The number of American preppers appears to have grown in recent years. With shows such as “Doomsday Preppers” on major television networks, the prepper lifestyle has become a bit more mainstream. If one space physicist is correct, now may be a better time than ever.
According to research published by Pete Riley, senior scientist at Predictive Science in San Diego, Calif., in Space Weather, there is about a one in eight chance that the Earth will be hit by a massive solar megastorm this decade. The event would likely fry electrical components and cause trillions of dollars in damage.
Solar flares are caused because the sun goes through an 11-year cycle of increased and decreased activity. During solar maximum, sunspots and enormous magnetic whirlwinds erupt from its surface. Sometimes, the flares burst outward from the sun, spewing a mass of charged particles out into space.
The biggest solar event ever to affect Earth, the Carrington Event, occurred in 1859. Astronomer Richard Carrington watched an enormous solar flare erupt from the sun’s surface, emitting a particle stream at the Earth traveling more than 4 million miles per hour. When the energy reached the Earth’s atmosphere, the particles generated the intense ghostly ribbons of light known as auroras.
A 2008 report conducted by the National Research Council concluded that in today’s electronic world a similar event could spark: “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking, and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”