Back on July 23, 2012 a furious solar magnetic storm just grazed our planet. Had it erupted just nine days earlier, it would have hit us, causing extensive damage to our technological infrastructure. It would have been a geomagnetic catastrophe the likes of which we've never seen. Scientists say the close shave should serve as an important wake-up call.
We actually have a precedent for such an event, but it happened back in the mid 19th Century. It was called the Carrington Event of 1859, and it damaged the few electronic devices that existed at the time, namely telegraph systems. The solar blast managed to shock some telegraph operators and set fire to their offices. It even caused the Northern Lights to shine so bright and so far south that people could read newspapers by its red and green glow as far as Mexico.
More recently, a severe magnetic storm in 1989 wreaked havoc on Canada's Hydro-Quebec power grid, resulting in a power-out that kept six-million people without electricity for nine hours.
Back To The Dark Ages
Several years ago, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that, if a Carrington-like event occurred today, it could cause $1- to $2-trillion in damages to our civilization's high-tech infrastructure and require four to ten years for complete recovery. Last year, Lloyds put out a study showing that geomagnetic storms could cause upwards of $2.6 trillion in damages across the globe.