Apocalypse 2012. The Year the Earth Stops, or so we are told, according to the Mayan calendar. According to The Universe series, it might be the year of intense solar flares. These solar flares could essentially cause havoc to computers and electronics, potentially shut down America’s outdated power grid and disorient the Earth’s magnetism.
Each year, the Sun, our brightest star, emits solar flares while radiating sunlight to sustain life. Some of these flares are intense while some are minor. These solar flares are caused by fluctuations in the strong, ever-changing magnetic field of the Sun itself. These fluctuations, particularly where it lies strongest, can cause a coronal mass ejection from the Sun’s surface. Should the Sun experience a large disruption in its magnetic fields, the ejection could become huge and potentially engulf the Earth’s magnetosphere. Massive amounts of radiation would disrupt satellites, radars and other electronic equipment here on Earth, and this could lead to severe problems in countries all over the world.
The dependency on computers and electronics extend into everyday life, including third-world countries. Although they may not be boosting optical high-speed internet, like its developed bethren countries, there is sufficient technology from bethren countries to breathe some sense of technology. GPS, radio equipment, automotives and medical equipment from developed countries are used to provide assistance to third-world countries.
Particularly in the United States, these disturbances caused by these solar flares could disrupt more than the power grid. In urban areas, those temporarily without electricity, there could be riots in the cover of darkness, and looting will occur. With the police, fire and ambulatory services unable to communicate, people will be forced to rely by force on their own generally, if not to impose but to simply survive. Food could become scarce as transportation services and farming equipment are temporarily disabled, if the time to restore the power grid is not as prompt as expected. The government response to Hurricane Katrina does not endorse much optimism in its urgency to respond to disasters, and whereas Katrina, although devastating, was limited to Louisiana, the outage of the entire American power grid could take much longer than a few months of resolution. The American power grid is built on outdated power lines manually inspected by engineers in their respective posts with computers. This feed is still manually operated as these engineers watch over monitors to make certain that consumption is distributed where it is needed most. Although there are advancements in progress to make the entire grid automated, this automation, even if fully developed and integrated, could be disabled from the power of the huge solar flare.
Concerning the disorientation of the Earth’s magnetism, it could potentially cause floods, not simply into developed countries but undeveloped ones as well. This could severely disrupt the fishing industries along those shores and reduce food supply inland and for export. As industries all around the world begin to fail, it could bring the collapse of economies, and political structures would be forced to recover and compensate for these losses.
The effects of the “Big One” coming from the Sun could be disastrous. It would disrupt socio-political and economic structures as countries worldwide would be attempting to recover from power outages and the shutdown of electronic equipment. We can hope that the Big One doesn’t occur much like the farce concerning the change of this 2000 millennium, as electronics supposedly could not adjust to the change of year. With any luck, it will only be another false prediction.