Monday, 21 June 2010

The end of the world - again?

I'm thinking of resurrecting the 'End of the World Sweepstake' as reports of predicted massive solar flares surface in the media. NOAA warning of a big one in 2013. Must be a slow news day, eh? Right, so we're all supposed to panic and tell the Government to 'do something'. Like what? Sensible suggestions on the back of a postcard please.

Besides, what is this 'Carrington Event' they're all gabbling on about? According to the Wikipedia entry, these things happen roughly every 500 years. Has it been 500 years since 1859? No? Oh.  If we are due a biggish Coronal Mass Ejection, I'd put my money on something like the 1989 event. Not the series of events described. Considering the current solar cycle (24) appears to be a closish match for Sunspot cycle 5, from the depths of the Little Ice Age circa 1798. Comparing like measuring methods with like, not counting every pixel, like SOHO currently allows.

There's also the question about how much damage similar events actually do. In 1989 such an event blacked out the Hydro-Quebec power grid but little lasting damage seemed to have occurred. Since then, much work has been done to protect power grids from damaging surges.

Regarding catastrophic power outages, solar instigated or not, the last biggie was in August 2003, which can be upsetting if you have a predominantly urban lifestyle. Yet did we hear much about this event outside of North America? Well I've got a pretty good memory, and on those dates I was touring Europe with Mrs S on my old Motorcycle in the middle of a heatwave. As I recall we were in Florence, Italy on those dates. There was widespread news of abandoned grannies stifling to death in the heat of Parisian suburbs, and how this meant we were all doomed, but little else.

You know what?  I'm tired of all this scaremongering.  It's like those sad acts you see on Saturday street corners shouting about 'second comings' and other pseudo religious idiocy.  Incidentally, JC has told me personally that he's not making a comeback tour because he recalls all too clearly what you bastards did to him last time. So there. Also, the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse won't be turning up any time soon because they've sold their steeds and got a cosy little gig as a Jazz Quartet in New Yorks theatre district. Although they do moonlight weekdays as mercenaries in various African states. Just to keep their eye in. The Sun also seems to be looking for auditions.

All the above leads me to think this NOAA 'scary flare' story is just a press release to put in a bid for extra funding. Besides, if all the Mayan calendar predictions come true in 2012, we won't be here in 2013 to see another end of the world event. Phew, what a relief, eh?

Oh bugger it. Time for coffee.

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