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Space Science

Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing? 356

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the or-maybe-thats-just-a-nice-cup-of-tea dept.
pilsner.urquell writes "A newly released NASA report warns that the world has forgotten the power of the sun, creating a technological society susceptible like never before to large infrastructure damage from solar storms. According to the report, the world has grown so dependent on modern technologies without respect of what the sun can and has done, that it's risking major communications, finance, transportation, government and even emergency services disruptions."
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Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing?

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  • by alexj33 (968322) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:20AM (#26417185)
    Space Carbon Credits are the answer. Make the check out to me.

    • Make the check out to me.

      Manbearpig has a different idea [youtube.com].
    • by beckerist (985855) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:31AM (#26418365) Homepage
      I have an honest question:
      How many people here truly think that if there were an anomaly that they would be able to survive without
      A) Electricity
      B) A grocery store
      C) Modern medicine -and most importantly-
      D) Fresh (clean) water

      I know for a fact that I'd safely have A, B and D. I live in the woods anyway, huge garden, plenty of animals to slaughter for tasty bbq and we have a very high water-table with multiple ponds around. Not the cleanest but I'd figure out a way to survive.
      I'm just wondering about statistics here.
      • by mulvane (692631) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:42AM (#26418543)
        What do you do when people with guns realize this and force you off your land? I had the same thing at my last place, including 4K of windpower and 2K of solar backed by enough batteries to last me through 3 days. Everything that could be gas was gas. 800gal propane tank. What was I to do when that ran out? Someone would find out I was living comfy and then more people would decide they need what I had more than me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by XxtraLarGe (551297)
          Just to make sure that doesn't happen, you should get yourself some guns too. Plus, back in days before electricity, they had governments that supposedly stopped this type of thing from happening in most instances.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Reziac (43301) *

          I've lived rough -- no electric, no running water, if I wanted heat I had to chop wood, if I wanted dinner I had to hie myself to the river and catch it. The problem is that now we have too many people for the land to support in that way. I'd be fine, but what the majority would do ... probably riot.

      • by Rob Riggs (6418) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:00PM (#26418899) Homepage Journal

        WRT to item C on your list: birth control pills. It would be a completely different world without that medical wonder. Suddenly having hundreds of millions more fertile women in this world would cause lots o' problems.

        • by afabbro (33948) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:39PM (#26419493) Homepage

          WRT to item C on your list: birth control pills. It would be a completely different world without that medical wonder. Suddenly having hundreds of millions more fertile women in this world would cause lots o' problems.

          Hardly. The vast, vast majority of women on this planet (measured in billions) do not use any form of birth control. A few percentage points' worth more would make zero difference.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Veggiesama (1203068)

        How many people here truly think that if there were an anomaly that they would be able to survive...

        I live in the woods anyway, huge garden, plenty of animals to slaughter for tasty bbq and we have a very high water-table with multiple ponds around. Not the cleanest but I'd figure out a way to survive.

        Oh, please don't turn this into a zombie apocalypse survivalist fantasy! Yes, yes, your supply of canned goods and guns are going to ensure your survival, while all of us are going to die miserably. Whatever helps you sleep at night!

  • finance (Score:5, Funny)

    by thhamm (764787) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:25AM (#26417241)
    "... risking major ... finance, ... disruptions."

    who needs the sun for that?
    • Re:finance (Score:4, Interesting)

      by oldspewey (1303305) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:35AM (#26417411)
      I'm beginning to think that in general, modern society is a Perfect Storm factory.
      • Too much optimization and too much interdependency do lead to a Perfect Storm factory.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShieldW0lf (601553)
        I'm beginning to think that in general, modern society is a Perfect Storm factory.

        Can you think of any intersections between A) groups who might be in a position to guide modern society that way, B) groups who might want society to end up that way, and C) groups who are positioning themselves to thrive in the aftermath?

        If you were given the opportunity to shape society to prevent such a thing, how would you live? How would you govern yourself if you were trying to systematically disenfranchise people
  • by brouski (827510)

    We're all going to DIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!

  • Rather dramatic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadPixels (1391907) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:26AM (#26417265)
    "Space Katrina" sounds rather dramatic, but wouldn't the atmosphere lessen the damage? Granted, it's still a valid concern that should be considered, but TFA seems like it's a bit more "doomsday" and a little less "this could happen".
    • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:36AM (#26417421)
      The damage comes about from EM radiation overloading the power grid. The atmosphere isn't going to do much to stop that.
    • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:5, Informative)

      by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:39AM (#26417459) Homepage

      It wouldn't. The damage isn't from the particle cloud itself, it's from the ripples it sets up in the Earth's magnetosphere. This makes the magnetic field move relative to any conductors (like power lines and circuit traces) in it. That causes an electric current to be induced in the conductor. The atmosphere doesn't affect the magnetic field at all, so it won't provide any protection from the disturbance.

      • Is it achievable to harvest this scale of induced current ?
        • Sure but the power station would never make back even a tiny fraction of it's construction costs.
          It's like building a power plant to harvest the power of lightening strikes.

    • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bender0x7D1 (536254) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:41AM (#26417509)

      Lessen? Yes. Could it still be catastrophic? Yes.

      First, every satellite would be "down". That means no GPS. No communication satellites. No weather satellites.

      Second, a violent storm can overload the power grid. Which means days without electricity - assuming important components aren't overloaded and destroyed.

      Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

      So, as long as you don't depend on modern technology, you should be fine.

      • Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

        No, landline phones have really long wires, so they'd have the same problems as the power grid. Wireless would probably actually be OK until the batteries ran down, I think modern schemes are fairly noise resistant.

      • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:11AM (#26418011) Homepage Journal

        Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

        It won't affect terrestrial radio, only satellite communications. If you can call 911 then they have power, if they have power their radios will work. Cell phones won't work well if at all, you'll likely not have any long distance phone service at all.

        It won't bring us back to the stone age, only back to about 1960. It will be an inconvinience, not the end of the world.

        • by profplump (309017)
          Long distance phone service is almost exclusively fiber optic. There is no reason it would be down.
      • by tsstahl (812393)
        1975 called for the return of it's infrastructure. :)
    • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dtolman (688781) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:43AM (#26417547) Homepage

      Think the report is kidding around? Go lookup what happened in Quebec on March 13th, 1989. The whole power system was knocked out in seconds. Then go read about the kind of storm they're worried about - the solar storm of 1859.

      It actually caused telegraph wires to short out across Europe and the Americas - some even caught on fire. If that happened now, it would cause global power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out.

      So will people be directly killed? No. But when the fly-by-wire planes fall out of the sky, your new car won't work, your cell phones are dead, power is dead, the internet is down, and landlines fried - I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

      • by dtolman (688781)
        Did I mention cars? Forget that - I was getting over excited there...
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by MatthewCCNA (1405885)

        your cell phones are dead, power is dead, the internet is down, and landlines fried - I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

        The survivors will envy the dead.

      • by khallow (566160)
        We also have to keep in mind that telegraph wires back then weren't protected like power lines are now. My take is that power systems would go down in most of the world. And then the ones that aren't constructed to 1859 telegraph standards would eventually come back up when the storm ended and broken pieces were fixed.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          We also have to keep in mind that telegraph wires back then weren't protected like power lines are now.

          Modern power lines aren't protected at all. They are naked steel cables. Of course that also means that they are unlikely to be damaged unless actually heated red-hot, but the transformers ? Each and every one of them will get the equivalent of a lightning strike simultaneously.

          Oh, and of course a solar storm might continue for a while, making the magnetic field go back and forth, so make that multiple li

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by khallow (566160)

            Modern power lines aren't protected at all. They are naked steel cables. Of course that also means that they are unlikely to be damaged unless actually heated red-hot, but the transformers ? Each and every one of them will get the equivalent of a lightning strike simultaneously.

            Transformers and substations have a considerable number of lightning and overvoltage countermeasures. Circuit breakers, arc chutes, etc. Maybe all transformers on the planet will go boom anyway, but there is significant protection available now to the electricity infrastructure against a once in a millenia solar storm.

      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        your new car won't work

        Makes me glad I have an old and almost gratuitously non-electronic car. I might switch back to the diesel version I had before - I've driven that with no working electrics of any kind. Probably not a great idea, not having brake lights, but needs must.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        It actually caused telegraph wires to short out across Europe and the Americas - some even caught on fire. If that happened now, it would cause global power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out.

        Power outages, yes.

        Fried computers, only if they're plugged in. And even that's questionable, since I'm pretty sure there are surge protectors now that are good enough to protect things from lightning strikes on the power lines.

        Things in orbit, might actually include military stuff (unless they use vacuum tubes or something). The problem here isn't the magnetic fields, it's the charged particles. A transistor can only take so many hits from charged particles before it breaks (depends on how big it is),so th

        • Re:Rather dramatic (Score:4, Informative)

          by jonfr (888673) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:03PM (#26418967) Homepage

          Please check the NOAA solar storm warning levels. They explain how far back to the stone age we will go when a big (X level solar flare) is going to hit the Earth.

          http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/index.html#GeomagneticStorms [noaa.gov]

          On the communications. It is not just satellite communications that will get disrupted. But also HF, UHF and other type of communication. Your GSM (2G or 3G really doesn't matter) might work, but then it might not work. It is any body's guess.

          People might be out of power for days or weeks in the worst case.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Lumpy (12016)

          since I'm pretty sure there are surge protectors now that are good enough to protect things from lightning strikes on the power lines.

          any company that claims this is bold face lying.

          NOTHING can protect your computer from a direct lightning strike.

          Hell your computer is dead if it's unplugged and sitting on the floor if a big strike nails the ground 200 feet away the EM pulse will pop most of the circuitry. I ahve seen laptops with burned traces on the motherboard that sat on a couch and the lightning struck

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

        I suppose you replaced "everyone" with "a lot of people" to take into account vampires.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jstott (212041)

        It actually caused telegraph wires to short out across Europe and the Americas - some even caught on fire. If that happened now, it would cause global power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out.

        Inductance is proportional to the length of the wire in the magnetic field.

        Telegraph wires had problems in the 1800's because those big long wires can produce some impressive voltage surges. Mod

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:27AM (#26417271)

    I guess there's only one thing to do - Destroy the sun!

    • by kalirion (728907)

      Hmm, I wonder how that could be done..... I mean shooting nukes at the sun is like tossing matches into an erupting volcano, so we will require something new. Oh where is the Sun Crusher when you need one?

      • by TheKidWho (705796)
        I think I know what we could do... Fires need oxygen to breathe right?? So how about we just use a giant space blanket to put out the fire?

        Now, where to find the blanket??

        Maybe one of these Giant Space Blankets [wikipedia.org]
      • All you need is a 12,000 km diameter sunshade. Preferably made from something light, say aluminum foil. Ups, that's 2 billion tons, maybe something lighter, aluminized mylar at 2 millon tons - we better get that space elevator build fast.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Sorry, dude, you're almost 30 years too late.

      When I was WUSTL.edu in 1981, the no-nukes movement was in full swing. Their slogan was "Any Amount of Radiation is Dangerous".

      So a bunch of friends and I started a movement called "Stamp Out The Sun", to point out how silly that slogan was.

  • by jerep (794296) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:27AM (#26417275)

    A study funded by NASA has flagged up yet another terrible hazard for those no longer able to get excited about nuclear war, global pandemics, terrorism, climate change, economic meltdown and asteroid strike.

    I for one welcome our weekly disaster overlords.

  • confirmed (Score:3, Funny)

    by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:28AM (#26417297) Homepage
    spacecraftconfirmsit
  • Cold War & EMP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gpronger (1142181) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:29AM (#26417321) Journal
    At the height of the cold war, this was one of the concerns. As I recall the detonation of a nuclear device in space would cause a massive EMF pulse (Electro-Magnetic force Pulse) that could trash electronics. (Yes, one on the ground is obviously much worse, but this would allow a government to "blind" an enemy without collateral damage.)

    It seems that with the end of the cold war, and the fact that an EMP can occur naturally, has been forgotten.

    Greg P
    • by blueg3 (192743)

      It's sufficient to just call it an electromagnetic pulse. But, to be pedantic, your choices for terms are "electromagnetic field" and "electromotive force"; the term "EMF" generally refers to the latter.

  • by i_ate_god (899684) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#26417329) Homepage

    Quebec [solarstorms.org] knows what they're talking about.

  • by converter (1025085) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#26417335)
    It really, really bugs me. A lot. I know they are only using it to give the impression of a powerful and disastrous storm. It just seems that likening a coronal mass ejection to a "katrina-like" event is as realistic as likening a tornado to that little swirl in your bathtub drain.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcatrage (1274730)
      How about them using the term Katrina at all. Just because a bad thing happened to Americans doesn't mean it's the worst natural disaster ever.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MalHavoc (590724)
        No kidding. As bad as Katrina was, it's hard to equate that particular disaster with the Tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004 during which hundreds of thousands died.
    • by Kozz (7764) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:56AM (#26417783)
      It was the best the author could do, under the circumstances. It was exceedingly difficult to draw comparisons with Libraries of Congress, Volkswagen Beetles or football fields.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dtolman (688781)

      Why is the term inapropriate here? Just like Katrina, the authors are describing a serious, but forseeable weather event, that could be almost completely mitigated with better planning.

      Plus Katrina was one of the bigger hurricanes you could expect to see, while the event they describe is one of the bigger CME's you could expect to see... seems like a good analogy all around (except one effects a small area and dunks a small city, and the other the entire world and will destroy civilization as we know it).

    • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:06AM (#26417933) Homepage
      I agree. People that use hyperbole are worse than Hitler.
    • by drerwk (695572)
      FTA - "a space Katrina, a storm that we should have been prepared for but were not"
      It says nothing about he relative energy.
      As it turns out, I am prepared for my bathtub swirl.
  • Bread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ender_Stonebender (60900) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#26417339) Homepage Journal

    Given that (a) the average journey for food items from production to plate is supposedly over 1000 miles in my country, (b) I live in area with few farms, and (c) Space Katrina is going to knock out transportation and probably the electical grid (I have an electric stove and oven), I have to wonder: Can the smoker I got for Christmas be used to bake bread? And what other essentials should I stock up on?

    • Re:Bread (Score:5, Funny)

      by eln (21727) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:47AM (#26417641) Homepage

      I think the standard protocol for these sorts of things is to sell everything you own, stockpile as many guns as possible, and move into a cabin somewhere deep in the mountains. Disconnect from all power sources, and discontinue use of any electronic devices. Grow or hunt all your own food, and try to avoid contact with the outside world as much as possible. Also, if you could learn to enjoy drinking your own urine, that would be a big help.

      • by cabjf (710106)
        Don't forget to build up your gold supply as well. Because once chaos rules, everyone will accept shiny metal for trade, right?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by shentino (1139071)

        Drinking your own urine doesn't actually help you all that much. Since the saline concentration of your pee matches pretty well what's already in your blood, all you're doing is retaining the same salt that your body is trying to get rid of.

        Recently, urine drinkage was disadvised by survival experts.

    • by mmkkbb (816035)

      Yes, it can. [about.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lazlo (15906)

      Can the smoker I got for Christmas be used to bake bread?

      Well, yes it can. You can bake bread in just about anything that you can keep sufficiently hot for sufficiently long. But I'm curious why you believe flour would be more easily obtainable than other foodstuffs? I know that in my area, there are a few farms that I believe have wheat in their crop rotation. I have no idea where the closest mill is, but any non-electrical mills are likely to be historical sites that are probably non-functional.

      And then there's the big question: between you and all of your

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Synn (6288)

      I live in Florida. We've had several storms hit us that would knock out power for people for months at a time. I lived in Fort Lauderdale a couple years back and we had a category 3 take out all but 1 traffic light in the entire county.

      I'd say the state is probably one of the better prepared one for disasters. When the cat 3 took out Fort Lauderdale, the local Publix was open the next day selling groceries.

      For myself, I very much make sure to keep around enough food and water for myself for at least a week.

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:31AM (#26417347)
    Seriously guys, I figured this out ages ago... -Faraday
  • If I remember they said there was a storm in the mid-19th century that interfered with _telegraph_ traffic. Which is to say, think about what it would do to microprocessors.

    • Because home computers create a lot of EMI, they're enclosed in metal boxes. Those same metal boxes help protect them from EMP strikes. The vulnerable components are those connected to the world outside the box: keyboard ports, monitor ports, printer ports, external USB, firewire, SCSI, modem, etc.. The parts likely to blow are those interface components, not the microprocessor, which is protected for a variety of reasons including its price. However, if the interface parts are gone, the computer is useless

  • Katrina (Score:3, Funny)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:41AM (#26417487)

    Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing?

    Man, New Orleans can't catch a freaking break!

  • by thebheffect (1409105) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:47AM (#26417629)
    At least he didn't forget. One of the events he mentioned in his writings was the massive corruption of magnetically stored data. I believe it was his 2001 series (2001, 2010, etc...) where he mentioned a devastating solar storm that wiped out a vast majority of Earth's digital records.
  • I hope it happens. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by plasmacutter (901737) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:49AM (#26417655)

    Private and semi-private energy companies, like all lnstitutions promoted by competition to cut costs, suffer the malady of products and infrastructure "built by the lowest bidder".

    Because of the nature of pure capitalism and even mixed economies, it is against the interests of any individual actor to create a more robust electronic infrastructure.

    This is a role for the dreaded "R" word..ok i'll say it.. RRRegulation.

    This is why i hope a solar storm like the one this article fear-mongers about happens.

    When it does, various electronic infrastructure companies (power, telecom, etc) will happily welcome a law which sets a minimum level of EMP hardening and other standards.

    It's important to note that, despite raising their costs a bit, it won't matter to them so long as their competition suffers the same way.

    The cost will likely be passed on to the consumer, but "main street" will also be happy to pay an extra 3 bucks on a few bills knowing region-wide blackouts of power, phone, and internet will no longer be common, especially with a catastrophic failure fresh in their minds.

  • by G-Man (79561) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:49AM (#26417657)

    "George Bush doesn't care about BlackBerries."

    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:16AM (#26418097) Homepage Journal

      Kanye West was wrong. George Bush cares about Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Condoleesa Rice, Barack Obama, and their ilk. It's poor people George Bush don't like, and their skin color is unimportant.

      Racism is a tool of the rich, meant to take your eye of the real problem, classism, and meant to keep poor and middle class whites and blacks at each others' throats so they won't see the REAL enemy, the rich bastards who are keeping the poor and middle class of all races down.

      Bernie Madoff stole fifty billion dollars and got out on ten million bail, if I get caught stealing fifty thousand dollars will I get out on ten dollars bail? And why am I the only one asking that question?

  • My bogus hypothesis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:51AM (#26417679) Journal
    The world has become so covered by interconnecting copper wire, it has become a massive Faraday cage [wikipedia.org] and is impervious to such threat.
    • by evanbd (210358) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:55AM (#26418791)
      Oddly enough, that is precisely the problem. A Faraday cage works because the conductive shield allows eddy currents to flow, which create fields in opposition to the original event. This prevents things inside the cage from seeing what happened outside. Unfortunately, the cage in this case is our power grid -- and the eddy currents in it are precisely the things causing concern.
  • Would communication still be so vulnerable? Most of the long distance shit uses fiberoptics, and a lot of the short distance stuff is underground... Your ADSL is obviously not going to do you much good if you have no power on the modem, but the backbone ought to cope reasonably...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      > Most of the long distance shit uses fiberoptics...

      Aren't the repeaters powered by wire run in the cable? If so, and if the runs are long enough, the magnetic storms will zap them.

      > ...and a lot of the short distance stuff is underground...

      Makes no difference. The problem is currents induced in long cables when the Earth's magnetic field wiggles around as it interacts with solar storms.

  • Answer the summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by colmore (56499) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:01AM (#26417851) Journal

    In answer to the ridiculous summary:

    No, a "Katrina-like" space storm is not brewing, because for a storm to remotely resemble an Atlantic Hurricane, it would need to occur inside of a frikkin' atmosphere.

    Bad journalism should be painful to the perpetrator.

  • by east coast (590680) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:12AM (#26418023)
    According the report, the world has grown so dependent on modern technologies without respect of what the sun can and has done, that it's risking major communications, finance, transportation, government and even emergency services disruptions

    That's why I keep a loaded AK by my home servers and my passport is right beside my 45.
  • by mindwanderer (1169521) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:17AM (#26418107)
    ...in the World of Warcraft forums when this happens. I predict threats of cancellation for inadequate solar-storm protection and demands for a punch-card character-backup system.
  • by jav1231 (539129) on Monday January 12, 2009 @12:05PM (#26419003)
    It better hurry! Only 8 more days to blame it on Bush! :p

    I know, I know...troll / flaimbait but not funny. *sigh*
  • Destroy the sun (Score:4, Insightful)

    by OrangeTide (124937) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:23PM (#26420285) Homepage Journal

    We must destroy the sun immediately to avoid these disasters (it will also correct global warming).

    The Amish manage to live without electricity, perhaps we should learn how to live without it ourselves for a few weeks. That skill might come in useful in the future.

  • by agpc (1083779) on Monday January 12, 2009 @01:34PM (#26420449)
    I lived through Hurricane Ike and have several relatives who lived through Hurricane Katrina. We went 14 days without electricity and I came really close to losing my mind. Two things I learned: 1. the worst part of not having electricity is not the lack of air condition (although that did very much suck). The worst part was the darkness at night. Basic tasks become impossible in the dark. Once the sun sets you go to sleep because there isn't much else to do. Flashlights are great until you forget where you put the flashlight and its pitch black. Cell phones are very useful for illumination until they lose their charge. 2. Ice is the most valuable commodity when you don't have electricity. Stores will eventually restock bottled water, canned food, ect... Ice was the one product that I saw people literally fighting over and huge pallets of it would disappear within minutes of being placed. Another thing - if you are involved in a massive disruption you are pretty much on your own in that you cannot rely on police or ambulance to come to your aid - they are overwhelmed. One good aspect of the whole ordeal was that I met and *gasp* actually talked to many of my neighbors. It was interesting to see that human beings are actually quite good at banding together during times of extreme duress. Of course, once the power was restored we went back to our indifferent ways but at least I know my neighbors now! Finally, contrary to popular belief, there was no mass hysteria, no large group of roving bandits breaking into stores or looting homes. I have a feeling that potential criminals knew they would have been shot on site because people were on edge. This is Texas after all.

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