A (terrifying) new report by NASA shows that in 2012, we had a very close shave with a solar superstorm.
NASA reports that the extreme July 23 solar storm was “the most powerful in 150 years,” and could have caused a widespread power blackouts. “[A] direct hit by an extreme [solar flare] such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket,” NASA said.
According to a study conducted by NASA’s Charles Baker and his colleagues, “a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit” on July 23, but luckily, Earth wasn’t there. If the event had taken place just one week earlier, however, Earth would have been in the direct line of fire.
Solar storms of this caliber, NASA reports, pose a threat to all forms of high-technology: radios, GPS, satellites, and basically everything you plug into a wall socket. Life as we know it would come to a standstill.
According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair.
So basically, we’d still be reeling from this disaster if it had taken place.
Rest easy for now, Earthlings, but physicist Pete Riley told NASA we have roughly a 12 percent chance of getting zapped with a similar storm over the next decade. So don’t get too attached to your iPad. Or your running water, if you rely on electric pumps.