Solar (GMD) threats of Bringing Down the Grid
A GMD (geomagnetic storm) is overdue as the risk is significant that a solar storm as big as what occurred in the Carrington Event in 1859 could shut down our power grid for an extended time period. NASA estimates that we face a 12% chance per decade of this occurring.  FEMA outlines that areas that are estimated at a 10% chance per decade are considered as ‘special flood hazard areas’. EMP, more commonly termed Geo-Magnetic Disturbance (GMD), is generated by solar storms, more specifically by geomagnetic storms, caused when a coronal mass ejection from the Sun collides with the Earth’s magnetosphere. EMP/GMD poses a significant threat to electric grids and other national critical infrastructures, that all depend directly or indirectly upon electricity.

The Congressional EMP Commission warned that natural EMP/GMD generated by a solar super-storm could blackout North America for months or years, killing millions through starvation and societal collapse—posing an existential threat no less severe than a nuclear HEMP attack.

Every major U.S. Government study, including those by the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that regulates the electric power industry, concurs with the EMP Commission that a solar super-storm could have catastrophic consequences.   However, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) disagrees.

The 1921 Railroad Storm was a true solar superstorm. It afflicted the whole of North America, causing widespread damage of railroad electronic signals and switching mechanisms.  The Railroad Storm did not have catastrophic consequences because the U.S. and Canada were not yet electronic civilizations dependent for survival on national electric grids and is estimated to be 1/10th the strength of the Carrington storm

The 1989 Hydro-Quebec storm is estimated to be only one-tenth as powerful as the 1921 Railroad Storm.

Nonetheless, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation incorrectly pretends the 1989 Hydro-Quebec Storm is a once-a-century “solar superstorm”, so NERC and electric utilities only have to prepare for the Hydro-Quebec Storm’s natural EMP/GMD threat of 8 volts per kilometer. Unfortunately a 2020 study by independent scientists using “the NERC benchmark storm” against the U.S. electric grid found that most of the United States would be at risk, and that even NERC’s preferred “solar superstorm” could in places generate natural EMP/GMD field strengths of 27 volts per kilometer. This is over three times higher than the FERC/NERC approved EMP/GMD Standard of 8 volts per kilometer.

NASA in a July 23, 2014 report “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” warns that, two years earlier, on July 23, 2012, a powerful solar flare (technically a coronal mass ejection or CME) narrowly missed the Earth.29 According to NASA, it would have generated a geomagnetic super-storm, like the 1859 Carrington Event,

The National Intelligence Council (NIC), that speaks for the entire U.S. Intelligence Community, published a major unclassified report in December 2012 Global Trends 2030 that warns a geomagnetic superstorm, like recurrence of the 1859 Carrington Event, is one of only eight “Black Swans” that could by or before 2030 change the course of global civilization.

It is highly unlikely the Carrington Event is the worst possible solar superstorm. In fact, the odds are only 16% that the Carrington Event will be the worst solar storm in the next thousand years since 1859 (160/1,000 = 16%).Critics rightly argue that NERC’s proposed operational procedures is a non-solution designed as an excuse to avoid the expense of the only real solution—physically hardening the electric grid to withstand EMP.

Recurrence of the Carrington event of 1859 is considered by many to be inevitable.

NASA estimates the likelihood of such an event to be 10 to 12 percent per decade, making it very likely that Earth will be affected by a solar superstorm within a matter of decades. Such an event could blackout electric grids and other life-sustaining critical infrastructures, putting at risk the lives of many millions.”

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