The danger year of 2011 has arrived and scientists in-the-know are worried sick.
Space experts began worrying about the sun several years ago…and for good reason. They made dire predictions concerning the approaching solar maximum occurring from 2011 to 2013. They believed the sun's unleashed fury could be the worst ever seen.
Now the danger years are here and their voices are rising louder.
The American, European, and Russian space agencies all agree…the world and it's fragile high-tech information systems are at very high risk.
Recently, scientists gathered for a nail-biting meeting addressing the potential horror that a sun gone wild would cause. And what it could cause is near Apocalyptic havoc.
Our technology is vulnerable
“We have to take the issue of space weather seriously,” said Sir John Beddington, the UK's chief scientist at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. “The sun is coming out of a quiet period, and our vulnerability has increased since the last solar maximum.”
The previous solar maximum occurred about a decade ago. What happened then scared scientists as the sun exploded, producing mammoth flares with a far greater intensity than any that had ever been measured.
Earth escaped the sun's wrath back then only by pure, dumb luck.
“Predict and prepare should be the watchwords,” agreed Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “So much more of our technology is vulnerable than it was 10 years ago.”
"Our technology is vulnerable…" is a vast understatement. If the sun's escalating activity catapults a dagger of super-charged particles into the heart of our civilization the USA will be sent tumbling back into the 19th Century in a handful of hours—maybe minutes.
American homes, businesses, institutions, are all supported by an intricate network of highly technological systems. The systems work like an electronic symphony, together creating a masterpiece of commerce and energy.
Lives depend on this symphony, a mosaic of trillions and trillions of bytes of information traveling at the speed of light to facilitate everything at every level that enables Americans' daily lives.
If that electronic symphony were suddenly silenced, the silence would be deafening. The American economy, lifestyle, and very culture would come crashing down leaving bitter ruin in its place.
The cities would become deathtraps. The cities little more than towering monoliths of useless, empty stone and glass. Most automobiles would cease to function—as would many trucks, the transportation backbone of America's goods.
Houses, town homes, condominiums and apartment dwellings will become dark, inhospitable, gloomy tombs bereft of power, water, indeed any kind of utility or service.
America as a national technological graveyard could go on for weeks, even months.
As The Daily Telegraph recently wrote, "National power grids could overheat and air travel severely disrupted while electronic items, navigation devices and major satellites could stop working after the sun reaches its maximum power…" And that's an optimistic scenario.
“We know it is coming but we don’t know how bad it is going to be,” Dr Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics division, said in an interview with The Daily Telegraph. “It will disrupt communication devices such as satellites and car navigation, air travel, the banking system, our computers, everything that is electronic. It will cause major problems for the world."
“Systems will just not work. The flares change the magnetic field on the earth that is rapid and like a lightning bolt. That is the solar affect,” Fisher added.
Since the sun's last upheaval caused worldwide disruption and destruction in 1859, civilization has rapidly advanced a society based on a technological infrastructure that can be whisked away in moments by a severe geomagnetic storm.
After the solar blast most communication will fail; power will fail. Americans will be left without light. Life-sustaining food and water will run out. Uprisings and violence will erupt as society collapses in a matter of days.
The US federal and state governments will be hard-pressed to restore order amongst 300 million people as slow starvation begins and sources of potable water dwindle.
According to some experts, the full restoration of the American infrastructure could take years, even a decade or more. During the interim more than a billion people could die worldwide—more if warfare breaks out between countries with economies that have collapsed.
Meanwhile millions of Americans will be able to do little more than hunker down in their silent, 21st Century high-tech tombs and pray.