Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Severe storm 93 million miles away threatens civilization

And the forecast is … severe storm 93 million miles away, followed by death and destruction...

By Richard Luscombe

FIRST it was giant meteorites hurtling towards Earth on a seemingly unstoppable path to Doomsday. Now, senior scientists at Nasa are warning of another cataclysmic force from the heavens about to decimate life as we know it.

A 'perfect storm' of plasma and solar energy on a course to Earth at the speed of light could cause a global economic disaster. Picture: Getty

The sun, the scientists say, is awakening from a long and deep slumber and set to embark on a period of violent solar activity that could send devastating electromagnetic radiation racing to our planet.

One massive storm on the sun's surface, 93 million miles away, would be powerful enough to knock out power grids, destroy satellites controlling GPS and communications networks, ground airlines and throw the world's banking system into chaos.

The disruption to the fuel chain and subsequent breakdown in social order could leave governments powerless and tens of millions without clean water, access to medicines or fresh food, Nasa studies suggest.

If it sounds like the plot of Hollywood's latest apocalyptic movie, scientists are taking the threat seriously enough to have called government officials, disaster response managers, power company chiefs and other interested parties to a space weather forum in Washington DC yesterday.

"A storm of this magnitude would be a low probability event but would have a very high impact," said Chris St Cyr, a senior astrophysicist at Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland.

Learn more about the coming Solar Storm.

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