Solar Storms

The solar storm cycle is well documented but still poorly understood.  Every eleven or so years, CMEs, coronal mass ejections – huge eruptions from the Sun’s surface – reach a maximum intensity, spewing enormous quantities of electromagnetic particles into space.

In Blue Eye, Lubimov and Isotov discuss the increasing intensity and irregularity of CMEs between successive maxima. In 1989, which was a minimum year, a huge solar eruption projected a proton cloud directly at the Earth, shutting down part of the Canadian power grid and fusing many of its transformers and in January 2005 an unexpected eruption on the far side of the sun blacked-out radio transmissions around the globe. The Halloween eruptions, during October and November 2003 – the most powerful in recent times – ejected electromagnetic particles at sub-speed of light velocities, (almost 50 times faster than a normal flare) causing their relative masses to greatly increase, transforming them from peas into bullets. Thankfully they skirted the Earth but cost modelling analyses have shown that a direct hit would cause damage running into trillions of US dollars. But more frightening is that it might take years, not months, to repair and reconnect power systems.

The Carrington Event of 1859 was several times more intense than the Halloween storms and although little scientific data exists, there are many newspaper accounts of its widespread impact. The night sky was lit up for days, confusing wildlife. Telegraph systems across the globe were downed and compasses span uselessly, incapacitating shipping fleets. Fortunately, daily life was hardly reliant on electricity and communities were far more self-sufficient. However, such an event in current times might irrevocably change the way we live and scientists state that it will happen again at some future date cannot predict when.

In May 2014, a few months after the first edition of Blue Eye went into print, I learnt from a NASA bulletin that a solar super-storm had narrowly missed the Earth during the summer of 2012. The news caused a chill to ripple up my spine, leaving me to reflect on the prophetic aspects of Blue Eye. Of course, it isn’t a prophecy but the facts remain sobering. On 23 July 2012, an enormous plasma cloud was ejected from the Sun, four times faster than a typical eruption. Analysis of the data has shown that the storm might have been stronger than the 1859 Carrington Event itself. It was a narrow escape. Had the eruption occurred just one week earlier, the blast would have directly impacted the Earth wreaking such chaos that we would still be picking up the pieces more than two years on.

Eschatologists believe that the Mayan calendar end-point of the winter solstice of 2012 was synchronous with the beginning of a time that will soon witness such a catastrophic occurrence. My own view is that of Boris’; that the Mayans and other old-world cultures understood and foresaw that this current epoch of human history with its unsustainable drain and desecration of natural capital and intoxication with material satiation must come to a natural turning point – a paradigm shift – in the way we exist. But now, with the power of global interaction through the internet, and an ability to reflect on our actions, each person who is able to, can have an impact and change consciousness in a positive sustainable manner. Marie Louise Von Franz once said, that she hopes mankind will be able to continue the experiment of consciousness.