2012 solar storm nearly changed life on Earth as we know it

Solar storm near miss in 2012 could have devastated the electrical grid and communications on Earth.

@ShaneMcGlaun
Published Fri, Jul 25 2014 8:08 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:15 PM CST

Today just about everything we use relies on electricity to operate from our smartphones and computers to our toilets in some cases. On July 23, 2012, the sun threw two gigantic clouds of plasma into space and they barely missed the Earth. In fact, had the coronal mass ejections happened only a week before, they could have devastated life on Earth according to scientists.

2012 solar storm nearly changed life on Earth as we know it | TweakTown.com

These storms wouldn't have killed people necessarily, but they would have likely damaged satellites and the electrical grid to the point that anything that plugs into the wall wouldn't have worked. Physicist Daniel Baker says that if those solar eruptions had hit the Earth, we would still be picking up the pieces two years later.

NASA said, "Analysts believe that a direct hit ... could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn't even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair."

NEWS SOURCE:washingtonpost.com

Shane is a long time technology writer who has been writing full time for over a decade. Shane will cover all sorts of news for TweakTown including tech and other topics. When not writing about all things geeky, he can be found at the track teaching noobs how to race cars.

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