Over St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness and Jameson did not pose the only threats to our planet. The enemy? The Sun:
A severe solar storm created a stunning display of light in the night sky over parts of the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand early Wednesday morning, spotted by those lucky enough to be awake in the wee hours.
Called aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere and aurora australis in the Southern Hemisphere, the lights were the product of large geomagnetic blasts from the sun that arrived Tuesday about 10 a.m. ET (1 a.m. Wednesday in Sydney).
Scientists knew the storm was coming, but it’s timing and strength was a bit of a surprise:
Forecasters had thought it would come late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning; instead it arrived just before 10am EDT and “it’s significantly stronger than expected,” Berger said.
There are some that warn that North Korea, or one day Iran, will detonate a nuclear bomb over the United States to shut down our electrical system by means of an EMP (ElectroMagnetic Pulse) attack. These individuals and groups, ranging from the formerly esteemed to the crackpot, have forgotten that the U.S. has a LOT of nuclear weapons, many of which are riding around underneath the oceans on submarines. So any nation that attempts this type of attack would almost immediately be the recipient of actual nuclear bombs exploding on their soil. Despite claims to the contrary, there does not yet exist a regime in our time that would willingly commit national suicide.
However, the risk from solar storms such as the one that struck the Earth this week is real. Hopefully, eventually, (maybe even fancifully?), we as a nation will make the necessary investments to mitigate against even more damaging events.