Thursday, April 10, 2014

LA Times on a Recent Coronal Mass Ejection AKA a Carrington Event

It could have been Deep Kim Chee time if it had taken place a bit over a week earlier: It would have hit Earth and done trillions of dollars damage, plunging much of Earth into darkness.
Earth barely missed the "perfect solar storm" that could have smashed into our magnetic field and wreaked havoc with our satellite systems, electronics and power systems, potentially causing trillions of dollars in damage, according to data from NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft...

...according to a study in the journal Nature Communications....It's a good thing this incredible blast wasn't pointed at us, scientists said....

"This record solar wind speed and magnetic field would have generated the most severe geomagnetic storm since the beginning of the space era, if the event had hit the Earth," the study authors wrote."...

If the solar onslaught had occurred just nine days earlier, it would have rivaled the 1859 Carrington event, a solar storm that zapped the telegraph system, delivering shocks to telegraph operators, and triggering aurorae -- a typically polar light show in the sky -- as close to the equator as Hawaii and the Caribbean. Today, such a storm would have caused far more damage in our now highly wired world, utterly dependent on electronics. (As further comparison, a much weaker geomagnetic storm in 1989 caused Quebec’s power grid to fail.)
More in the LA Times here. You can find a Lloyd's report, "SOLAR STORM RISK TO THE NORTH AMERICAN ELECTRIC GRID" here. There is another article, with many hard to see dark blue text links here.

Possibly it is time to crawl under the staircase, curl up in a ball,and suck one's thumb.

Or be at least somewhat prepared for a variety of issues, some of which are not hugely probable but pretty nasty if the do occur.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Teenagers After My Own Heart

A couple of kids on the way home from Europe seem to have caused a minor ruckus when they landed at O'Hare Airport. Funny that the European end of security didn't catch them. Of course, maybe they did and realized that such things are about as dangerous as your average doorstop.
Baggage screeners at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport have discovered two World War I artillery shells in checked luggage that arrived on a flight from London.

The Transportation Security Administration says the bags belonged to a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old who were returning from a school field trip to Europe.

TSA spokesman Jim McKinney says a bomb disposal crew determined the shells were inert and no one was ever in danger.

The teens told law enforcement they obtained the shells at a French World War I artillery range...

The teens were questioned then allowed to travel onward. They weren't charged.
The article says the shells were "seized" but does not say if they were also released. I can think of no reason whatsoever to confiscate inert shells. They are nothing but chunks of iron, and in this case also historical artifacts.

More here.

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Monday, April 07, 2014

New York Times Covers Disaster Preparedness Expo In Tulsa

Alan Feuer has a decent article about people selling to the disaster preparedness crowd at the third annual National Preppers and Survivalists Expo, in Tulsa, OK.
TULSA, Okla. — Disasters happen. It is a fact as certain as income taxes. And when a solar flare erupts or a flu pandemic hits, there is only one question that will matter: Are you, or are you not, prepared?
Not too surprisingly, his article tended to highlight the more extreme aspects, but at least he admitted right up front that disasters do happen, and will happen in the future:
Ever since Isaiah, someone somewhere has been talking about the imminent demise of civilized society. Still, one could argue that today’s connected world of globalized supply chains and multinational banks is especially susceptible to a catastrophic failure. This is not the exclusive opinion of the fringe groups of society: Just last month, a study financed by NASA found that, because of financial inequality and environmental problems, the industrial world could suffer “a precipitous collapse” within decades.
NASA suggests preparing for disaster? Another formerly respectable government agency gone moonbat, I guess.

One attendee who does not sound moonbattish, though:
Alvin Jackson, a jazz musician from New Orleans, wants to be ready....

“...I went through Katrina, and I’m not crazy. I know from experience that things go south, and it can happen just like that.”
Hard to argue with that.
it would be easy to assume that a prepper convention would be peopled with right-wing zealots with a taste for guns and gold.... But...there was also a countervailing element of organic gardeners, homeopathic healers and publishers selling books on the commercial uses of hemp.
While Feuer lets us know that there are some tin hats around, the article seemed more respectful of prepping than another might have been some years ago. Perhaps even some at the New York Times are coming to understand that when a another Hurricane Sandy strikes, taking responsibility for one's own well being beats waiting for FEMA.

More here.

UPDATE: I decided to write Mr. Feuer:
Dear Mr. Feuer, Thanks for your article on the prepper convention in Tulsa, a shortened version of which I read today in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

My wife and I live in Honolulu, and while we do not prep for the end of the world, or even a minor global economic collapse, we do prepare fairly seriously for hurricanes.

I wish a lot more people around here were preppers, and that the state and local governments were loudly and repeatedly telling us: While the Board of Water Supply has 200 pumps for the water system, which provides 900,000 people with drinking water, none of the pumps -none- are in hurricane proof buildings. Nor are the four back up generators they have for those 200 pumps, which are otherwise dependent on Hawaiian Electric.

When Honolulu gets hit with a Cat 4 or 5 hurricane, the electric lines and poles go down, and destroyed houses sever their water laterals, 900,000 of us may well be without municipal water for a long time.

That is why we store water, and water filters for neighbors' swimming pools, as well as food, light, radios, and first aid kits.

We have been told by several government people (water, police, fire department, and emergency response people) that no one is coming to help us for a minimum of a week.

We believe them.

And we believe them when they say "minimum".

Thanks again.

Tom Bosworth
Aiea (Honolulu) HI

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