CAN A SOLAR STORM CAUSE A BLACKOUT? When it comes to the sun, there are a lot of things we still don’t know. But one thing scientists have been able to agree on is that a strong enough solar storm could disrupt our electrical systems and even cause blackouts. A solar storm is a sudden flare of solar activity, such as a huge explosion of protons or electrons in the solar atmosphere. This explosion is strong enough to reach Earth a few days later and can cause havoc with our technology. It can overload circuits, fry electronics, and shut down communications networks. But could a strong enough solar flare cause a blackout on Earth? The answer is yes. In 1989, the entire Canadian province of Quebec was hit by a blackout caused by a solar storm. The storm created powerful currents in the electrical grid, overloading it and causing it to shut down. It’s not just our electrical grid that’s in danger. Solar storms can also disrupt GPS navigation, radio signals, and even airline travel. There have even been reports of solar storms interfering with the orbits of satellites. Fortunately, scientists have been working on ways to protect our technology and infrastructure from the sun’s rays. Companies such as NASA and the Aerospace corporation have been researching ways to make our power grids more resilient to solar storms. They’ve found ways to insulate transformers and power lines from solar storms, reducing the risk of blackouts. So while a solar storm can cause a blackout, it doesn’t have to. With the right precautions, we can limit the damage done by our nearest star and make sure our digital world is safe. WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF A WORLDWIDE BLACKOUT? In the wake of a world-wide power blackout, the effects of humanity’s utter dependence on technology would be devastating. Without electricity, cell phones, laptops, and home appliances would be rendered inoperable. Businesses, of all kinds, from retail to financial service markets would suffer losses as most of our world runs off of electricity. With no power, lights, ventilation, transportation, food delivery, communication networks, and more, would cease to exist. Within a few months, massive food shortages would begin, leading to a human famine that would last for years. Without access to social security safety nets, food banks, health care services, far too many of the globe’s already hungry and desperate would perish for lack of food and shelter. The extinction of millions of human beings is a very real possibility. In such a post-apocalyptic world, only a select few would survive. Survivors would include those who can thrive off the land, with the necessary food and resources, as well as those who have a means to generate power, such as a large generator or solar power. Survival could depend on the knowledge of hunting, fishing, growing food, and obtaining clean water. Of course, those who have access to well-stocked pantries, presumably those with higher incomes, would also likely last much longer than those who do not. Life-long camping, fishing, and hunting enthusiasts, as well as primitive living and skill enthusiasts, would thrive in such a situation. Once highly sought out skills, such as carpentry, sewing, and cooking, could become essential to survival. In a blackout world, these could indeed be the difference between life and death. To be sure, the possibility of a world-wide power blackout has dire consequences. We can only hope that the sun will never dim and that life as we know will always remain technology dependent.