The basis of our economic system depends on the idea that energy supplies are always stable, and always will be. Reality periodically reminds us that our economy is entirely dependent on cheap and abundant energy; a harsh lesson now evident, as to how much we Americans depend on Middle Eastern despots. Indeed, it offends the finer senses to acknowledge that the supposed beacon of democratic light is fired by Saudi Arabian monarchy, but there it is. No use lamenting it. It is. Moving on.
Our assumptions toward stable energies extend as far as the sun, 93 million miles away: the sun is, it was, it always will be. Some part of us, remembering something from elementary school, agrees that billions of years from now the sun will expand, eventually swallowing the Earth. Or something like that. It is irrelevant. We will all be long dead by then. Live the life you lead. The sun matters, but not really.
Oh, but living in this accelerating age can be unsettling. As it turns out, the sun is not stable at all. It is a roiling mass of superheated liquid and gas that periodically belches radiation outward into the heliosphere, sometimes in a direct line with the planets. We got hammered with just such an outburst recently. Known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), this solar wind rushes out, slamming into the planet's magnetosphere at up to speeds of 3000 km/sec. The immense energy contained in these CMEs funnels to the poles and into the Earth and atmosphere. In 1859, a CME known as the "Carrington Event", turned the sky in the middle of the night a bright blood red, as far south as Cuba. Telegraph operations around the world went haywire, to the point of writing incomprehensible messages without human intervention. There was so much electricity in the air a telegraph machine could be "unplugged" and messages could still be sent.
That event was four times stronger than anything we have seen since the advent of the space age. As dependent as we are on electronic everything, it doesn't stretch the imagination much, to recognize how vulnerable our infrastructure has become to such a mass infusion of energy. In fact, because of the efficiency of sending mass amounts of electricity over long distances on the grid, we have actually made the grid increasingly more vulnerable to such events. An excellent reminder, and one we hopefully will not have to learn the hard way, that the free-market does not always lead in a good direction. Comparing our modern information infrastructure with the intervention of a CME like that of the Carrington Event, the National Academy of Science stated in 2008 that an historically large but perfectly plausible solar storm could damage the power grid, with costs exceeding $1 Trillion to $2 Trillion in the first year, with a 4-10 year period of repair. It's no stretch to say that that would be the end of the United States as we know it.
We are entering into the peak of the eleven year, solar sunspot cycle. We are likely to see more upheaval on the sun, just as we saw a recent, extraordinary solar flare not long after last weeks CME. This would not be unusual, in the grand scheme of the sun and the heliosphere, but for two factors: one, that it may be the heliosphere has entered a highly energetic, interstellar portion of the galaxy, on its elliptical revolution around the center, which is feeding energy into the Heliosphere and all the bodies in it; and two, that in less than two years, the Earth, the Sun and the center of the Galaxy will be in alignment, for the first time in 26,000 years.
It begins to feel like a key fitting into a lock and slowly turning. What will be revealed? What energies emanating from the center of the galaxy will be amplified by the sun, and what affect will that have on life? Honestly, I'm hoping for a kind of divine intervention. By that I mean, a transformation of all life as we know it, at the cellular level, at the level of DNA, spontaneously, over a short period of time. An increased awareness of the grand multiplicity of dimensions. A Great Awakening.
I could be wrong. If I am, and there is no Great Awakening, if there is no lock and no key, and all this synchronicity is just fantastical connective imagining, and we slip through the end of 2012 as event-less as we did Y2K, then I expect everything will continue as it is, until we have consumed ourselves out of house and home, facing another 500, or a 1,000, or 10,000 years of tyranny and violence, on a planet we have made increasingly less hospitable, where no generation can expect to have it any better than the last.
I don't believe that is our fate. There is more to this existence than we comprehend, as mere humans. I no longer believe in apocalypse. I believe in Awakening, though I suspect, the sun is going to make it seem, in the next two years, like apocalypse, to those who have closed themselves off to the divine, who default to violence in times of stress, stress exacerbated by the bursting of the illusion of stability, and ever increasing economic progress.