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Disaster Porn, For Once for Real

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The first question that I asked was, 'Well, wait, there are a lot of solar storms. Why would this one have been so bad?' The rapid transformation of human civilization over the last two centuries can change our climate. But I'm pretty sure we're not affecting the operation of the Sun. So why now?

The answer goes back to the same transformation of human civilization over the last couple centuries. What came close to happening in 2012 probably happens fairly frequently over the span of geological and even civilizational time.

Something like it appears to have happened as recently as 1859. The key is that it's only now that most of the globe is criss-crossed with an electrical grid and various other electrical doodads that we're massively dependent on. In other words, stuff like like this has probably happened many times over the course of human history - just no one noticed, except for some weird or cool looking lights in the sky. Now it would be a very, very big deal with the blackouts on a global scale which could have taken months or longer to fix. A National Academy of Sciences study estimated that the damage hit $2 trillion.

So, most of all of us would have lived. And we'd still have the same countries and all that. But we're talking a major disaster of pretty immense proportions. And what's more, this report says there's a non-trivial chance (12%) that something like this will happen in the next decade.

More details and a video here.