Had the 2012 storm also hit Earth, or were similar to do so in the future, scientists have calculated that the impact would have been two times worse than the Hydro-Québec power failure — and society may well have taken years to recover, with lasting damage to both infrastructure and the global economy.
Dr Aspinall said: “With our near total reliance on digital communications, this time the effect would be much worse.
“No electricity means no computers, no navigation. Planes would be grounded, satellites disabled, and mobile phones useless.
“A prolonged power outage could even lead to a breakdown in the food supply chain with potential civil unrest.
“We can’t stop space weather events happening but if we know when they are coming, we can prepare vulnerable sectors and help ensure that events of this kind are safely managed.”
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