Thursday, March 26, 2009

One Solar Storm could wreak havoc on modern life


That headline seems a bit melodramatic to some, but according to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, a solar storm could send electrical charges that would wreak havoc on the modern way of life.

Such storms have happened before, as a recent at 1859. In such storms electrical charges are sent out upon the solar winds and hit the Earth. In 1859, it was not a big deal. Today, it would be devastating because of society’s reliance upon electricity and electronics for even the most basic of human needs.

Think about it for a moment. If the electric grid was fried somehow, things would grind to a halt. Fuel and water could not be pumped. Supply shipments would be halted, with lack of fuel and the lack of the use of the computer programs that run the shipping and delivery industry. Communication systems would be disrupted. Health care for so many would be halted. There would be chaos and civil unrest. People would die prematurely.

While there are some who will dismiss the report by the National Academy of Sciences as just some document to scare people into giving science more money or inspire some SciFi Channel movie, the report should be taken seriously. It is a reminder that human beings ought to remain humble. It is ironic that science would offer such. Call it an act of God, as I do, or an act of nature, as others do, but one simple act by that uncontrollable force could make all of modern humanity’s advancements and gizmos irrelevant.

So, if you are one of those who go around emailing from your blackberry or your laptop while you are driving your car with the electronic fuel injection, know that one day, the Sun, of all things, could spew out a little charged plasma towards the Earth and leave you stranded on the road and incommunicado. VUI does not remind of you such to make you fearful or paranoid, but just to remind you to be a bit more humble and thankful for the ease of modern life. For even the poorest among us live better than kings of the past in many ways. (Remember greats like Caesar had no flush toilet, and Churchill and Roosevelt ran a war without the internet or even a fax machine.) The report from the National Academy of Sciences reminds us how fragile the modern life so many of us live, in comparison to history, really is. Despite advancements and our vanity, the truth remains we human beings do not really run this place.

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