Released in 2012, Whitley Strieber’s ‘Solar Flares: What You Need to Know‘ put forward the urgent warning that if a coronal mass ejection of sufficient magnitude were to strike the Earth, as has happened in the past, it could destroy our electrical grid; a dangerous, and potentially civilization-ending scenario. Now, the United States government is heeding such warnings, having announced new plans to address such a threat.
On Oct 29, the White House released two documents, titled ‘National Space Weather Strategy’ and ‘National Space Weather Action Plan’. These documents outline plans for developing new space weather modeling, forecasting, and the coordination of responses to CME events.
The documents describe the formation of a new task force, called Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation (SWORM), an "interagency group organized under the NSTC, CENRS, [and] Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction (SDR)". Chartered in November of 2014, SWORM’s mandate is to "develop a national strategy and a national action plan to enhance national preparedness for space-weather events."
In addition to improved space weather forecasting and modeling, the papers also outline the need to improve international communication and cooperation on the subject. They also outline the need to improve the resilience of critical areas of the electrical grid’s infrastructure, of which depends on costly electrical transformers. These components can take months to build, and with few, if any, replacement units currently on hand, a disruption caused by a solar storm could leave large sections of the continent without power for many months.
While these plans have yet to be put in motion, the release of these documents is good news, in that the potential for the disaster that a massive CME could inflict on our society is being addressed by authorities that have the capacity to do so.