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Who Turned Out The Lights?

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Ever since I was a kid I religiously read National Geographic Magazine.  My grandparents kept issues dating back to the mid 30’s, and I looked forward to reading these mini-time capsules.  As I got older I added encyclopedias to my reading list.  Between the two I soaked up enough information to clean up at Trivial Pursuit when it first came out (Name the actors in the 1969 movie- Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice).  Alas, life got in the way and my relevance and effectiveness as a contemporary “gamer” slipped away. (Although, I did have one brief stint as a master of Halo when it first came out, much to the surprise of my son’s friends)

My in-laws learned of my passion for reading during my courtship with their daughter, and for the past 28 years have given us a subscription to NG Magazine.  The intricate quality of the writing, photographs and illustrations weave stories that continue to capture my imagination.  An article in the most recent edition stimulated a blog topic.  What if everything went dark? ….. Everywhere?…..

The article, titled “Sunny, With Chance of Woe”  describes the power and effect of the most powerful solar storm ever recorded – a 1859 solar storm known as the “Carrington Event” named after the amateur astronomer who first noticed the storm as it happened.  The electromagnetic bombardment of earth was so powerful it knocked out telegraph systems around the world.  In fact, telegraph companies were only able to resume operation if they disconnected from their usual power source.  The glowing blanket was strong enough to power the lines naturally, and turned night into day in many parts of the world.

So, where am I going with this?  What would you do if everything went dark?  I mean everything. And I mean dark.  A solar flare on the magnitude of the Carrington Event could KO large swaths of the electrical grid around the world.  Given our ever increasing reliance on electricity-especially for transportation- what would happen?  Collapse of the financial sector?  ?  Anarchy?  Widespread riots?

No, worse than that.  We won’t be able to log in on Facebook, G+, Twitter, Digg, etc….  We will actually have to virtually connect, and I mean VIRTUALLY connect with our neighbors.  Those close by quickly become fellow survivors, galvanized by the realization that if we don’t live together we die apart.

Of course, once the power comes back on we’ll tweet about our experience, with hashtags like; #Iluvmyneighbors, #wedidit, #takenothingforgranted, #canIgetmybbqback?, #myIphoneisbroken, #hotelkeywontwork.

Let’s hope the sun decides to wait another century or two before it belches again.

 

 

Comments - Add Yours

  • http://chiefb2.wordpress.com chiefb2

    PS, the actors in the movie were Robert Culp, Elliot Gould, Diane Cannon and Natalie Wood….juz sayin’.

  • http://twitter.com/patricecloutier Patrice Cloutier (@patricecloutier)

    The scary part is that this sort of event could also be man-made … a nuke det high above North America and we’re back to the 19th century … some more good reading on this would be: One Second After by William Forstchen … scary and the guy is not one of those crackpots …

About chiefb2

Retired fire chief,Type 3 AHIMT IC, PIO. Current industrial services safety professional, social media emergency management disciple (no, I'm not a "guru"). Crisis communications consultant. Dad with an open wallet.