The 2012 Solar Burst That Almost Hit the Earth

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I can’t help but wonder if people worldwide truly understand how close we were to an epic cataclysm. The official institutions, seemingly, could not avoid acknowledging that something has happened; silently, peacefully, and quietly tried to overlook the topic and wait for the public to forget it. Some of the most important astronomers in the area seemed to overlook that massive 2012 Solar Burst.

I cannot help linking it to the Mayan Calendar. Too much of a coincidence.

The space void is immense. It takes a huge imagination (and I have a very active one) only to have an idea of the distances between bodies: planets, sun, and moons. Yet, the amount of all sorts of energy crossing the void is as well massive. Radiation in several forms, photons, and subatomic particles of all types of energy levels. The physics of the astros is wonderful.

Missing a possibly deadly event for millions of people is nothing to take it lightly. Although we´re much better protected now (because we KNOW it can become a reality, as real as an earthquake) for such an event, the truth is most civilian facilities are just barely prepared to face it. A little research is enough to realize this. The official silence is scary. There is enough scientific research out there issuing warnings and the need to increase the protection against EMPs, but it seems our evolution level as a species has not reached that peak.

We dodged a bullet.

That burst missing the earth was a random cosmic event. Renowned scientist Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado said, “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces.” The public never knew that this could have cost trillions of dollars.

Baker, along with colleagues from NASA and other universities, published a seminal study of the storm in the December 2013 issue of the journal Space Weather.  Their paper, entitled “A major solar eruptive event in July 2012,” describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012.  Fortunately Earth wasn’t there.  Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft.

“I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” says Baker.  “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.

The people issuing warnings were serious scientists. People of knowledge, not whistle-blower influencers. The immensity of that event was so large that the major organizations decided to ignore it. That attitude of “Wow. I don´t want to think what could have happened if that thing hits us” is enough to raise so many alarms. I am sure there was much more involved with that date than the scientific community is willing to share.

Here’s what might have happened.

Think for a moment. Say the burst is enough to fry every cellphone tower in the world. Most of the servers running the Internet are unprotected, at least for such a huge event. Anyone thinks the building is earthquake-proof until it starts shaking like Elvis. After living on the coast near the Fire Belt, I know how it feels. I wonder how much time will be enough once the burst happens.

Hours? Maybe some days; the coronal mass ejection that generated the Hydro-Quebec blackout on March 13, 1989, launched on March 9. Not too much time, unless you know already that it could hit beforehand and everything is in place.

No long-distance communications for a while: the radio waves will be bouncing all over the ionosphere and the surface for God knows how long).

Millions of people could stranded without mobility unless they can protect their vehicles against the burst. The perfect scenario for a bunch of uniforms appearing from nowhere shouting orders and kicking doors to take over a helpless rural town, slaving everyone once food start to be in short supply.

As of today, we have a good amount of years to prepare.

The best approach is starting now.

By doing so, our children, or maybe even the coming generations, will not have to endure the consequences of an unexpected shutdown of a part of our civilization. I cannot even imagine how rough some teenagers are will have it without cell phones and video games.

I have seen in a few forums how people minimize the solar flare EMP capability of frying electronics. In the area where I used to work, the office buildings are built of cement, including the roofs. The storms and rainy days are frequent. One day, lightning stroke the corner of the roof, where the rebar was almost exposed, I suppose. The lights automatically shot down, and all the power plugs sparked, even some network connection boxes. As far as I know, all the protections worked well enough (which was surprising for me) and there were no damaged PCs. That particular building was not grounded, and the rebar of the structure redirected the energy to the ground.

But this is very different from a weeks-long event, with much more intense fields. One of the problems is, that protecting our infrastructure to prepare it for an event that could not happen in the next 100 years (or could happen in the next decade) is incredibly expensive: Bracing the Satellite Infrastructure for a Solar Superstorm – Scientific American

It is good to know that some people took it seriously: Huge Solar Storm of 2012 Would Have Sparked Calamity on Earth. I remember pretty well that year (I was with the flu and called in sick) went outside after an awful night, and I could feel a purple aura that was hard to perceive, but it was there. I never had a similar sensation again.

That year there was a lot of energy focused on the planet, I believe.

Some scientists tried to avoid adding fuel to the solar burst bonfire: No, Earth Wasn’t Nearly Destroyed By a 2012 Solar Storm – Scientific American. Nevertheless, the very own US Gov. has contingency plans for citizens. Sure, there are plans for a deadly zombie outbreak also. Personally, I will take the solar burst risk, which could destroy all of my equipment before the walking rotten corpses crowd. I could always get riot armor for my entire family in a heartbeat, and probably laughing like a lunatic you-know-who are the ones using such gear these days down here.

Protection methods

For this event, a root cellar would be a good choice. It offers the most protection for most of the subatomic high-energy particles’ radiation. The entrance must make waves bounce in the walls, losing strength.

A couple of 90 degrees turns, like the ones in the bunkers for nuclear radiation, can achieve this effect also.

Some materials will absorb this radiation better than others. It should be unnerving how the scientific community seems to overlook these preemptive measures.

Storing your precious high-end, more delicate electronics in a root cellar is probably the best approach: HAM radios, expensive computers, TVs, and any equipment you can imagine that could suffer the effects of a high-energy EMP.

Radios and ALL the equipment connected to surface elements susceptible to electromagnetic fields, like antennas or some sensors, cameras, or similar, should have a surge protection device in line with the equipment.

I know the experts will help us with this once they read the article. My experience is limited to small-intensity fields circulating in carbon steel…and a good understanding of the interaction between matter and energy.

I know that delicate medical equipment should be underground. It could make a significant difference in the future.

Heart monitors, breathing apparatus, electric wheelchairs, CPR equipment, surgery lamps, whatever you can think of with electronics. I would have this as a high priority. Once it starts, we will have only hours, or maybe some days as most, to package and load such equipment to take it to the bunker.

Expertise is a need here; even the design of the ventilation ducts has to be adequate to protect against massive radiation bursts. Nevertheless, the displacement of high-intensity electromagnetic fields from a solar flare inside a vent duct is not something they teach you at college down here.

Not being an expert in the physics of solar bursts, I have to mention that most of the research in this field is for military goals, and not to keep civilian networks safe.

Plenty of shady areas exist on this topic, and even Mr. Robert Manning, vice president for transmission at the Electric Power Research Institute, agrees that the measures to control such events and dissipate the energy could have “unintended side effects”.

I am sorry, but after all the misinformation we experienced regarding the most recent disease, I cannot avoid believing this is utterly intentional.

Experimenting with this is potentially hazardous for equipment, and I will not suggest doing it unless you know very well what you are doing. I do know the range of frequencies and energy levels will be something never seen. This is a reason good enough to take as many precautions as we believe.

Solar bursts usually do not harm biological organisms, but our tools and toys will suffer.

Much better to research and get some materials and gauges to measure any significant disturbance in the magnetosphere. If those gauges can be used remotely, so much better, so make sure to research this.

Make wise choices regarding your rack batteries, as well.

Lithium-ion batteries need electronics to charge: a small circuit called BMS, to make sure each cell charges at the best rate and avoid overloads. These tiny circuits tell the battery’s individual cells how much to charge, the rate to do it, and when to stop.

Once they stop working, replacing them with identical circuits is the only way to put your batteries to work again.

Nickel-iron batteries (my favorites for long-term and stationary power supply) do not need such sophisticated stuff and will gulp the electricity as it comes. Just don’t go full Dr. Brown with this unless your surname is McFly and you drive a time-travel pimped-out DeLorean.

Storing your EVs in an underground or semi-buried shelter would be a good idea if you want to brace yourself against these events. I believe a lot in semi-buried shelters for a variety of reasons, and concealment and temperature stability are some of them. The windows and openings for this storage room must be thoroughly protected. If space is a concern, surrounding the space with deep shelves from floor to ceiling on three sides and leaving just one opening for the vehicles is a good distribution. You could seal from the outside the edges with conductive tape to avoid fields in the range of microwaves coming in. Because they will. An opening of 0,1 mm will mean that waves under that size (determined by frequency) will bounce inside, and they could be potentially damaging if their energy is high enough.

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Myth: Grounding

As far as my humble research went on, grounding is not going to do any good for a Faraday cage. It will not hurt but will not help too much either. Regarding the conductors like antenna cables or general transmission (data or power), is a different story. Research about this, as it is an extensive topic and needs attention to make good choices.

Integrated circuits are inexpensive and easy to get these days. Make a list of how many and which type you could need to keep your machines running, and plan for getting spares if you believe you could need them. Any electronics technician could provide some advice and reinstalling them if necessary.

Faraday cages, EMP-proof duffel bags, and fabric or sheeting should absorb most of the radiation. Isolate the devices you need to protect from the floor of the cage. This should absorb and dissipate most of the radiation. One thing is for sure: if you protect your equipment properly, you will be way ahead of those who went back to the 1800s.

Going underground (or semi), depending on where you are, is a good practice. Make sure you apply as many safety measures as you need, and follow the rules.

There is a lot to research, as the real consequences are not yet clear even to the experts.

Having a well-protected underground cellar with an infirmary, a monitoring room, a radio communications room, and an entertainment center, large enough to protect all of your equipment doesn’t sound bad after all.

Keep tuned!


Did you know about the 2012 solar burst?

Were you aware of this near miss that almost hit the earth in 2012? Are you preparing for the possibility of a solar burst? If so, what steps have you taken? If not, what’s the reason? Please share your tips with us. Let’s discuss it in the comments.

About Jose

Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has an old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Jose and his younger kid are currently back in Venezuela, after the intention of setting up a new life in another country didn’t  go well. The SARSCOV2 re-shaped the labor market and South American economy so he decided to give it a try to homestead in the mountains, and make a living as best as possible. But this time in his own land, and surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances, with all the gear and equipment collected, as the initial plan was.

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