Our planet is due to be hit with a powerful solar storm, an event that happens about once every hundred years. New research shows that losses from the ensuing blackouts could total $41.5 billion per day in the US alone, including nearly $7 billion lost in trade.
A study published in Space Weather shows that a sufficiently powerful solar storms is capable of throwing the American economy into utter turmoil by knocking out the transformers required to transmit electricity throughout the nation’s power grids. Depending on the severity of the solar blast, the daily economic cost would be in the tens of billions of dollars, with more than half of those losses coming from indirect costs beyond immediately stricken regions.
Solar storms are space weather events in which the sun, via coronal mass ejections (CMEs), spews any number of nasties our way, including x-rays, charged particles, and magnetized plasma. Our high-tech civilization is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of these storms, which have the potential to knock out everything from handheld gadgets to the entire satellite fleet.