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Do solar storms impact your health?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: solar storms, health, technology

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(NaturalNews) You may not know it, but all of the solar activity that is occurring now and likely to occur throughout 2012 could eventually have an impact on your overall health.

According to scientists, http://news.discovery.com earlier this month hurled radiation towards earth at speeds of 6 million miles per hour, causing storms in the atmosphere that have huge implications for the planet - and for all of us, as well.

Such geomagnetic storms, for instance, can wreak havoc on cell phone service by shaking up the planet's magnetosphere. The event can cause disruptions in the operation of magnetic compasses, radar, GPS signals and, of course, cell phones.

Also, such storms affect air travel by hitting aircraft with unsafe levels of radiation and by interfering with navigation and communications systems as well. After a major CME in January, Canadian and American airlines rerouted planes over the Arctic Circle, which caused massive delays.

Technology most at risk

Geomagnetic events can also have a detrimental effect on power grids. When magnetic fields find something that can conduct them - such as electric power generators and transformers - they can be very destructive, leading to large-scale blackouts. In fact, in 1989, one of the largest blackouts due to geomagnetic storms occurred, knocking out power to the entire province of Quebec, Canada.

Finally, the really bad news is, these storms are only going to get larger. Scientists say the frequency of such events rises and falls in 11-year cycles, and currently the solar system is engaged in the most intense period of the current cycle. The more intense storms for this cycle are due to occur in 2013 and 2014. Currently, the sun is in the midst of Solar Cycle 24.

One good thing: such storms create stunning visual affects at the North and South Poles.

The recent eruption came from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that's been particularly active recently. The current activity has sparked the strongest radiation storm since 2003, scientists have said.

The storms pose no danger to humans because the earth's atmosphere shields us from the dangerous radiation. But without that protection, the doses of radiation being spewed at us from the current activity could be very harmful, even fatal.

Our technology, however, isn't as well-protected.

'Be very afraid'

While scientists note that solar flares and events can't destroy the earth, they are enough of a threat that some governments are adding them to a list of dangers that include terrorist attacks, flu outbreaks and volcanic eruptions.

Recently Great Britain http://www.dailymail.co.uk, according to the government's National Risk Register for Civil Emergencies.

"We are becoming more and more reliant on technology, and that technology is becoming more and more delicate," Conservative MP James Arbuthnot, chairman of Parliament's defense committee, told a London newspaper. "Be afraid, be very afraid."

"Potentially the biggest risk of all is to the electricity supply. Now in the U.S. that is deemed to be a catastrophic risk. They could lose a very large proportion of their power grid," said Mark Gibbs, one of the Met Office's representatives on the committee. "In the UK, for many different reasons - better engineering design, different way it operates, geology - the risk is less severe, but it is a risk nonetheless. Society can't function without power."

Britain added volcanic eruptions to its risk register this year as well.

Because the sun is so far away, we have a little bit of advanced warning when it comes to protecting our technology infrastructure.

"[W]hen a solar storm occurs, it takes several days for the charged particles to reach Earth. When a big coronal mass ejection is on its way, satellites can briefly shut their systems off. Earth-based power grids can be reconfigured to provide extra grounding. And so on," said EarthSky.org, a scientific advocacy group.

Sources for this article include:

http://news.discovery.com

http://www.dailymail.co.uk

http://earthsky.org/space/are-solar-storms-dangerous-to-us

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