When Disoriented Pigeons Can’t Come Home To Roost . . .
Vol: 122 Issue: 30 Wednesday, November 30, 2011
On Saturday, a powerful coronal mass ejection [CME] was sent hurtling from the sun straight towards the earth. But like most of the sunspots and other solar disturbances, this one was all hat and no cattle.
The sun exploded. The CME was ejected. The earth was in its path. On Monday, the earth passed through the sun’s magnetic field.
Nothing happened. Planes were still able to navigate safely — none fell out of the sky. The national power grid not only survived, the solar EMP didn’t even cause it to burp.
Although the CME hit while North America was facing it, meaning we absorbed the full impact, my electronics are all still working just fine. It didn’t even affect my cable TV picture.
I don’t recall any warnings from the government. Evidently, no warning was necessary, since nothing happened.
Still, here is yet another astrophysicist warning of solar storm activity peaking sometime around the middle to end of 2012 and of its possible effects on our planet.
In Tucson, associate astronomer Matt Penn says it won’t be all gloom and doom. Indeed, some of it might be kind of fun:
“One of the fun things that a solar storm can do in terms of your recreation is that apparently a lot of people race pigeons, homing pigeon races are popular in some parts of the world and there’s apparently some betting that goes on with these races, it turns out that homing pigeons use the earth’s magnetic field to navigate, during a solar storm, the Earth’s magnetic field has changed and some of these pigeons become lost and people lost a lot of money because of this, so solar storms really do have an impact in some recreational sense with us here on the Earth.”
My, that does sound like fun, doesn’t it? I’m going to start training my pigeons as soon as I finish this column! Who knew you could bet on them?
But seriously, Matt. Is this anything we really have to worry about? Or is it just more shock science?
“The effects on Earth are really dramatic, and in particular, the more we depend on space assets, satellites for communication or navigation or even high altitude flights, the more of an impact it will have on us on the Earth. For instance, the particles from a solar flare can disrupt the electronics in a satellite and cause dropouts in communication so if you are using your GPS device and the GPS satellite goes out, then you’re lost and stuck without navigation.”
Ok, that does sound dramatic. But since solar flares travel at about a million miles per hour and the sun is 93 million miles away, doesn’t that mean we’ll have more than three days advance notice?
That would seem like plenty of time to make last minute phone calls and dig out a road atlas. But that won’t be much help if none of the traffic lights work.
“As long as you have a disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field you can induce currents, in particular if you have a long conductor like a long transmission line along the ground, you can get an overload of current through that line. . . in 1989 in Quebec, Canada, millions of people were without power in the winter because within 30 seconds the currents overloaded some of the circuitry and caused a massive power outage. During a sunspot cycle maximum those events are more likely to occur and so we may be facing more of those in the future.”
So, what is the federal government doing to “harden” the electrical grid against a possible solar storm burnout?
Apart from wringing its hands and “cautioning” satellite users, not much.
We’ve been hearing the warnings for years. First, there was the global warming panic. Thanks to man-made carbon emissions, the polar ice-caps were melting and Arizona property developers were drawing up plans for beachfront condos.
Then the sun cooled down and, not-coincidentally, so did global warming. The more we learn about global warming, the more we learn how seriously we’ve been hoaxed.
But the panic didn’t subside. It just changed venues.
The die-hard true believers are still issuing shrill warnings about carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, but some people are at last beginning to question how carbon dioxide, which is necessary for photosynthesis, and nitrogen, which is necessary for the growth of all living things, could be harmful?
Then, as the evidence began to mount that the global warming hoax was little more than an effort at massive wealth redistribution, the sun began to cool, which in turn caused the earth to start to cool, which prompted non-scientists (such as myself) to recall something about the sun being the cause of global warming.
Now the sun has begun to warm again, as it passes from its 11-year cycle of inactivity into its 11-year cycle of maximum activity and the National Academy of Sciences is warning that the danger isn’t that the sun will melt the polar icecaps so much as it will melt the US electrical grid.
“Report co-author John Kappenmann estimated that about 135 million Americans would be forced to revert to a pre-electric lifestyle or relocate. Water systems would fail. Food would spoil. Thousands could die. The financial cost: Up to $2 trillion, one-seventh the annual U.S. gross domestic product.”
According to the NAS, the earth may not actually have 90 plus hours advance warning.
“A burst of X-rays, flares travel at the speed of light, reaching Earth in about eight minutes. While they can interfere with the electronics in satellites, they pose no direct threat to people on the ground because Earth’s magnetic field acts as a shield against this type of solar weather. This shield is weakest at the North Pole and South Pole, which is why space weather affects high latitudes the most.”
“More-precise alerts are sent to power companies just 20 to 30 minutes before a solar storm hits Earth. But if ACE fails, the space weather warning system will be crippled, said Tom Bogdan, who heads the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”
There is much more in this Washington Post report about the potential damage it would do to the grid and to everybody who lives inside the affected area.
Relocating to an unaffected area MIGHT be possible, if you can figure out how to rewire your car, find gasoline and then navigate highways clogged with stalled vehicles.
But for the most part, relocating from, say, New York to Texas after a grid failure would be about the same process as it was in 1890. If you don’t have a horse, get a good pair of walking shoes.
Solar storms are nothing new. Indeed, they are part of the whole fusion process that makes the sun burn hot enough to warm our planet. There have been solar storms for as long as there has been a sun.
Here is the important thing to take away from today’s report. That solar storms are NOT new.
The worst one on record was in 1859 and is known to history as the Carrington Event. Nobody died. Nobody’s life was disrupted. It sparked a few electrical fires near telegraph stations, but that was all.
Had it happened a century earlier, it wouldn’t have even been noticed.
Prior to the harnessing of electricity, solar flares and CME’s were noticeable only because the Northern Lights were visible further south. It certainly wasn’t cause for serious alarm.
From the beginning of time until only recently, solar storms, CME’s and global warming periods came and went without much comment. Indeed, warming periods were welcomed as growing seasons were extended and winters became less deadly.
It is safe to say that throughout recorded history, nobody had much cause to fear global warming or the Northern Lights. It is equally fair to say that since the dawn of history, global warming and the Northern Lights have come and gone without discernible consequences.
Now let’s go back halfway through recorded history, to about the midpoint between the time of Noah and the time of Al Gore. Back then, the Northern Lights were pretty and global warming was pleasant.
In the Middle East, an itinerant preacher named Jesus was asked about the signs of His second coming and the end of human government. Among the signs of His soon return, He said, were ethnic unrest, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences.
However, even as He was predicting those signs, the world as it existed then was rocked with ethnic unrest, wars, rumors of wars, famines, earthquakes and pestilences. What would make these different, said Jesus, was that like birth pangs, they would increase in both frequency and intensity.
But that is still fairly subjective. Indeed, the USGS claims the huge bump in earthquake since 1948 is not actually an increase in earthquake activity, but rather an improvement in earthquake detection.
It’s silly, but for them to argue otherwise would validate Bible prophecy. For the government, that is an unacceptable explanation.
But there is one sign that Jesus gave that IS unique to one single generation, somewhere in time, and to no other.
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)
As we’ve already noted, there is nothing new about sun spots or periods of global warming. Not only that, but until this generation, there was nothing threatening about them, either. Both have been around as long as there has been a sun.
But Jesus said that for one generation, to the exclusion of all others, it would cause the distress of entire nations, “with perplexity”.
The word “distress” in English is from the Greek, sunoche which means “anguished distress” or fear. “Perplexity” means “a state of quandry” or confusion.
Note this well. Jesus does not actually forecast anything actually happening to the sun, moon, stars or even the earth. The sign is not that something will happen to the electrical grid — although it might.
There WAS no electrical grid in AD 33.
The sign is the fear of what that would mean to the generation affected by it. No other generation in history would have cause to fear the sun — or have reason to fear longer growing seasons and less deadly winters.
But for this generation, it would be the ONLY issue capable of causing the kind of universal distress that would have entire nations handing their sovereignty over to the UN via stuff like the Rio Summit and the Kyoto Treaty in an effort to protect themselves from those things coming upon the earth as the powers of heaven are seemingly shaken.
Before that, the fear was that the sun would cool and the earth was entering a period of global cooling that would lead to a new Ice Age. Before that, well, that was before the fig tree generation was born in 1948, back when the sun was our friend and summer was our favorite season.
“And when these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And He spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:28-32)
Sunspots might be coming. The grid might get fried. The polar ice caps might melt. Arizona developers might get to sell beachfront property. But as these things continue to come to pass, they continue to point to one absolute certainty.
Jesus WILL return. And the signs say that He will be coming soon.