What Would Happen to Us After a Solar Flare?
Last night I watched one of Apple's latest movies, Finch and I can't stop thinking about it. It's about two hours long, yet it only stars one actor, a dog, and a robot. I'm sure Tom Hanks probably costs a lot of money and that may be why Apple didn't add any other human actors — but that's not the reason I've been so lost in thought.
It's the background plot that really got my brain working. The main story centers around Finch Weinberg, one of the few survivors of a solar event that turned the Earth into an uninhabitable wasteland. Since he is dying of an unknown illness, he builds an AI robot to protect his beloved dog when he is gone. As they venture into the American West, he teaches the robot valuable lessons about life, happiness, and trust. It's most definitely a sweet story to warm the heart.
But, you see, it's not the solar flare itself that suddenly wipes out humanity — although it does raise average daily temperatures to about 150˚F and cause extremely high levels of UV radiation.
What ultimately leads to the demise of modern civilization are humans themselves, who seem to activate self-destruct mode at the first glimpse of anarchy.
A solar flare isn't as apocalyptic as it sounds. Occasionally, the sun bursts some pent-up energy, but the Earth's powerful magnetic field protects us from it. In fact, the beautiful aurora lights that shine in the poles are only possible thanks to these clouds of plasma.
Sometimes, though, the sun overpowers the planet's defenses, radically changing the Earth's magnetic field and creating currents in the sky and on the ground. But this doesn't mean humanity is doomed. What could happen, though, is that a solar flare could suddenly fry our power grids, and that's the greatest cause for alarm.
We don't think about it often, but our existence as a species hinges on our ability to communicate with each other and power society. Cell towers, power lines, and communication grids are the fabric of the global economy and of our lives. They're what allow us to have access to food, water, and medication. All of it could be gone in a flash, and that shows us just how fragile our lives are.
Communication networks are what allow us to reach each other, locate emergency services, and help one another. It’s what drives logistics and supply lines and makes the world go round.
What would become of our world if it suddenly lost its power lines? In this globalized society of ours, we are more connected than we realize, but we often forget about such a delicate fact about our species. We no longer value random acts of caring and lose touch with the knowledge that we are all members of a community, of the environment, of this planet.
Humanity may ooze robustness and strength, but even though we’re elusively invincible, sitting atop the food chain, the truth is that we are extremely vulnerable. That’s a valuable realization. We are all interconnected, and we need each other as much as ever. Despite advances in technology, the spread of globalization, and our preference for virtual communication, we all rely on each other.
Perhaps that’s why we are here. To embrace how delicate life is, and live every moment as intensely as possible, embracing our interconnectivity and helping one another, seeking to truly live out what it means to be human.