They’re having a conference this week in Washington, D. C. to discuss it. This is the fourth year in a row that policymakers, researchers, legislators and reporters are meeting to share ideas about space weather.
The focus is on protecting critical infrastructure. How can the country prepare, mitigate and respond to to space weather events that have the potential to be devastating.
Unusually high solar activity could knock out smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications, to name a few key areas. The impact would be many times worse than Hurricane Katrina.
The big problem is forecasting. Space weather forecasting is still not very reliable yet, in spite of research spacecraft designed to study the sun. That makes it hard to know what measures to take, and when, to prevent the worst case scenarios.
A couple of years ago, the National Academy of Sciences published a report on problems caused by solar storms. If you’re interested, there’s a link on my Links of Interest page in the Survival Reading category.
As with so many potential threats we face today, there are questions about the timing, magnitude and impact. This uncertainty is partly what constitutes the threat. But we should be aware of the threat and be as prepared as we possibly know how to be.
For example, we wear seatbelts in our cars because doing so could save our lives in an accident. What are the chances you or I will be in an accident today? The statistics vary depending on a number of factors, including where you live. But why take unnecessary chances?
The same principle applies to living with the threat of a killer solar storm. How well are you prepared to live without electricity? Click here for thoughts on living without electricity and liking it.