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You might think that Global Warming is going to destroy our civilization within the next 50 years, but there is a much greater, uncontrollable risk that could throw us back from a 21st Century techno-world to an 18th Century pre-industrial one in about three years' time.

 

The thing that makes our civilization what it is today is electricity. Blow a fuse in your house and Life seems to come to an end. Imagine what would happen to our civilization if there was no electricity. I'm not talking about a simple failure of our ability to generate electricity from heated steam, wind, water flow or even simply direct conversion of solar energy. Imagine if each and every transistor, capacitor or diode   in your devices fried. That's the First World disaster that could occur when Old Sol gives out its regular belch of electromagnetic energy and solar matter.

 

 

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There's a lesser-known consequence of a nuclear explosion that can drastically expand its damage zone: an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP.  EMPs are rapid, invisible bursts of electromagnetic energy. They occur in nature, most frequently during lightning strikes, but also as a result of Solar burps, and can disrupt or destroy  electronics. Nuclear EMPs — if a detonation is large enough and high enough — can cover an entire continent and cripple tiny circuits inside modern electronics on a massive scale, according to US government reports. The power grid, phone and internet lines, and other infrastructure that uses metal may also be prone to the effects, which resemble those of a devastating geomagnetic storm.

 

If a big enough Solar burp spews out over the Earth, can you imagine every motor vehicle that relies on an engine management computer being put out of commission? Imagine the death toll from crashes of modern commercial and military aircraft. There is a very high probability of one of these burps occurring in 2025, as explained in the video. Our only hope is that Old Sol turns his face away and the matter and electromagnetic pulse that is spewed out misses us.

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I've got a 100Kva Caterpillar standby genset in my workshop, with only 127 hrs on the clock. It only needs some diesel, and I can be generating enough power for the whole street.

I've also got a 1979 diesel Landrover that has no electronic chips in it, and which is as basic as motoring gets. I just have to ensure that I have a source of diesel that doesn't require electrical pumping to access.

 

We've had a few near-misses from EMP's in years past, and if you read up on the historical ones, they occurred before the widespread use of electricity - but they were still noticed via other electromagnetic disturbances.

 

I'm not sure that even a big EWP event would wipe out everything electrical, but it could certainly do a lot of damage. Didn't the Russians have an EWP event that damaged a lot of electrical supply equipment?

I can't recall the details now, but I'm sure I read about where they ended up having to replace quite a bit of electrical generation infrastructure.

 

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In the 60s the Yanks tested an A-bomb high over the Pacific (I believe it was taken aloft by baloon).

The resulting EMP caused quite a bit of damage to power systems far away in Hawaii, so they never did that again.

Possibly related, when a defecting Soviet pilot landed his MiG in Japan, the American military were pretty scornful of its low-tech electronics. Maybe the Ruskies knew the old stuff would cope better with EMPs.

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Here is an interesting and perhaps slightly less pessimistic video when it comes to damage to the grid.   The Grid vs. The Next Big Solar Storm

 

  Precautions are being taken with the installation capacitors that prevent DC entering the the AC system.     Interestingly the type of rock that underlies power lines makes a difference, granite being worse than sedimentary rock.   

 

One tactic is given the  notice we would have the UK grid controllers will switch on all of the interconnectors which should spread the surge over a wider network, somewhat diluting it.

 

Here is an interesting video that covers the loss of 40 starlink satellites   SpaceX Loses 40 Satellites To Solar Storm

 

I found this video to be very informative.    How Prepared Are We For A Carrington Level Solar Storm?     Interesting occurrence during the Vietnam war  several magnetic sea mines detonated spontaneously. It is thought that this was induced by a solar event.

 

 

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Yes, old style maggies will in all probability still work. So will old style points ignition still work. So will old style generators on pre 1970 cars work. Not so, alternators with inbuilt electronic regulators. But most of the solar doomsday perspective comes from partially informed paranoid speculation. Truth is, until an event happens whilst we have an electronic world, nobody can say with any certainty.

 

Probability of outcome ? Low.

 

Consequences of outcome - High.

 

At the bigger picture level, when it come to our power distribution grid, Our grid is not as vulnerable as US power grid, since theirs is mostly east - west, and ours is mostly north-south. Theirs is more vulnerable to a longitudinal induced DC component than ours. This DC component, when superimposed upon the existing AC load on our grid, causes a element of core saturation in our HV transformers. This can cause premature core saturation, which results in sudden overload (it doesn't necessarily destroy them), causing the transformer protection circuits to trip them offline. Blackouts result.

 

However, we have an 'auto reclose' feature on those circuit breakers, which will retest and allow reconnection if the perceived fault has gone.

 

If the Problem continues, after three attempted recloses, the circuit remains disabled until a human intervenes and attempts a manual reclose. Which hopefully will be after the solar emission has finished.

 

Sure there are some other more disruptive outcomes possible. But I don't see them as doomsday.

 

However, having been in the power industry on and off since 1980, I must say that I know of many co-workers who demonstrate their general faith in the power industry by keeping a genset in the shed, ready to go.

 

But that is not particularly because of fear of solar flares.

 

 

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When your circuitry is inside a metal box, wouldn't it have some protection from induced voltage spikes. 

Aircraft circuitry,  inside metal aircrft, inside metal aircraft hanger .

Like pulling the plugs & antenna coax from your telly before an oncoming thunderstorm hits.

spacesailor

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36 minutes ago, spacesailor said:

When your circuitry is inside a metal box, wouldn't it have some protection from induced voltage spikes.

I think you mean what is called a Faraday Cage.  Faraday cage operates because an external electrical field causes the electric charges within the cage's conducting material to be distributed so that they cancel the field's effect in the cage's interior. This phenomenon is used to protect sensitive electronic equipment (for example RF receivers) from external radio frequency interference (RFI) often during testing or alignment of the device. They are also used to protect people and equipment against actual electric currents such as lightning strikes and electrostatic discharges, since the enclosing cage conducts current around the outside of the enclosed space and none passes through the interior.

 

A microwave oven utilizes a partial Faraday cage (on five of its interior's six sides) and a Faraday shield, consisting of a wire mesh, on the sixth side (the transparent window), to contain the electromagnetic energy within the oven and to protect the user from exposure to microwave radiation.

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The Faraday cage only works when the item within is completely isolated by the cage. EG - totally wrapped in a couple of layers of alfoil. As soon as there is a wire coming in or out of the foil, that allows a 'spike' or external energy to 'get in'. So, not really all that useful to prevent EMP or solar eruption damaging aircraft or car electronics - because they have windows and antennas that break the Faraday barrier.

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On the Faraday cage topic, we used such a cage for radio work. It was a double layer metal room, no windows, the door was trimmed with hundreds of silver plated fingers that made complete contact with the metal door jamb, and the power cable had to enter via a broadband RF filter system. This created a radio silent room free from interferance. It also prevented us from creating radio interferance to others when we generated our own signals within the screened room.

A bit too expensive for the average doomsday prepper to store his CB radio or smartphone whilst awaiting armageddon.

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It would appear from a reading of the further material provided here that the effects of the solar burp on the generation and distribution of electricity would be rectified within a few days. However, can you imagine the extent of damage to so much of our property that uses even one capacitor, or diode, or transistor to operate? 

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OME, I think the chances of an Armageddon-type EMP from a solar flare are exceptionally low. Maybe we would incur a moderate level of damage, but I would imagine the repair efforts, particularly for vital infrastructure, would be extensive and immediate.

A lot of electrical and electronic equipment is actually quite robust - the problems would occur around areas where immediate electronic communication is used - such as ATM's, point-of-sale electrical devices, fuel bowsers and mobile phones.

Any problems there would simply mean processing and handling delays, nothing really to get concerned about. It certainly pays to keep a reserve of fuel on hand.

 

The major problems would start when critical outages extended beyond a fortnight - but workarounds would almost certainly be found within that time frame.

We have had a glimpse at how our supply chains can be badly affected just in a pandemic, hopefully that has led to better planning and backup positions for many operations.

Hospitals all have backup gensets that kick in within milliseconds of power outages, but if the electronics in a hospital are fried, that would certainly lead to major problems, and certainly delays in operations and testing procedures.

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1 hour ago, onetrack said:

A lot of electrical and electronic equipment is actually quite robust - the problems would occur around areas where immediate electronic communication is used - such as ATM's, point-of-sale electrical devices, fuel bowsers and mobile phones. Any problems there would simply mean processing and handling delays, nothing really to get concerned about. It certainly pays to keep a reserve of fuel on hand.

Can you imagine the panic in the First World if those "immediate electronic communication" devices stopped working? It's a catastrophe when Facebook goes down for an hour.

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Absolutely agree, OME.

Another Carrington Event would certainly create a significant toilet paper shortage.

 

But look on the bright side, it would cut down the road toll, and the screen time of our kids.......

 

I'm not losing sleep about it because it would only affect our pretty blue marble if the stream of ejecta happens to point straight at us. I gather that it is rather like a lighthouse beam coming from the slowly rotating sun so I consider it to be a rare event that has a high probability that it points elsewhere when it occurs.

 

Oh. BTW, in the unlikely event of a Carrington intensity event aiming at us, our grid, home solar, cars, etc, etc will go down due to loss of electronic control, protection, and regulators, because none of this essential stuff is built inside Faraday cages. And. Sadly. Onetrack's Caterpillar genset is unlikely to light up his street, unless it has a manual rehostat voltage regulator.... And good luck with hand starting it because it's start battery charger will have short circuited!

Statistically less likely to spoil my day than having MH370 crashing thru my roof.

 

OME do not use this depressing possibility to stop your renovating work.

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Yes !, lots of handtools 

BUT

Have I got enough stamina to use them !. I did fell a large tree when young,  with a hand saw & chopper ( tiny axe ).

Now at Nearly four score, l don,T know.

Even that ' spokeshave 'is getting heavy.  LoL

spacesailor

PS my youngsters don,t know what most of my tools are for, including my '  brace drill ' . A 'bib & brace' is fashion wear !.

 

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11 minutes ago, spacesailor said:

my youngsters don,t know what most of my tools are for,

It's your duty as a father and grandfather to drag your youngsters out into the shed and teach them how to use their hands. Not only does it give them skills, it strengthens the bonds between you.

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NOOOER

my girls are far more adapt at picking up ' skills ' from me.

My youngest can pull a motor apart & fix it !. ( no certification though ).

Alway,s in demandfrom the hubbies friends. 

Another now ' welds ' better than I,  and has benn offered  professional  work. Also can " farrier " her horses shoes , if she wanted.

Another makes all sorts of things that l had to guess how to make !!  SCRAPPBOOKING ! Die-cutting onto shirts & hats , then Herbalists for my aching hip.

The boys had to get  ' certification ' just to find work of any kind.

SO

We need one of our next generation to be the ' plummer '. LoL.

Our oldest G,G,son is in highschool , & has a perfect mustache  13.

( two or three years & there could be another GENERATION  ) No laughing matter there !, It is scary )

spacesailor

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6 hours ago, spacesailor said:

Another now ' welds ' better than I…

Reminds me of a slight, bookish teacher of English I knew; the neatest welder I’ve seen. His mother taught him and I guess she learned to weld during the war. Motivation like that results in amazing achievements. Perhaps real-world motivation is what’s missing today: a national skills shortage while lots receive unemployment benefits

 

I totally support the idea of passing on old skills before they are lost; I have a few of my dad’s hand tools and like to show the grandies what they were used for.

I still find his brush hook (from the 1930s) quite useful on occasions.

 

Just down the road our Heritage Museum has thousands of old tools and machines on display; some have been donated and restored by people who used them in their working lives. When they leave us they take a a wealth of skills and wisdom with them.

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