There are so many things that we humans simply have no control over... This is apparently one of them... May the Lord God / Allah help us all...
Excerpts below... check out the entire article here
IT IS midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.
A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation's infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event - a violent storm, 150 million kilometres away on the surface of the sun.
It sounds ridiculous. Surely the sun couldn't create so profound a disaster on Earth. Yet an extraordinary report funded by NASA and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in January this year claims it could do just that.
Help is not coming any time soon, either. If it is dark from the eastern seaboard to Chicago, some affected areas are hundreds, maybe thousands of miles away from anyone who might help. And those willing to help are likely to be ill-equipped to deal with the sheer scale of the disaster. "If a Carrington event happened now, it would be like a hurricane Katrina, but 10 times worse," says Paul Kintner, a plasma physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In reality, it would be much worse than that. Hurricane Katrina's societal and economic impact has been measured at $81 billion to $125 billion. According to the NAS report, the impact of what it terms a "severe geomagnetic storm scenario" could be as high as $2 trillion. And that's just the first year after the storm. The NAS puts the recovery time at four to 10 years. It is questionable whether the US would ever bounce back.
The report outlines the worst case scenario for the US. The "perfect storm" is most likely on a spring or autumn night in a year of heightened solar activity - something like 2012. Around the equinoxes, the orientation of the Earth's field to the sun makes us particularly vulnerable to a plasma strike.
When hell comes to Earth
Severe space weather events often coincide with the appearance of sunspots, which are indicators of particularly intense magnetic fields at the sun's surface.
The chaotic motion of charged particles in the upper atmosphere of the sun creates magnetic fields that writhe, twist and turn, and occasionally snap and reconfigure themselves in what is known as a "reconnection". These reconnection events are violent, and can fling out billions of tonness of plasma in a "coronal mass ejection" (CME).
If flung towards the Earth, the plasma ball will accelerate as it travels through space and its intense magnetic field will soon interact with the planet's magnetic field, the magnetosphere. Depending on the relative orientation of the two fields, several things can happen. If the fields are oriented in the same direction, they slip round one another. In the worst case scenario, though, when the field of a particularly energetic CME opposes the Earth's field, things get much more dramatic. "The Earth can't cope with the plasma," says James Green, head of NASA's planetary division. "The CME just opens up the magnetosphere like a can-opener, and matter squirts in."
The sun's activity waxes and wanes every 11 years or so, with the appearance of sunspots following the same cycle. This period isn't consistent, however. Sometimes the interval between sunspot maxima is as short as nine years, other times as long as 14 years. At the moment the sun appears calm. "We're in the equivalent of an idyllic summer's day. The sun is quiet and benign, the quietest it has been for 100 years," says Mike Hapgood, who chairs the European Space Agency's space weather team, "but it could turn the other way." The next solar maximum is expected in 2012.
-72 hours of health care remaining
-30 days of coal left
-4-10 years to recover
-15 minutes' warning
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