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Solar Storm Anxiety

Holly Brown

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The more news-ish websites can push the issue a bit for people that don't know much about CMEs. We probably won't know the severity of an geomagnetic event until the CME arrives. There is the very rare chance of a sub-24 hour CME travel time, but even if 2 CME travel times are similar they may have 2 very different outcomes.

Edited by Jesterface23
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1 hour ago, RichG said:

Sigh - I’m not sure why this has turned into an argument – the issue is not opinions, just the facts.  I was merely suggesting that all the realities of a CME be discussed.  Its also become a little condescending – “… strongly suggest that you try to look deeper into the latter rather than list more popsci article …”


There is a lot of current data out there discussing current technologies and vulnerabilities.  All you have to do is look.


IEEE Spectrum (April 24, 2020) - Here Are the U.S. Regions Most Vulnerable to Solar Storms




A new study about solar-induced power outages in the U.S. electric grid finds that a few key regions—a portion of the Midwest and Eastern Seaboard—appear to be more vulnerable than others.”


Wired (Aug 26, 2021) - A Bad Solar Storm Could Cause an 'Internet Apocalypse'




New research shows that the failures could be catastrophic, particularly for the undersea cables that underpin the global internet.”


Signal (Jul 1, 2021) - Guarding the Power Grid Against a Natural Enemy




Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exploring how to protect the grid against a coronal mass ejection from the sun that could physically damage the nation’s electrical infrastructure and knock out power for several weeks with resultant societal chaos and massive economic losses.


Steve Morley, a scientist with ISR-1 at LANL, notes that the NERC and FERC standards do not extend to a CME of the scope of the Carrington Event. “There is no requirement for the utilities to be robust to something that’s Carrington scale,” he says.


The Conversation (Mar 18, 2022) - A large solar storm could knock out the power grid and the internet – an electrical engineer explains how (Author - David Wallace, Assistant Clinical Professor of Electrical Engineering, Mississippi State University)




“I believe it is critical to continue researching ways to protect electrical systems against the effects of geomagnetic storms, for example by installing devices that can shield vulnerable equipment like transformers and by developing strategies for adjusting grid loads when solar storms are about to hit. In short, it’s important to work now to minimize the disruptions from the next Carrington Event.”


So, can we stop with the silliness now and move on?


Personally I don’t consider it silly to discuss this subject. It’s just an interesting discussion and debate. And personally, I find you’re getting a little too defensive when you’re challenged in your views.

I for instance said from the start that there are differing viewpoints on the subject. But that it’s something that’s not worth worrying about. The first study you posted I am well aware of and states what I have said would be the result of an event at worst case scenario, voltage instability that causes some bad disruptions but not end of the world.

For the second one, I would note that the claims of NERC not having standards up to a Carrington Event, that raises an eyebrow for me because if you were to look into the standards of NERV, they explicitly set them to withstand a 100 year event and have directly addressed the Carrington Event.

Now whether they’re calculations are correct is a matter of debate but to say that they’re not required to take the Carrington Event into account is patently false.

And finally, the claims that it will end the Internet. That study was not conducted by an expert in the field. It was by a graduate assistant in a non peer reviewed study and has been discredited by individuals who are experts.

In particular a heliophysicist from the UK who has worked for years on the Sun’s effects on the power grid, airlines and oil pipelines who regularly submits reports to the government dismissed the study as ill informed and explained in detail why. But you don’t hear about that because the story of it being debunked doesn’t get as much clicks.

And your last article from that electrical engineer restates the ones about the Internet that an expert in the field has shot down already.

So my point is that, once again, you’re cherry picking data, grabbing sources that agree with your premise without grabbing others that say different. You are not providing any data that most here haven’t seen already.

And frankly to continue to act like everyone is being silly and not looking into the data is disingenuous. Most of us have researched this information very thoroughly. I for instance once suffered from severe solar anxiety and started doing research that helped me overcome that fear.

My point is that most individuals here have been viewing the Sun for some time and regularly speak to experts on it on social media whenever we have questions. So, to get all defensive when we simply point out that you’re cherry picking and come off like you don’t fully understand the subject is somewhat obnoxious. 

1 hour ago, RichG said:




1 hour ago, RichG said:




*Sorry about extra links, made an error before posting.

Edited by Tormentius
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2 hours ago, RichG said:

Sigh - I’m not sure why this has turned into an argument – the issue is not opinions, just the facts.

There's no argument as far as I can see, just you restating what everyone knows about CMEs and geomagnetic activity (namely that they can affect satellites and certain components of the electric grid) without considering any specifics. If you want replies to come off as less condescending I would urge you to inform yourself better before continuing to willfully attempt misinterpreting various statements to make it out as if there's something you should actively be worrying about. I already addressed all of that in the post about decision-making above.

This thread isn't about what the potential effects of extraordinary CMEs can be under the worst circumstances, there are plenty of other threads for that. This thread is about whether or not it's something one should be worried or anxious about, and the answer to that is emphatically: no. You should not be more worried about that than you should be worried about your neighborhood being flattened by a large meteorite; in fact, considering just how few long-lasting consequences we saw in 2003, you should perhaps worry more about the meteorite. In fact, you should probably be far more worried about getting into severe traffic accidents, or getting heart disease, but somehow people don't seem to be as anxious about that despite how it's orders of magnitude more likely. It is, as Archmonoth pointed out above, neglect of probability:



The neglect of probability, a type of cognitive bias, is the tendency to disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty and is one simple way in which people regularly violate the normative rules for decision making. Small risks are typically either neglected entirely or hugely overrated. The continuum between the extremes is ignored. The term probability neglect was coined by Cass Sunstein.

There are many related ways in which people violate the normative rules of decision making with regard to probability including the hindsight bias, the neglect of prior base rates effect, and the gambler's fallacy. However, this bias is different, in that, rather than incorrectly using probability, the actor disregards it.

"We have no intuitive grasp of risk and thus distinguish poorly among different threats," Dobelli has written. "The more serious the threat and the more emotional the topic (such as radioactivity), the less reassuring a reduction in risk seems to us."


In fact, the current wave of Solar activity fear does actually remind me a lot of most people's typically irrational fear of nuclear power.

Edited by Sam Warfel
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In its most extreme possible form, mega CMEs are similar to other rare natural disasters, and should receive the same response: study and research, and reasonable preparedness. 

(Topic locked due to devolvement of productive discussion.) 

Edited by Sam Warfel
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