Updated: Apr 24
This is just a taste of what we might get if the Sun goes all megastormy on us this year. By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center — Flickr: Magnificent CME Erupts on the Sun — CC BY 2.0
Look, I don’t mean to panic you, I know you’ve got the coronavirus to worry about and stuff, but there’s a 12% chance a Sun megastorm could erupt this year, and it could be very, very bad for whatever part of the Earth is facing it.
So said a Wired Magazine article from 2012 that didn’t seem to have appeared anywhere else except in one esteemed periodical like National Geographic, and somewhat a less esteemed source like UK’s Express, a nutty site that broke the major news story of a potential fairy space alien corpse in Mexico City. That’s according to Media Bias Fact Checker, which dings the site for being right-wing and factually mixed.
If this goes down, you’re going to wish your biggest problem was a spiky little bastard that looks like a microscopic World War I landmine.
It could be even more catastrophic than the last time, which was the 1859 Carrington Event, named after a guy named Carrington (duh) who happened to witness a mega-speedy solar flare that sparked beautiful auroras when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere, and set not-so-beautiful fire to telegraph stations. It also booted magnetic observatory recordings sky-high and made the scientists working there go all WTF???
Hawaiians and Chileans were all like, Ooooohhh, look at the pretty auroras! and New Yorkers were all like, Hello! I can read the New York Times by the light of the auroras alone! which is what Americans exclaimed until the far more modern Gadzooks! was invented in 1945.
So, like, back in 1859 there wasn’t nearly as much of an electronic infrastructure as there is today.
If the Solar Apocalypse hits us this year (Wired pointed out eight years ago it might happen ‘in the next decade’ so it might not be until next year, or the year after, or quite possibly at all), it will trash electrical power grids in a way that’ll make the Great Blackout of 2003 look like your drunk neighbor hitting the telephone pole outside your house. It’ll also hose up oil and gas pipelines, mess up GPS satellites and potentially destroy all radio communication on earth.
But don’t worry, it won’t hurt actual people, animals or plants. I mean, we won’t get fried to a crisp like in a nuclear war.
No, it’ll just be chaos and panic and doom and really annoying Jesus freaks on the street. Don’t think it’ll be all kum-ba-ya like it was during the Great Blackout because that only lasted a few days; The Great Blackout Of Like 202X will cost us trillions of dollars and last for an entire decade!
Look, I’ll leave you and your overactive imagination currently on overdrive paying scalper prices for Purell and toilet paper, to speculate on just how bad the world’s going to get with no refrigeration, no functioning hospitals, spoiled food, and Gen Z going all Lord of the Flies on everyone without access to Instagram or TikTok.
Greta Thunberg got downright stern and pissy in her media release about the potential impending doomsday.
With brows knit together so tightly some reporters mistook them for two caterpillars fighting over the bridge of her nose, the teenage activist blamed everyone older than her, the oil companies and Donald Trump’s gross incompetence in failing to prevent this toasty nightmare, thundering, “How dare you! You have stolen my obsession with global warming and my heavily-exploited childhood with an even worse thing to think about than dead polar bears and banana crops in Canada! Entire social media ecosystems are collapsing! I can’t make a damn phone call! I’ll be nearly thirty before my ATM card will work again and I’ll have to run faster than the massive sewage blob chasing me!”
Then she sent all world leaders to their rooms to think about what they’d done. Or not, as the case may be.
So look, I’m just saying, you’re worrying about dying from something that most people recover from, and that can be washed away with old-fashioned soap and water, so you might as well worry about something that would wreak far more havoc than canceling tech conferences and the Summer Olympics.
And which will probably never happen.
And if it does, all the Purell in the world isn’t going to save you from F2F-phobic Gen Zs.
This first appeared on Medium in March 2020.