throughout Europe and North America failed. [Source]

In 1859, an enormous CME caused massive magnetic fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetosphere — the magnetic field surrounding the planet. People living as far south as Cuba witnessed the northern lights phenomenon. Compasses and telegraph systems failed. Scientists and academics debated the cause of all the commotion. We now know it was due to a CME. [Source]

Today, we depend much more heavily upon electronics and electricity than we did in 1859. If a similar solar superstorm were to hit us now, we’d be in trouble. The magnetic forces would induce electricity in any large conductor. That includes power transformers and the power grid itself. [Source]

Worldwide reports on the effects of the geomagnetic storm of 1859 were compiled and published by American mathematician Elias Loomis, which support the observations of Carrington and Stewart. Studies have shown that a solar storm of this magnitude occurring today would likely cause more widespread problems. The magnetic fluctuations can cause compasses to fail. And since magnetic fields can induce electricity, any conductor could become an inductor. A powerful CME could induce electricity in large, powerful conductors. That could overload electrical systems and cause massive damage. [Source]

That’s not the end of the bad news. The power grid in North America operates at near capacity. It wouldn’t be able to handle the increased electrical load from a solar superstorm. Power lines could sag and even snap as a result. Massive power outages could affect much of the continent. The magnetic fluctuations would interfere with radio signals, and communication and satellite systems would collapse as well. [Source]

It could take weeks or months to repair the damage. During that time, people would have  no way to find out what was going on. Emergency services would face serious challenges. While the magnetic fields would probably not short out individual electronics devices like cell phones or computers, communications systems could fail regionally. In other words, small devices would still work but would lack the services they require to be useful. [Source]

It’s possible that a CME could even affect your computer and cause glitches. In most cases, a simple reboot would solve the problem. But with the loss of the power grid, you’d be limited by your battery’s charge. Once that ran out, you’d be stuck. [Source]

LOTS OF SMALL CMEs KEEP HITTING US

People talking about power failures from solar storms always point back to March 13, 1989 – 23 years ago. A CME caused a power failure in Québec, as well as across parts of the northeastern U.S. In this event, the electrical supply was cut off to over 6 million people for 9 hours. [Source]

But it’s possible for solar storms to be even more powerful than the one that caused the 1989 Québec and U.S. northeast blackout. What would happen if such a powerful solar storm occurred today? And is such a powerful solar storm likely to occur again in our lifetimes? No one knows the answers to these questions with certainty. [Source]

But scientists have become increasingly aware of the possibility, especially since 2008, when Sten Odenwald and James Green published an article in the magazine Scientific American about the Carrington Event and possible consequences if such a powerful storm on the sun occurred today. [Source]

Are we in danger from a particularly huge solar power, perhaps on a scale of the Carrington Event? Some believe we may be. That is why governments and scientists are beginning to pay more attention to this issue, with an eye to creating systems and procedures to help withstand such powerful effects from the sun. [Source]

MORE VIDEOS

This one from 40 minutes (but if short of time, from 46 minutes)

This one is too long, maybe worth seeing from 1 hour 3 minutes

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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