In an attempt to defuse internet hysteria regarding the purported end of the world next year as the Mayan calendar long-count completes, NASA has stated that next year's solar maximum will see solar flares which are "a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem".
That's a very big problem, then. As the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will tell you, Hurricane Katrina alone devastated three major US cities, killing hundreds of people. The Galveston hurricane of 1900 killed thousands.
But it's not all doom! This statement issued today from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in which we are told of hurricane-like solar flares coming, also adds reassuringly:NASA-funded studies have previously warned of a "Space Katrina" flare or coronal mass ejection that would devastate modern civilisation, bringing down power grids and frying satellites en masse. Food would rot, trains wouldn't move, traffic would be gridlocked, phones and the internet wouldn't work, the financial markets would be devastated, planes and ships would be lost and wrecked.
There simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth ... even at their worst, the sun's flares are not physically capable of destroying Earth.But:
You have to take what The Register says with a grain of salt (or potassium iodide if they're talking radiation).[Solar flares are] a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem. One can protect oneself with advance information and proper precautions. During a hurricane watch, a homeowner can stay put ... or he can seal up the house, turn off the electronics and get out of the way....MORE
They are very good at tech stuff, a little weird on natural disasters.
DOOMSDAY 2012 MEGA VOLCANO 'UNLIKELY' - NASA