PostHeaderIcon Obama administration supports fracking and natural gas exports

Obama administration initiatives last week support hydraulic fracturing and natural gas exports, despite environmental opposition.

Last Thursday, the US Department of the Interior released a draft proposal that would “establish common-sense safety standards for hydraulic fracturing on public and Indian lands.” Last Friday, the US Department of Energy (DOE) approved a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal in Freeport, Texas.

Despite opposition from environmental groups, the Obama administration apparently supports the expansion of the natural gas industry and the controversial technology of hydraulic fracturing. These events are welcome common sense from an administration that is typically deep in green ideology.

Good old Yankee ingenuity has produced a new hydrocarbon revolution. Vast quantities of oil and natural gas can now be recovered from shale rock formations, thanks to enabling technologies of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) and horizontal drilling.

US crude oil production in 2012 was up 30 percent since reaching a low in 2008. Natural gas production is up 33 percent since 2005. Bob Dudley, CEO of BP, forecasts that the United States will be “nearly self-sufficient in energy” by the year 2030.

Fracking is not new, but has been perfected over the last 20 years to allow cost-effective recovery of hydrocarbon fuels from shale. Water and sand, along with a small amount of chemicals, are injected under pressure to fracture the shale and create millions of tiny fissures, releasing the trapped gas or oil. To develop a large producing field, horizontal drilling is used to bore mile-long horizontal shafts into the shale. Fracking is typically used at depths greater than 5,000 feet.

Hydraulic fracturing is under assault from environmental organizations. According to the Sierra Club, “Fracking, a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes.” A 2011 letter from Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace USA, Climate Protection Campaign, and other groups urged President Obama to “halt hydraulic fracturing…until and unless the environmental and health impacts of this process are well understood and the public is adequately protected.”

The draft rule released Thursday from the Department of the Interior acknowledges that hydraulic fracturing can be conducted in an environmentally safe manner. It calls for disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, assurances of well-bore integrity to prevent leakage of gas and fluid into ground water supplies, and confirmation of a water management plan for disposal of water and fluids used in the fracking process.  Indeed, fracking has been used more than 500,000 times over the last 50 years without incidents of water contamination when proper safeguards were employed.

The hydrofracturing revolution has created a glut of natural gas in the US market. Prior to wide-scale use of fracking, natural gas prices reached $15 per million British thermal units (Btu), and port facilities were being constructed to import LNG. By 2011, prices had fallen to $4 per million Btu and import terminals sat idle.

Unlike crude oil, which is priced and sold in a global market, natural gas is priced and sold regionally. To date, the fracking revolution has been a US phenomenon, with other nations slow to join. While US gas prices have dropped to under $4 per million Btu, Europe’s prices remain above $10, and the price of imported LNG in Japan is above $15.

US producers now see an opportunity to liquefy the gas and ship it to Europe and Japan. Twenty applications have been filed with the Department of Energy (DOE). The approval last week of the Freeport export terminal in Texas is the first since 2011. The $10 billion terminal plans to export up to 1.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, or about two percent of annual US consumption.

Environmental groups have criticized the approval. “Exporting LNG will lead to more drilling―and more drilling means more fracking, more air and water pollution, and more climate fueled weather disasters like last year’s record fires, droughts, and superstorms,” according to Deb Nardone of the Sierra Club. Nevertheless, it appears that the Obama administration will support hydraulic fracturing and the growth of the natural gas industry.

Shale gas booms in Texas, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania have created tens of thousands of jobs. Low natural gas prices are attracting global chemical firms to build plants in the US. Thousands of additional jobs and tax revenues can come from LNG exports. Sound energy policy demands that fracking and export of natural gas be allowed, if environmental safeguards are met.


PostHeaderIcon M3.2 Solar Flare

M3.2 Solar Flare
A moderate solar flare reaching M3.2 was detected around Sunspot 1748 at 08:57 UTC Friday morning. The latest solar flare event was associated with a 10cm Radio Burst (TenFlare) measuring 450sfu, along with Type II and IV Radio Emissions (Sweep Frequency Events). The active region is now in a geoeffective position for Earth directed Coronal Mass Ejecitons. I will provide further updates should a CME be associated. Stay Tuned for more information. Image below by SDO.


PostHeaderIcon Deadly tornado strikes Texas town of Granbury

A tornado has ripped through a town in the US state of Texas, resulting in six deaths, officials say.

Homes were destroyed when the tornado hit Granbury, 70 miles (110km) west of Dallas, late on Wednesday.

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds warned the death toll could rise as rescue teams search the area. Several people are being treated for injuries at local hospitals.

The tornado was one of three to hit northern Texas on Wednesday night.

A tornado near Seymour, Texas

One Granbury resident described the tornado’s impact to Reuters: “The house started shaking. We were in a closet.

“You could hear it – it sounded like a train going off. It was scary,” he said.

Officials report the tornado caused multiple fatalities as it tore through Granbury

Sheriff Deeds said he hoped the number of dead would remain at six, as officials awaited daybreak.

“I’ve been assured by my deputies on the scene that they’re pretty confident with the six that they found, but there was a report that two of these people that they found were not even near their homes. So we’re going to have to search the area out there,” he told AP.

The hardest hit neighbourhoods were Rancho Brazos Estates and DeCordova Ranch, in the southern part of Granbury.

“I saw the top of a house pulled off, with lots of debris all over the place,” eyewitness Jeff Mangum told the BBC. “The whole sky was spinning in a thousand directions.”

Tornado swarm

The same storm spawned another tornado that tore through part of the town of Cleburne, about 25 miles (40km) south-east of Granbury, the National Weather Service said.

There have been no reports of any fatalities from Cleburne so far.

However, dozens of homes have been destroyed or badly damaged, according to officials and residents.

A third tornado in neighbouring Parker County has also caused damage to buildings, particularly in the town of Millsap, officials say.

PostHeaderIcon Life on Mars to become a reality in 2023, Dutch firm claims

Thousands apply to become one of four astronauts selected to set up a human colony in a plan that comes with snags

Mars, 2001, with the southern polar ice cap vi...

A few months before he died, Carl Sagan recorded a message of hope to would-be Mars explorers, telling them: “Whatever the reason you’re on Mars is, I’m glad you’re there. And I wish I was with you.”

On Monday, 17 years after the pioneering astronomer set out his hopeful vision of the future in 1996, a company from the Netherlands is proposing to turn Sagan’s dreams of reaching Mars into reality. The company, Mars One, plans to send four astronauts on a trip to the Red Planet to set up a human colony in 2023. But there are a couple of serious snags.

Firstly, when on Mars their bodies will have to adapt to surface gravity that is 38% of that on Earth. It is thought that this would cause such a total physiological change in their bone density, muscle strength and circulation that voyagers would no longer be able to survive in Earth’s conditions. Secondly, and directly related to the first, they will have to say goodbye to all their family and friends, as the deal doesn’t include a return ticket.

The Mars One website states that a return “cannot be anticipated nor expected”. To return, they would need a fully assembled and fuelled rocket capable of escaping the gravitational field of Mars, on-board life support systems capable of up to a seven-month voyage and the capacity either to dock with a space station orbiting Earth or perform a safe re-entry and landing.

“Not one of these is a small endeavour” the site notes, requiring “substantial technical capacity, weight and cost”.

Nevertheless, the project has already had 10,000 applicants, according to the company’s medical director, Norbert Kraft. When the official search is launched on Monday at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, they expect tens of thousands more hopefuls to put their names forward.

Kraft told the Guardian that the applicants so far ranged in age from 18 to at least 62 and, though they include women, they tended to be men.

The reasons they gave for wanting to go were varied, he said. One of three examples Kraft forwarded by email to the Guardian cited Sagan.

An American woman called Cynthia, who gave her age as 32, told the company that it was a “childhood imagining” of hers to go to Mars. She described a trip her mother had taken her on in the early 1990s to a lecture at the University of Wisconsin.

In a communication to Mars One, she said the lecturer had been Sagan and she had asked him if he thought humans would land on Mars in her lifetime. Cynthia said: “He in turn asked me if I wanted to be trapped in a ‘tin can spacecraft’ for the two years it would take to get there. I told him yes, he smiled, and told me in all seriousness, that yes, he absolutely believed that humans would reach Mars in my lifetime.”

She told the project: “When I first heard about the Mars One project I thought, this is my chance – that childhood dream could become a reality. I could be one of the pioneers, building the first settlement on Mars and teaching people back home that there are still uncharted territories that humans can reach for.”

The prime attributes Mars One is looking for in astronaut-settlers is resilience, adaptability, curiosity, ability to trust and resourcefulness, according to Kraft. They must also be over 18.

Professor Gerard ‘t Hooft, winner of the Nobel prize for theoretical physics in 1999 and lecturer of theoretical physics at the University of Utrecht, Holland, is an ambassador for the project. ‘T Hooft admits there are unknown health risks. The radiation is “of quite a different nature” than anything that has been tested on Earth, he told the BBC.

Founded in 2010 by Bas Lansdorp, an engineer, Mars One says it has developed a realistic road map and financing plan for the project based on existing technologies and that the mission is perfectly feasible. The website states that the basic elements required for life are already present on the planet. For instance, water can be extracted from ice in the soil and Mars has sources of nitrogen, the primary element in the air we breathe. The colony will be powered by specially adapted solar panels, it says.

In March, Mars One said it had signed a contract with the American firm Paragon Space Development Corporation to take the first steps in developing the life support system and spacesuits fit for the mission.

The project will cost a reported $6bn (£4bn), a sum Lansdorp has said he hopes will be met partly by selling broadcasting rights. “The revenue garnered by the London Olympics was almost enough to finance a mission to Mars,” Lansdorp said, in an interview with ABC News in March.

Another ambassador to the project is Paul Römer, the co-creator of Big Brother, one of the first reality TV shows and one of the most successful.

On the website, Römer gave an indication of how the broadcasting of the project might proceed: “This mission to Mars can be the biggest media event in the world,” said Römer. “Reality meets talent show with no ending and the whole world watching. Now there’s a good pitch!”

The aim is to establish a permanent human colony, according to the company’s website. The first team would land on the surface of Mars in 2023 to begin constructing the colony, with a team of four astronauts every two years after that.

The project is not without its sceptics, however, and concerns have been raised about how astronauts might get to the surface and establish a colony with all the life support and other requirements needed. There were also concerns over the health implications for the applicants.

Dr Veronica Bray, from the University of Arizona’s lunar and planetary laboratory, told BBC News that Earth was protected from solar winds by a strong magnetic field, without which it would be difficult to survive. The Martian surface is very hostile to life. There is no liquid water, the atmospheric pressure is “practically a vacuum”, radiation levels are higher and temperatures vary wildly. High radiation levels can lead to increased cancer risk, a lowered immune system and possibly infertility, she said.

To minimise radiation, the project team will cover the domes they plan to build with several metres of soil, which the colonists will have to dig up.

The mission hopes to inspire generations to “believe that all things are possible, that anything can be achieved” much like the Apollo moon landings.

“Mars One believes it is not only possible, but imperative that we establish a permanent settlement on Mars in order to accelerate our understanding of the formation of the solar system, the origins of life, and of equal importance, our place in the universe” it says.

The longest anyone has ever spent in space is 438 days, achieved by Valeri Polyakov, of Russia, in a manned space flight in 1994.

But the Mars One website states: “While a cosmonaut on board the Mir was able to walk upon return to Earth after 13 months in a weightless environment, after a prolonged stay on Mars the human body will not be able to adjust to the higher gravity of Earth upon return.

“There is a point in time after which the human body will have adjusted to the 38% gravitation field of Mars, and be incapable of returning to the Earth’s much stronger gravity. This is due to the total physiological change in the human body, which includes reduction in bone density, muscle strength, and circulatory system capacity.”


PostHeaderIcon Unbelievable Wingsuit Cave Flight! Batman Cave, Alexander Polli

Winguit / BASE-jump athlete Alexander Polli does the never before done—a tactical flight through a narrow cave on a rugged mountainside. The flight starts with a jump from a hovering helicopter, Alexander reaches speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph) while following a precise trajectory leading to the cave opening, he then fully commits and flies directly through the narrow opening of the “Batman Cave!”
Shot in full HD, this extraordinary flight exceeds the level of commitment most fliers would ever consider—there can be no attempting, the only option is success!
The narrow cave, no wider than Alexander is tall, is located in Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain—a location that has inspired this professional Italian Norwegian athlete’s flying dream his whole life. Alexander hopes his success will inspire others not only to ‘climb over their mountains,’ but to also fly right through them!

wingsuit alex polli

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Post-production: Sugodesign

Music and sound design:
Mnemonic Industries

PostHeaderIcon 7.8 Earthquake near Iran-Pakistan border kills 40

A major earthquake hit a region near the Iran-Pakistan border today, reportedly killing at least 40 people in the second deadly quake in the area in less than a week.

Survivors search the rubble, a day after an earthquake, at the city of Shonbeh, southern Iran, on April 10 following a 6.1-magnitude earthquake that killed dozens and injured hundreds. Less than a week later, on Tuesday, another deadly earthquake hit a region near the Iran-Pakistan border.

The state television network in Iran, Press TV, is reporting 40 killed in the latest quake, which hit less than a week after a quake in Iran killed at least 37 people.

The country’s seismological centre has pegged Tuesday’s earthquake at a magnitude 7.5, and said it was centred near Saravan, a sparsely populated area about 48 kilometres from the Pakistani border.

The U.S. Geological Survey put the preliminary magnitude at 7.8 and at a depth of 15.2 kilometres.

The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, and the Gulf cities of Dubai and Bahrain.

Across the Gulf, highrise buildings swayed and officials ordered evacuations. Dubai has the world’s tallest tower, the 828-metre Burj Khalifa.

Last week’s 6.1-magnitude quake hit about 96 kilometres southeast of Bushehr, the site of Iran’s reactor.

PostHeaderIcon China’s geoengineering plans dismissed as “fantasy”

The authorities are increasing their cloud-seeding ambitions in response to drought, but many experts are sceptical about the benefits

article image
China has a long history of “rainmaking”, but experts are sharply divided on the merits. (Image by

Airplanes loaded with cloud-seeding chemicals swept across southwest China early last month in a bid to bring rain to the drought-parched region. Tens of thousands of rockets and battalions of cannons stood poised to ambush stray clouds that might pass unwittingly into view.

By mid March a light, sporadic drizzle over Yunnan province brought welcome relief to farmers and residents struggling into a fourth consecutive year of severe drought. Local newspapers heralded the rains as the province’s first successful large scale cloud-seeding operations of the year.

This was the latest episode in China’s attempts to control the weather.

The water-starved country already has the world’s largest weather engineering programmes, and these look set to grow. In February, China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, announced plans to step up cloud-seeding and other weather modification techniques to tackle drought and boost agriculture.

Cloud-seeding is the oldest and most common weather modification technology, and often a resort during drought. It involves injecting clouds with frozen carbon dioxide (dry ice) or silver iodide, using military aircraft, cannons or rockets, to speed up the production of rain.

China’s bid to use cloud-seeding to guarantee blue skies during the 2008 Beijing Olympics caught global attention. But the country’s history of “rainmaking” stretches back into the distant past. Marco Polo reportedly returned to Europe from Cathay with an “explosive yellow powder” – and tales of how the Chinese used it to trigger rain, historian James R Fleming points out in his book .

Today, China spends US$100 million a year on operations to make rain, prevent hailstorms, contribute to fire fighting and counteract dust storms in almost every province.

It’s a figure expected to grow. “Weather modification technology is crucial to China,” Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration, told China Daily in 2012. During China’s 12th Five-Year plan period “our goal is to reduce losses caused by weather disasters from 3% of GDP last year to 1% by the end of the period.”

Doubts about effectiveness

China is not the only country looking for technological fixes to water scarcity. The popularity of cloud-seeding has rocketed over the past decade, as governments, companies and scientists turn to large-scale interventions in our climate systems – known as geoengineering – as a potential fix for water shortages and global warming.

In the US, cloud-seeding is used to boost rainfall during spring planting, suppress hail, increase snowpack in the Rocky Mountains and divert and weaken hurricanes. Scientists working for the Abu Dhabi government claimed to have created more than 50 rainstorms in Al Ain in July and August of 2010, the peak of summer. Indonesia recently said it had used cloud-seeding to prevent further flooding in its inundated capital Jakarta.Iraq, Yemen, India and Mexico all have their own programmes.

“Worldwide more than 40 or 50 countries are doing cloud-seeding,” says Roelof Bruintjes one of the world’s leading experts on weather modification at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research who has helped many countries design and improve weather modification programmes, including China.

“With so many countries doing this, getting the science right is important.”

China’s false hopes on geoengineering

Though a prominent advocate of weather modification, Bruintjes is critical of China’s methods. Despite the wishful thinking of policymakers, cloud-seeding is “not a drought busting tool”, he says, pointing out that drought tends to mean less cloud – and without cloud, you can’t cloud-seed. Such techniques should be used as a long-term water management tool rather than a quick fix, he says.

Paul Sayers, a water expert at the University of Oxford who is advising the Chinese government on drought planning, also dismisses cloud-seeding as a solution to drought, arguing the authorities need to get a better balance between supply and demand management. “Drought plans can’t just be about infrastructure – desalination, cloud-seeding – China needs to think about drought in a more strategic way.” A start would be to find a way of prioritising water allocations during drought to avoid irreversible environmental damage, he says.

Experts are in fact sharply divided on the efficacy of cloud-seeding. TheChina Meteorological Administration claims its weather manipulations helped to release 490 billion tonnes of rain – about 12 times the water storage of the Three Gorges Project – between 2002 and 2012. But many are sceptical about such lofty claims, as well as China’s recent noises about more ambitious programmes.

“My first impression is that it’s very much more of a public relations effort than it might be a technically sound proposition,” says Fleming, who is professor of science, technology and society at Colby University in Maine. Being seen to do something about China’s worsening drought at least demonstrates an attempt to fix the problem, even if it achieves little.

As the world invests more in geoengineering, China is also likely to want to stay at the front of the pack, he says: “If China is becoming a world leader economically and in some ways militarily, they’re going to have to position themselves as a player in this field, even if from my point of view it’s a slight fantasy.”

Does it work?

The danger, Fleming argues, is that a focus on weather manipulation distracts from the lifestyle changes that can really make a difference to our environment. The biggest impact on the Beijing Olympics came not from the much-hyped “cocktail of artillery shell ordinance” used to bust up clouds, he says, but lower-key measures to slow down traffic into the city, which reduced hydrocarbons and helped clear the air, compounded by a “fortuitous weather pattern”.

This gets to the heart of the problem with evaluating cloud-seeding, namely the difficulty proving cause and effect. Weather is complex, shifting and difficult to understand – crediting shell fire for subsequent rain is easy enough in political rhetoric, but harder to stand up scientifically.

Some of the research that has been done strikes a sceptical tone. In 2003, the US National Research Council published a study that questioned the effectiveness of cloud-seeding and the extent of impacts outside of local areas. The report called for greater research into practices for understanding and improving cloud-seeding impacts.

To complicate things further, rising levels of pollution in the atmosphere could reduce the effectiveness of cloud-seeding, says Bruintjes. His research on inadvertent weather modification, including the effects of smoke and pollution on clouds and rainfall, suggests that what works in an unpolluted region may not in a highly polluted one.

He says more research is urgently needed in China, where the approach has been chaotic and unscientific:“They have made some claims but there is no evaluation available that can substantiate their claims,” he says. China has started to invest more in upgrading technology and evaluation methods, adds Bruintjes, but results will be slow to show.

Research is costly, admits Bruintjes, but if you can get 10-15% of water out of cloud, it’s cost-effective – “five to 15 times cheaper” than any water-saving alternative, such as building reservoirs, desalination plants or water-transfer programmes.

Fears of local and regional conflict

Concerns stretch beyond efficacy and cost, however. Fleming points out that commerce is playing a driving role in weather modification. His studies of dry areas of the US show funding for rainfall enhancement is coming not from the government, but from water companies, irrigation companies and hydropower companies.

Officials in China have also talked about providing cloud-seeding as a service to the private sector. The prospect of companies paying for rain to fall in one area – potentially meaning it won’t fall somewhere else – will inevitably raise knotty questions about water rights and public access to resources.

Some commentators are also fearful that growing use of weather modification could lead to conflict both within and between states.

Its development is already closely linked with military espionage. During the Cold War, US scientists debated weather modification as one way to destroy Soviet agricultural harvests and incite internal dissent. The US military used cloud-seeding in the Vietnam War to disrupt transport of military supplies along the Ho Chi Minh, a move it’s claimed triggered catastrophic flooding and widespread starvation.

James Lee, professor at the American University, Washington and author ofClimate Change and Armed Conflict, has even suggested the US military is investing in cloud-seeding as an excuse for developing drones. Almost inevitably, Lee fears the widespread use of weather modification could trigger resource conflicts: “There are so many countries involved in this that I think at some time, one country is going to say to the other ‘hey, you’re stealing our rain’.”

PostHeaderIcon Major Ed Dames – Japan/North Korea/Solar Killshot (Dramatic Predictions)

The world’s foremost remote viewing teacher, Edward A. Dames, Major, U.S. Army (ret.) is a decorated military intelligence officer and an original member of the U.S. Army prototype remote viewing training program. He served as the training and operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s psychic intelligence (PSIINT) collection unit, and currently serves as executive director for the Matrix Intelligence Agency, a private consulting group.
He served as both training and operations officer for the U.S. government’s TOP SECRET psychic espionage unit.

PostHeaderIcon M6.5 Solar Flare + CME / Proton Levels

M6.5 Solar Flare + CME / Proton Levels
The strongest solar flare in quite some time took place within the past couple of hours around Sunspot 1719. The moderately strong event measuring M6.5 took place at 07:16 UTC. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is now visible in the latest STEREO Ahead and STEREO Behind COR2 imagery. Because 1719 is now squarely facing Earth, the plasma should be directed this way. This will raise the chances of geomagnetic storming by this weekend. Stay Tuned to for the latest information.

Click HERE for video capturing the Solar Flare and CME.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Apr 11 0702 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1370 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

ALERT: Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Apr 11 0702 UTC
Description: Type IV emissions occur in association with major eruptions on the sun and are typically associated with strong coronal mass ejections and solar radiation storms.

CME Update: A bright Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is visible within the new Lasco imagery. It appears in this image that a bulk of the plasma is directed towards the east, however although hard to see in the image below, there is an earthward component that should impact Earth. Stay Tuned for updates.

Proton Levels: Energetic Proton levels streaming past Earth are now on the rise following the solar flare from earlier. A radiation storm will soon be possible.

Credit –

PostHeaderIcon Solar Flares: Scientists Change 2013 Predictions …

Solar flare predictions for 2013 are once again fluctuating. Space weather experts at NOAA and NASA agree that we are nearing the peak of the Sun’s 11-year cycle, but that is about the only fact that has garnered a consensus lately.

Massive X6.9 class solar flare, August 9, 2011...

Coronal mass ejections (CME) are formed from sun spots. Scientists only learned how solar flares were formed during the past two decades. Since then, attempts to track and predict both CME direction and intensity have been ongoing. Solar Cycle 24 was expected to hit its peak in 2013, but then the experts thought the peak might be on the two-hump variety. Recent solar flare reports largely indicated that the solar peak would likely occur in May. Now the solar storm experts think Sun Cycle 24 might not peak until later in 2013 or possibly even 2014.

Basically, when or if a massive Earth-directed solar flare will hit is unknown. Solar flare activity has relatively quiet as of late. The lack of CMEs has some scientists believing Sun Cycle 24 will have a weak peak, yet others think this could be the calm before the storm.

NASA solar physicist C. Alex Young said, “If you look back in history, many of the previous solar cycles don’t have one ump, one maximum, but in fact have two.” The physicist was a featured speakers on NASA’s “Solar MAX Storm Warning: Effects on the Solar System webcast.

Concerns about a Carrington Event strength solar flare have some scientists prodding Congress to do more to protect our aging and overly-taxed power grid. Stores which sell prepping and survival products are booming. Fears about the possible life-changing impact a massive Earth-directed solar flare could bring are not the only reasons survival gear retailers have experienced a recent surge in sales. EMP attack threats by North Korea and the ongoing gun control debate also likely play a role in purchase habits of survival-focused Americans.

Solar activity, while relatively calm, remains ongoing. The most recent large coronal mass ejections happened on March 15. The CMA prompted a “glancing blow” at Earth two days after it was spotted. The solar flare prompted a mild geomagnetic storm which did not boast any significant effects on the planet.

A strong Earth-directed solar flare has the potential to render the power grid inoperable for various amounts of times, and end radio and GPS signals. The duration of a downed power grid would depend on both the power of the CME and the ability to garner replacement transformers and other necessary repair equipment.

How concerned about you about the power grid if Earth is hit by a maximum solar flare?