Humanity: bullets dodged

Humanity it like Neo in The Matrix. Somehow we have dodged dozens of existential and civilization destroying bullets. A common destructor that often goes ignored is the CME. A coronal mass ejection is a pulse of electro-magnetically charged particles ejected from a star. Such ejections most often blow on by planets. But sometimes these pulses are large enough and directed enough to drive straight into nearby planets.

Life tends to ignore these events as their impact on survival or on DNA mutation tends to be minimal. But a sentient species evolving into an electrically powered civilization must develop amongst the very real probability that CMEs will alter and perhaps curtail their electro-magnetic energy manipulating progress.

The next massive CME to strike Earth will have a severe impact on our society. So far we've been extremely lucky. All throughout humanity's electricity leveraging debut, say from 1900 on, Earth has managed to avoid what is called a Carrington level event. In 1959 a solar flare which produced a resulting coronal mass ejection was witnessed by Richard Carrington. This event did minor damage to society as at that time the only electrical devices that existed were telegraph wires and stations across North America. In 2012 a massive CME barely missed Earth. This event, it is supposed, would have most likely crushed the planet's electricity generation and distribution systems -- had it hit directly.

Humanity has been lucky. From the global mass extinction events that laid the stage for mammal dominance, to the advent of the Holocene, an unusually warm and stable ecological time; from the availability and timely presentation of fossil fuels to the fact that we've missed being erased by asteroids, super volcanoes, epidemics, famines, droughts, and all of our self created existential threats. During our years of the discovery and exploitation of the electron we've managed to avoid being hit by a CME. Or a sequence of CMEs. 

Imagine if CMEs had been common...

Our Goldilocks location has both its benefits and risks. It's nice and warm here, and liquid water is convenient, but being so close to Sol does increase our risk of exposure to solar burps and belches; caustic destructive eruptions. If every 10 to 50 years an X+ class solar flare, pointed straight at Earth, resulted in a CME large enough to fry a vast portion of our electrical support systems... that would suck! It would be like having our technological advances cut off at the knees every generation or so. Where would society be if that were to have occurred?

Humans might have figured out how to create Faraday cages around much of our infrastructure and sensitive instruments. Buildings and homes shielded from CMEs might have evolved. Regardless, a consistent bombardment of CMEs would have surely negatively impacted our electro-magnetic manipulating capabilities. 

I posit that our luck, so far, is unique. That alien planets with alien life growing sentient beings who are trying to develop technologies like radio would have just as much trouble, would be exposed to equal risks of electrical disruption by CMEs as we are. Luck has played a huge part in the fact that I can write this on a electrical device and send it over copper wires to millions of people. Hopefully a CME doesn't hit before I tap the ENTER K.....


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