Michelle Marchante/Assistant Opinion Director
How long do you think you could survive without technology? A week? A month? How about years? Unfortunately, the sad truth is that almost none of us would be able to survive more than a few days without aid from some type of technological advancement. With our civilization becoming more technologically dependent, even if we think we’re moving into the future, we’re actually moving backwards.
We’re capable of doing far more than our ancestors were ever able to thanks to these advancements but if we were to be entirely stripped of them, we would be far worse off.
Being stripped away of every possible tech-equipment in the world may seem impossible but it’s actually a reality that is quickly approaching; all that is required is contact from an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) to Earth from space, and unfortunately, it’s coming.
Experts have estimated that there is a significant chance of the Earth sustaining a direct hit by a massive geomagnetic solar storm, consisting of solar flares, which are sudden bursts of solar radiation that occur when the Sun suddenly releases a buildup of magnetic energy and coronal mass ejections- massive bursts of magnetic field and plasma that arise from the solar corona- by 2022.
Although these types of space weather events are rare, scientists have recognized for decades that they’re potential threats to our modern-day, technology-driven society and economy.
If the Earth were to be hit by a storm such as this, the EMP would be so strong that it’ll easily be able to wipe out every piece of technology found across the world. Electric grid lines, telephone poles and satellites, would be shut down, leaving us powerless and sending civilization as we know it to a complete stop.
This may sound far-fetched, almost to the point of coming across as an apocalyptic science fiction, but we have reason to worry, as the Earth already went through an event like this in 1859.
The Carrington event caused telegraph equipment everywhere to spark, shut down and in some cases even catch fire, with widespread power failure occurring all over North America and Europe. The results of that space storm in 1859 were devastating.
We can infer that the results of this upcoming storm will be worse especially since our global economy is even more dependent on power grids, communications and navigation systems than ever before.
“Frankly, this could be one of the most severe natural disasters that the country, and major portions of the world, could face,” John Kappenman, a space weather consultant, told Gizmodo.
“Imagine large cities without power for a week, a month or a year,” Daniel Baker, a geophysicist of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said in an interview with National Geographic. “The losses could be $1 to $2 trillion, and the effects could be felt for years.” He said.
This space storm threat has become so critical that the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy has had to create their National Space Weather Action Plan and the National Space Weather Strategy to be implemented in tandem with other government agencies in preparation for a solar storm worse case scenario.
This six-step plan proposes studying the effects a solar storm would have towards vital national infrastructures and upgrading current space storm forecasters to detect potential storms earlier than the current time frame of about 15-60 minutes.
The plan also involves implementing measures to protect electric grid lines and ways to quickly replace Extra High Voltage transformers that would break during the storm. The action portion of the plan is meant to involve schools, government agencies, the media, non-profit organizations, the private sector and the insurance industry. It also suggests that the U.S. government should coordinate its preparations and responses with those of other countries.
In terms of individual safety, the plan advises that everyone should have an emergency kit with fresh water, food and medication to last at least 72 hours. So Panthers, start stocking up and get yourself a couple of How-To survival guides while you’re at it, you might find yourself having to go all Rambo in the near future.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of FIU Student Media Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
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