Posts Tagged ‘solar storm’


Solar Storm 2012

March 23, 2009

Will things go “poof” in 2012? Some scientists say so. And so do people who believe in the Mayan calendar crap. And also people who think Sarah Palin’s going to run for president.

Anyway, I’m going to send you on a little trip. First, read this article. It’s long, yes, but enlightening. Then come back here.

We first heard about this on CBC radio in January. It really caught my kids’ attention; we were in the van when the report aired, and they understood enough to ask me what would happen if we had no more electricity. We bounced ideas back and forth for a while, and generally came to a consensus: we would be okay.

This is because we are fairly outdoorsy people. I was not always the imaginary digital personality you know and love; there was a time when I could go days without ever going indoors. Rivers and lakes, mountains and forests, canoes, kayaks, mountain bikes and hiking boots … that was my life.

I don’t want to brag, but if I were suddenly stranded somewhere — a boreal forest, a parched desert, an island with a smoke monster on it — I would survive just fine. I have those skills, thanks to a good solid Canadian wilderness upbringing.

So if the world gets knocked back to the 18th century, this family would make do. I can build a cabin, catch fish, hunt and trap wild game. I can even rummage through post-apocalyptic abandoned grocery stores for that last can of beans. The kids mentioned farming, and that’s something else we could handle.

But then the kids started thinking about the things they love that run on electric power. No Nintendo DS. No TV. No iPods. No telephones. This got them worried.

And then my oldest son won the day: “We could do like in the olden days. Tell stories and make our own books.”

My daughter chimed in with: “We could do plays for other families, and Daddy can play his guitar.” (In a nightmarish post-apocalyptic wasteland future, my guitar playing will become the most feared thing on the planet.)

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because of something I watched on TV recently; the relationship between people and technology was a major theme. It made me ask myself whether my increasingly cyberistic lifestyle was shifting me away from my love of the wild.

But it hasn’t. I still spend a lot of time outdoors. I live a few yards away from an access point to the Trans-Canada Trail, and there are more lakes and rivers within walking distance than there are fast-food outlets. And we take advantage of that.

Would I want to live wild forever? Maybe. There are days when that’s a tempting proposition. Of course, if it were forced on us, I would adapt. I would miss technology for the first little while, I guess. I’d miss podcasting, and emailing, and blogging, and looking at pictures of badly spelled Korean restaurant signs. But I think it would wear off. In the grand scheme of human history, things that plug in have been around for just a tiny, tiny fraction. And there’s something within all of us that’s willing to let those things go, pick up an axe, and start choosing trees to build the perfect little cabin.

In the meantime, I’ve got three more years to keep hanging out with my imaginary friends. And if the big solar storm happens? I know one guy who’ll be saying “I told you so.”


Apocalypse 2013

January 11, 2009

All you people who think 2012 is the end of the world (because the Mayans said so) — it turns out you were off by a year. Or maybe not.

A new report from the National Academy of Sciences claims the Earth could be knocked back to the 19th century if a major solar storm expected in 2013 has its way. While admitting the chances are slim, these guys in lab coats say the giant plasma wave, which sounds like a big-screen TV but is actually not, could effectively destroy all technology on the planet.

This would mean no cars, no computers, no communications. No infrastructure. No drinking water. No heating or refrigeration. Food and drug supplies would go bad immediately. Riots in the streets, right? Sheer wild-ass craziness. Basically, the whole world will look like the Bourbon Street the day after Katrina.

This apparently happened before. In the 1850s, a solar storm fried all the telegraph wires in the world. We have a lot more wires now … I remember this happening in the 80s; Quebec lost its power because of solar flares or something. It was pretty sci-fi. But I also remember all the Y2K nonsense.

Anyway, this came on the radio today in the minivan. The kids were abuzz with the idea of not having technology, and eventually concluded that it might not be so bad. And I had to agree. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to write for you fine people anymore. But I could do my best Pa Ingalls impression and chew on a corncob pipe, that sort of thing. We could go back to the land, grow our own veggies, hunt and fish; I could become some kind of travelling storytelling minstrel.

I’m going to have to let Buddy know about this.