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'Space Katrina' Could Test Our Reliance On Technology

Floods, hurricanes, nuclear fallout, bird flu -- they're all dramatized in film and even sometimes enter reality. But now there's something new to worry about: a sudden high-intensity solar radiation storm that could bring a world relying on satellites and electrical grids to its knees. Can your business handle the devastation?
Floods, hurricanes, nuclear fallout, bird flu -- they're all dramatized in film and even sometimes enter reality. But now there's something new to worry about: a sudden high-intensity solar radiation storm that could bring a world relying on satellites and electrical grids to its knees. Can your business handle the devastation?NASA has just released a report stating that in the future -- maybe sooner, maybe later -- we will fall victim to a solar storm more powerful than any experienced so far in the age of high technology.

The report states:


"Open access on the transmission system has fostered the transport of large amounts of energy across the power system in order to maximize the economic benefit of delivering the lowest-cost energy to areas of demand. The magnitude of power transfers has grown, and the risk is that the increased level of transfers, coupled with multiple equipment failures, could worsen the impacts of a storm event."

Because so much of our infrastructure is dependent on power grids, the results of a severe storm could include: "potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in about 12-24 hours; and immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply, and so on."

The impact on satellites would be even more severe, because spacecraft have less shielding from the earth's atmosphere.

While the report mentions technological solutions to many of the possible disaster scenarios, most aren't in place. Disasters that have occurred in recent years such as Hurricanes Ike and Katrina really brought home the importance of preparedness and recovery plans. This recent NASA report brings up the opportunity to go over your business's business-continuity plan -- and if you don't have one, create one!

While another recent report finds that small and midsize businesses will be spending more on security this year -- which is great -- it won't necessarily be enough or in the right places. So in addition to creating a disaster-recovery plan, be sure it's a good one.

Not scared into action yet? Then check out these articles:

And not that it should be the first thing on your mind when your business -- and, possibly, your life -- is at stake, but a good disaster-preparedness plan can even save you money.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer