Major solar storms will one day inject a massive cloud of electric particles into the earth’s geomagnetic field, producing a major electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that causes catastrophic permanent damage to the electric power grid, unless it is hardened. Our “just-in-time” economy would halt indefinitely, and without necessities dependent on electricity, several hundred million Americans would die within a year. Time to pay attention to such “stormy weather,” don’t you think?
With “stormy weather” over much of the country (and even in the Middle East) in recent days, that seemed like a good title for this week’s message. I tried without success to identify a way to link my thoughts about “space weather” to the World War II era song with that title. But, anyway, you might enjoy recalling Lena Horn’s rendition . . .
Another Black Swan Event!
Last week, I wrote that we are courting an EMP “Black Swan” attack from Iran, or others . . . not unlike the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which surprised us even though we had clear warning beginning at least 15 years in advance. One of our readers informed me that the U.S. Navy actually had included in its Naval War College exercises a preview of that “surprise” attack, and yet we still were unprepared in the real world.
Ignoring the consequences of a High Altitude EMP (HEMP) detonation above the U.S. would be far more disastrous than were the events of World War II following Pearl Harbor. And there is another EMP Black Swan event of concern, after which the relatively few survivors will correctly note how we for years collectively ignored clear warnings.
Recall that a Black Swan event is an unexpected event, after which experts and even laymen usually conclude: “it was bound to happen . . . similar incidences even have happened before.”
Nothing better fits this bill than a solar storm that ejects a massive cloud of electric particles that interact with the earth’s geomagnetic field, creating a natural EMP event. Click here for last December’s discussion about such well-known events, which are certain to occur—the only question is when.
As a humorous coincidence to emphasize that a rare event can still be a certainty, we noted that last December had 5 Saturdays, 5 Sundays and 5 Mondays—a sequence that occurs only once every 824 years. As we enter the Christmas season, it is interesting to note that this has only happened TWICE since Yeshua was born to Mary—even less frequent than is generally considered the frequency of solar storms that could create an existential EMP threat.
A Carrington event is also an infrequent, essentially certain-to-occur, happening—just one not so precisely predictable. And as noted below—it did not occur during a period of maximum solar emissions.
I’ve learned a few things recently, suggesting an update is in order.
Large Solar Emissions Happen All the Time.
Last December, I noted that we are going through a period of maximum solar flares—such maxima occur on an eleven year cycle—and we are in the middle of one.
Those watching such “space weather”—particularly at the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colorado—maintain a watch on these events, and when they detect such events occur provide formal warning to those who might have an interest in the consequences. For example, the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) uses their warning to redirect flights that might be exposed to effects that might create risks to aircraft and passengers.
One of their specialists, Mr. William Murtagh, gave an excellent presentation on these events at the recent DuPont Summit in Washington, DC (cosponsored by the Policy Studies Organization and the InfraGard National EMP Special Interest Group). Mr. Murtagh’s presentation included several important observations (not in the order presented):
- Such events go on all the time—not just during a solar maximum; and very consequential events can occur during the dwell period between solar maxima that occur on an 11-year cycle.
- The 1859 Carrington Event, often taken as a “worst case” event for planning purposes, occurred during such a dwell period—and it actually was not near the magnitude of the largest emissions observed.
- A 1921 solar storm event, among other things, put the entire signal and switching system of the New York Central Railroad below 125th Street out of operation and induced currents caused a fire in a control tower.
- Last year, a much larger event than either of these barely missed enveloping planet earth with a lethal cloud of charges from a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)—different timing and it could have enveloped the earth and shut down the electric power grid in the U.S. as well as throughout the world.
- The “Halloween storms” of October 2003 served as a “wake-up call,” by illustrating the damaging effects of solar storms on the Global Positioning System (GPS) upon which navigation and numerous other applications depend—as well as other applications, such as communications and the electric power grid.
- The FAA pays particular attention to the National Weather Service assessments—and all flights have been diverted from major regions of the globe because of that warning—which normally is a day or so in advance. There was only about 18 hours of warning in last year’s major CME.
While we would have 18 or so hours of warning of the arrival of solar wind particles from the sun’s surface, we would not know the cloud’s composition until it is identified by the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) satellite at the L1 libration point between the earth and the sun. Until that composition is known, the power companies would not take action because of the negative impact of a possible false alarm, depending on the polarization of the particles’ associated magnetic field relative to the Earth’s magnetic field. About 30 minutes after determination of actionable warning those particles will interact with the earth’s geomagnetic field and possibly produce the EMP of concern.
Ironically, this is approximately the same as the time of flight of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from Iran to the U.S. In that case, we have prepared for a rapid response . . . that is why the President always has with him an individual carrying the “football” with the launch codes for our retaliatory response to a nuclear attack. But in the case of the solar induced EMP, there will likely be insufficient time for the power companies to shut down and protect the grid.
So, alternative hardening measures are required—and possible. But the powers that be are not taking needed actions to protect the American people from this existential threat.
This incredibly dangerous condition was recently lamented by Dr. Daniel Baker, a solar scientist and director of the University of Colorado-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, while relating our good fortune in avoiding the above mentioned, largest on record, June 2012 CME. It occurred on the far side of the rotating sun just a week after that source area was pointed directly toward Earth. NASA’s STEREO-A satellite was flying ahead of Earth as the planet orbited the sun and recorded the event, including the intensity of the solar wind, the interplanetary magnetic field and a rain of solar energetic particles into space.
In commenting on lack of attention paid to the near miss, Dr. Baker has in sorrow observed:
“My space weather colleagues believe that until we have an event that slams Earth and causes complete mayhem, policymakers are not going to pay attention . . . The message we are trying to convey is that we made direct measurements of the 2012 event and saw the full consequences without going through a direct hit on our planet.”
Click here for a brief summary of Dr. Baker’s important presentation last week at the 46th Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, including very impressive photography of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) which, if they intersect the earth, would cause major damage to the currently unprotected electric power grid.
I, like many of my colleagues, hope that America wakes up and deals with this problem. But hope is not a strategy!!!
Some Key Bottom Lines:
From our previous email messages, it seems clear that the Washington “powers that be” continue to dither, out of ignorance or incompetence. Members of the Executive and Legislative branches are collectively failing in their sworn duty “to provide for the common defense” or even to provide protection against the above “stormy weather” threat . . .
Such natural EMP events will happen—it is only a question of when the orbital mechanics coincide with one of the intermittent but regular CMEs that generate a lethal flood of electric charges that, if they envelop Earth, will shut down the electric grid, unless effective countermeasures are taken.
The operationally key issues are purely political. The threats are well known—and validated by numerous competent technical reviews. The cost of hardening is minimal by any reasonable measure—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which understands the problem but doesn’t have the authority and resources to rectify the situation, has estimated the annual cost to be less than that of a postage stamp per subscriber.
What is needed is to assign FERC with the equivalent to authorities of the FAA in regulating commercial aviation—essentially what is called for in The Shield Act proposed by the Congressional EMP Caucus, but bottled up in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Still, the clock clicks on—toward another “Black Swan” disaster that will make Pearl Harbor look like a picnic . . . both the HEMP threat and the space “stormy weather” should not continue to be ignored.
What to do?
While Washington continues to dither, more states should follow Maine’s bold lead in actually taking concrete initiatives to protect its portion of the electric power grid, thereby ensuring that at least the people of Maine can survive catastrophic collapse of the national power grid induced by a severe solar storm, manmade EMP event, cyberattack, or other cause. EMP protection will also mitigate all lesser hazards, such as blackouts induced by hurricanes and storms.
We should encourage other state legislators to follow the pattern of Maine State Representative Andrea Boland (D-Sanford), who successfully advocated in only a six month period historically important landmark legislation, LD 131. It passed the Maine House unanimously and with only three dissenting votes in the Senate. And we will try to help her in the continuing battle to get the Maine powers that be to follow through in executing her initiative, in spite of contrary lobbying efforts supported by the electric power industry.
We are doing all we can to encourage the Maine legislators to follow through. In particular, I joined a number of the nation’s leading experts and public policy practitioners concerned about man-caused or naturally occurring existential EMP threats in signing the linked letter to Maine’s Joint Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology. And I also just commented on the Maine Public Utilities Commission’s draft report reviewing Maine LD 131, urging the Maine “powers that be” to act on the LD131 recommendation to deal immediately with this existential threat rather than continuing to study the problem, which apparently is the intention of lobbyists for the electric power industry.
And what can you do?
Pray for our nation, and for a rebirth of the freedom sought, achieved and passed to us by those who came before us.
Join us at High Frontier in seeking to alert the public and our local and state authorities to the existential threats posed by both man-made and natural EMP events—and what can be done about these threats.
Get involved—let you electric power companies know of your concern.
We need your help in spreading this information to the grass roots and to encourage all “powers that be” to provide for the common defense as they are sworn to do. Will you do your part?
Begin by passing this message to your friends and suggest they visit our webpage, www.highfrontier.org for more information. Also, please encourage your sphere of influence to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter!
E-Mail Message 131218
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