Solar Storm, Nuclear Apocalypse and The Best Laid Plans

I have had the privilege of knowing author Alexa Wolf since Jimmy Carter was President.  I’d like to afford that privilege to you, gentle reader.

a guest post by Alexa Wolf

Hurricane Sandy as seen from Space Station

Hurricane Sandy as seen from Space Station

So I’m watching TV coverage of post-Hurricane Sandy a week after the storm and up comes an interview between some famous anchor, I forget who, and the head of Con Ed, although on the East Coast it is not Con Ed. It is Something Else Ed.

Famous Anchor is asking Something Else Ed, “Is there any way to protect the grid from disasters like Sandy?” At the time of this interview, there are still a few million people without power.

Something Else Ed smiles and says, “No, it would be too expensive. You’d have to practically gold plate the grid. People simply could not afford to pay for electricity.”

Famous Anchor smiles back and says, mindless as a zombie, never thinking to ask Something Else Ed HOW MUCH is too much, “So if you can’t gold-plate the grid against disasters, what should people do?”

And Something Else Ed smiles some more and says, “People should prepare to survive without electricity for a couple of weeks.”

“People should prepare,” reiterates Famous Anchor, head bobbing, his undead brows furrowed in, presumably, contemplation.

Something Else Ed nods back, and smiles.


B-2 Spirit

B-2 Spirit — official USAF photo

According to MIT-trained engineer Matthew Stein, it would cost about $1 billion to back up – to “gold- plate” – the grid. That’s it – half the price of B-2 bomber or a few days dying and killing in Afghanistan, for which of course there is always enough money. So it’s not even serious money, let alone gold.

Stein says it would take another billion or so to back up the nuclear power plants.

Oh, yeah. Sigh . Nuclear power. We’ll get to that in a minute.



Sandy did not become a worst-case scenario despite the loss of life and property. A worst-case scenario would be the once-in-a-century solar storm that NASA has predicted will arrive in 2013 on or before May.

The solar storm, producing what is called the Carrington Effect, is expected to be strong enough to emit an EM pulse that will burn up most or all satellites and fry most if not all of the electric grids, leaving us without power for six months to a year, if not forever.

For how will workers restore the grid?

Without satellites there can be no communication via cell phones or the Internet. Without the grids there will be no communication by land lines. If some method of communication is established some other way, how will the workers get where they need to be? There will be no way to travel to the necessary places to set up whatever can be set up to restore the grids because gas pumps run on electricity so there’ll be no way to get gas once whatever one has stored is gone.

Moreover, it requires electricity to make the parts that will restore the grids. If they are not already made and in place, how would you make and replace them?

In 1989 a solar flare hit Canada. Quebec went dark. Afterwards, Canada installed some backup systems.


Recently, the sun loosed four larger, really massive solar flares. Had they been on Earth’s trajectory, our satellites and grids would be gone. Earth is currently moving into that fatal trajectory.

The people must be prepared, says Something Else Ed.

True. If the power companies do not “prepare”, it’s all ours.

But how do we prepare?

We’ve watched the Sandy victims struggling through and after the storm. Their experience will only be our starting place because the power for everyone will be gone and not come back.


Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea

Like the power company workers, we too will have no communication, no travel, no way to get to relatives or to leave town or even to reach hospitals.

Or receive help from a hospital if you can get there. We watched everyone being evacuated from the major hospital in New York when their generator didn’t work. But when there is no power, there will be no evacuation.

We’ll have no refrigeration. Fresh food will run out, so will cans. Your cans, any cans. Stores no longer keep them in stock. And neither FEMA nor any private organization will be able to ship in emergency food because of the gas pumps not working.

Food riots have been predicted.

There’ll be no running water – no faucets working, no toilets flushing. No water delivery.

dead fish0

Nights will be black without light. Unable to see, the elderly will fall more frequently, no medical help will be available for them or anyone else, and gangs and other criminals will roam at will in the unmitigated darkness.

Law and order will fail without communication, lights or vehicles. There will be no way to put out fires. There will be no garbage pickup.

A couple of weeks after the interview between Famous Anchor and Something Else Ed, I heard on the radio a discussion between Matthew Stein and Gary Null about how to prepare for the solar superstorm – what to do, what to get. As their discussion proceeded, I realized that three choices lie before us.

First, forget about preparation. Second, prepare as much as you can. Or, third, bang on the doors of Congress and the White House and demand they either use our tax dollars to back up the grids and nuclear power plants and reinforce the satellites or force the power companies to do so.


solar flare thumbnail click for larger

If you choose to prepare for the solar storm, Null and Stein recommended that you start by taking your living quarters off the grid by installing solar panels.

Null then suggests that you get blackout blinds so that others cannot see the light. Lighting without grid support might suggest to the nefarious stranger, or neighbor, that you possess further survival necessities. This possibility might stimulate the desire, in those who did not store anything, to try to get in and take yours, although I suspect that, if you have placed solar panels on your house, that might be kind of a giveaway.

If you cannot afford solar panels, Null suggests about the only thing I myself can afford of all his suggestions: solar lights for the yard which can be recharged in each day’s sunlight, brought inside at night and used indefinitely as flashlights and house lights.

Null and Stein further suggest you store gallons and gallons of water along with a top of the line water filter so that you can obtain and purify water from your nearby lakes and streams (ha ha for urban areas), and store as much gas as possible for those trips.

For food Gary Null thinks the best option is to buy several cases of all the various super foods that will cover all of your nutritional needs such as powdered fruit, powdered berries, powdered greens, powdered vegetables, powdered grains, powdered seeds and so on. Unopened, these jars will keep the contents fresh for a few years.

Further, stock pounds and pounds of dried beans, grains and so on to go with the diesel stove you will also purchase. Stockpile gallons of diesel for your stove.

Store endless rolls of toilet paper.

Purchase a machine that makes colloidal silver from your purified water, which will take care of your antibiotic and antiviral needs.

Get one of those old wash boards because you’re going to be doing a lot of washing clothes by hand. This thought alone should send you stampeding toward Congress and the White House, demanding the power companies “gold-plate” the grids for a pitiful billion dollars – and put out another billion for the nuclear power plants.

Speaking of which, Null also recommends you buy a radiation suit and boots; Stein agrees.

To me this is where we see the black hole in their entire strategy: nuclear apocalypse.



Nuclear power plants require billions of gallons of coolant water flowing over their cores so that they do not melt into the “China syndrome,” liquefying from the heat and falling through the ground, theoretically, all the way to China. The pools of spent fuel rods also require these millions and billions of gallons of constantly flowing cool water so that they do not overheat and explode with a massive release of radiation.

Unfortunately, the coolant water is controlled by the grids which will no longer be able to turn on the flowing water.

If there is enough warning, some of the nuclear plants may be able to shut down in time to prevent core meltdowns. But without an internal backup system in the nuclear plants themselves, those spent fuel rods will still blow up.

Gary Null says that most people in the United States live within 50 miles of a nuclear power plant. Once the EM pulse knocks out the grids, Null recommends you get at least 200 miles from the nearest plant. So in advance of the storm, for those who can afford it, you should purchase land at least 200 miles from the nearest nuclear plant, perhaps in cooperation with other people.

You will keep your food there. You also store seeds so you can grow fresh food.

Everyone on the cooperative has some gift and they will contribute that gift to the benefit of the group.

In order to get there, keep a collapsible bike handy for everyone in your family so that you all can leave town fast and speed off to this magical designation. For the highways and roads will be clogged with cars that will have run out of fuel. All of you should have a backpack stuffed to the nines with your water filter, some jars of superfoods and some colloidal silver in case you get stuck on the road for a while.

nuclear-power in asia AFP

So there you’ll be, you and your family, pedaling away in your radiation suits with your giant backpacks, weaving between the motionless cars and the people in them and those who have begun walking, all of whom will just let your little group tool along unmolested.

If you must remain where you currently live, do your business and so on, you would keep the cases of superfoods, the water filter, the colloidal silver machine, diesel cooking stove and so on on hand, also storing as much water as you can as well as diesel for the stove.

You must also keep warm blankets and clothes for the winter. But neither Null nor Stein suggested anything for you if you live where the summer temperature soars into the hundreds for two or three months out of the year. I listened intently for how to survive such deadly heat. Where I live the temperature hits 115 degrees a few weeks each summer; one day this past summer it reached 120 degrees. But there was a kind of uncomfortable-sounding pause in their discussion and then they went on to the next thing.


I guess in some cases you could find a watering hole in which to cool off. Near me, there is a privately owned lake. It is walking distance, if you can walk. (I’m on crutches, pain with each glacially slow step, and my electric wheelchair would avail nothing with no electricity), or biking distance, if you can bike.

You could go and jump in that lake. You might pick up bacteria or parasites, but you’ll have your colloidal silver to help you get rid of them. However, your colloidal silver machine will not help much if the wealthy owners in the lovely homes surrounding their beautiful lake shoot you.

Null and Stein continued, offering reams of advice on surviving without power. But if the nuclear power plants are not backed up, it seems to me, all these preparations become worthless.



Don’t get me wrong. I love Gary Null. I listen to his programs all the time. It was from him I learned about the solar storm and have gotten most of my information about it. I’ve emailed other progressive talk show hosts about our imminent demise and no one has answered. None of them have otherwise brought up the solar storm, so far as I know. Only, oddly, Fox News has actually addressed it when they interviewed physicist Michio Kaku about it.

But it seems to me Null and Stein would have spent their time better by stirring people to protest and occupy. Put the solar storm in the national dialogue as the Occupy movement did with the wealth disparity. Alert the people of our country to what faces us, what can still technologically be done, who won’t do it – and how to make them do it.

Chernobyl killed millions around the world with cancer. Fukushima is killing the people of Japan and irradiating the Pacific to the point that you wouldn’t dare eat anything from that ocean anymore. The West Coast of the U.S has been hit with radiation from which cancers will result.

second explosion Monday

Fukishima second explosion

Although Fukishima continues to spew radiation into the air, ground, local drinking water and the ocean, we are no longer hearing anything about Fukushima in corporate media. Silence even on the fact that various of the six reactors at the plant are having unexplained explosions and fires, three of the reactors have (according to Michio Kaku) melted and Reactor Number Four is on the verge of collapse.

Most scientists believe that if it does collapse, it will cause an explosion that will trigger explosions in the other five reactors. The radiation released by these six explosions will be enough, it is believed, to irradiate and kill almost everything currently alive in the Northern Hemisphere.

(The equator provides a kind of barrier that will prevent most radiation from crossing into the Southern hemisphere.)

Fukishima is just a single nuclear power plant. There are 104 nuclear plants in the United States and about 400 around the world. Most are in the Northern Hemisphere. If even only half melt down or half the spent fuel rods blow up, forget the 200 miles from your local nuke plant. Buy land in Bolivia (which, as urban myth relates, the Bushes have done). If there is enough warning, you might be able to get out of Dodge before the solar EM pulse grounds all planes and terminates air traffic control.

Or perhaps it might be more expedient to demand that Congress force the power companies to back up their grids and nuclear plants rather than go through all that survival strategy and, in the end, be done in by radiation sickness and cancer anyway.

nuke ad

Contemporary nuclear industry “warm & fuzzy” ad

Lazy soul that I am, even if they backed up the nuclear plants but not the grids, I just can’t see how all that tedious and expensive survival preparation is better than forcing the power companies to back up their systems and allow us to remain in the current century. “Life as we know it,” as they say in Star Trek.

Actually, I wouldn’t even survive the power shutdown for two weeks. I have a collapsed femur, I can’t walk without the crutches, I can’t lean over to pump water from a container even if I could afford the water, there is no way I could get to a lake or river even if I could afford the water filter, I couldn’t get myself into a radiation suit without help even if I could afford one, and I bought one jar of Gary Null’s excellent superfood Power Berry Blast and now don’t have enough money for regular food for the rest of the month. And so on.

So you can understand my bias, and bewilderment.

What lunacy drives the media to ignore the approaching solar storm or send zombies to interview the power company heads, or Eds, about backing up their systems to protect against worst-case disasters?

And the power companies – $2 billion is NOTHING! How many hundreds of billions of dollars do they net each year? Do they even pay taxes on their profits? How stupid and greedy do they have to be to resist this meager, measly, puny amount to save us all from annihilation? Will $2 billion bite into their bonuses? I mean, WHAT is this pathological avarice contaminating most of the wealthiest Americans to the point of suicide?

If Stein is wrong and the cost is higher, doncha kinda think it might be worth it?


Life is short. And take my word for it, once you reach sixty-five, it gets shorter every year. Must we make it even shorter than necessary?

NASA and other scientists testified before Congress about the solar storm. Afterwards, the House voted unanimously to do something. But the Senate killed the bill. I can’t find the details online any more but from what I remember of my first search, the Senate wanted the power companies to pay the bill and the power companies wanted the government to pay so no one will pay the bill.

According to the guy who took my call at my congresswoman’s office, and researched after I explained my concerns, some people in the U.S. are now talking with some people in Britain about what to do, and both countries are studying the sun. Yak, yak, yak.

It also seems the Federal government has issued a warning alert to local governments and suggested they get ready. Have you heard anything about this?

KOMA's 50,000 Watt transmitter

Meanwhile, nothing is being built or put in place to protect the grids.

According to my congresswoman’s representative, the power companies plan to deal with a Carrington- size solar flare with rolling blackouts.

So the EM pulse would fry the grids that are still on and, from what I’ve read, even if a grid is off, it would still attract the EM particles and be destroyed.

In fact, the power companies needed to have built three or four backup transformers for all those in use, but it’s too late for that now. It takes about a year to build a transformer and the solar storm will be here by May.

However, according to one website, they can still install a blocking device for the transformers.

They could as well have built giant surge suppressors to back up the grids. Some people think there is still be time for that now, although I’ve also read that these surge suppressors require one to three years to build.

One website says the only thing that will save the grids is to put them in a Faraday Cage (whatever that is); another site says the Faraday Cage won’t work.

There’s at least one website with a list of smaller things that can be done in time; I’d like to know what Canada did after the flare hit Quebec.

Obviously, Mathew Stein believes the grid can still be protected.

I’m just a pedestrian on the Technological Highway. But it’s pretty clear that, if money comes, a concerted effort by a bevy of engineers might be necessary to figure out how to shield the grids and ourselves.

It’s also clear that, if we do have time, that time is short. The solar flare might arrive as early as January.


Major X1.1 Class Solar Flare July 6, 2012

In myths and fairy tales, the hero or heroine often has just one moment in which to do the necessary thing. The girl escapes the evil god in the upper realms by climbing down a spider web. She must keep her eyes closed until just before she reaches the bottom of the web. Then she must open her eyes and step onto the earth. She cannot open her eyes too early or too late or she will turn into a spider.

She is too late.

We all hold our breath when we see this moment in our own myths. “Now! Now! Now!” cries the young Captain Kirk in the latest Star Trek venture as he and Sulu, their parachutes useless, plummet toward the ground. Inches from the lethal crash, they are beamed back to their ship: “in the nick of time.”

Mythologist Joseph Campbell said this moment symbolizes the moment of life.

Jungian Marie-Louise von Franz says this moment can represent the moment of sanity, in the midst of the madness and chaos of life, in which your vision clears and the right action will or will not be taken and everything will be saved or lost.

This is our moment.

And so I say, Act! Now!

I don’t want to die just yet.



Occupy! I cry out in blithering desperation. Call your local congressperson, your senators, the White House, the networks, your local TV and radio stations!

Alert your friends and neighbors to the peril! Collect those who can grasp the magnitude of the threat and visit your local media – get that storm into the public dialogue! Get the population moving. Meet, the lot of you, with your congressional representatives and demand they force the power companies to backup the power systems – or just pay for it from our taxes!

If we get our house in order, we might even be able to work with other countries, helping to back up the other 300 nuclear power plants out there and the grids that have to be reinforced to protect those plants and the pools of spent fuel rods within them. (Or, more accurately, sitting on top of them or sitting outside of them – another story.)

Would you really leave our survival in the hands of the power companies? Today is December 5, more than a month after Sandy. Thirty thousand people are still without power.

sandy aftermath breezy-point

Sandy Aftermath: Breezy Point

Taking collective charge might even start a trend, a momentum of intelligent action that will help us avert the absolute destruction of human life and the majority of species alive today resulting from climate change, following on the heels of the solar storm…

On the other hand, you folks – as the President might put it; the President likes “folks” – you folks out there in Homeland Security, you don’t have to come after me, strip me of my citizenship and take me off somewhere to be tortured or imprisoned.

I know that I am dissing nuclear power and suggesting cutting into the profits of the power company CEOs and that, if I should be successful at all in persuading others to act, according to the Patriot Act, my behavior would designate me a terrorist (even though, I cannot help but point out, protecting the grids from catastrophe is actually a national security issue that you should be fixing).

atomic test

However, not to fear.

Even among those of my own friends who researched the solar storm after I described it, and who subsequently began to collect food, water and so on, not one of them has picked up a phone and called their congressperson, senators, the White House, or any news outlet, let alone visited.

“Why not?” I ask, as their bags of dried beans pile up and they seek a discreet place to park their new port-a-potty. “Just make one five minute phone call!” Actually, it takes ten or fifteen minutes to convince whoever gets the call that you, with your end-of-the-world scenario, have solid facts and are not a raving nutcase. But my friends can find out for themselves.

But they won’t.

Instead, falling right in line, they answer with a fatalistic shrug. “Why bother? They won’t do anything”; behaving as if they themselves have no power even before the civilization-ending solar flare hits.

Alexa Wolf has published stories in the L.A. WEEKLY, including a cover story. Her work has also appeared in The New York Native, the C.G Jung Journal and elsewhere. She is the author of  My Mother’s House, A Memoir, which received glowing reviews, and is working on a multi-volume fantasy action adventure. She has appeared on OPRAH! a Dan Rather special, The Today Show and elsewhere. Non-writing creative endeavors consist primarily of designing and making jewelry. She has recently put up a shop at under the shop name alexawolfonline.
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14 responses to “Solar Storm, Nuclear Apocalypse and The Best Laid Plans

  1. Pingback: Solar Storm, Nuclear Apocalypse and The Best Laid Plans | his … | Solar Flare 2012

  2. Wow, the Carrington Effect is a real cause of concern. How would we operate without the Internet? EVERYTHING depends on the Internet these days (in my world at least). Our infrastructure needs to be addressed to prepare for disasters – like burying cables. Forget the jets and invest in our ability to communicate.

  3. Alexa,

    Wow, what a detailed reply and terrific observations! My original article, “400 Chernobyls”, in its many variations (see link: . There are also versions on Alternet, Truthout, and Huffington Post, plus a print version in Nexus Magazine), focused on the problem and large scale solutions plus a quick pitch at the end for political, community, and personal action. I planned on spending one week writing this article, but ended up spending about 6 weeks on it. Just too important to do a half-ass job. I started writing the article hoping things were better than I had feared, but found they were actually worse. Printed out a 14″ tall stack of documents, many of which are in the extensive article bibliography.

    The inspiration to write 400 Chernobyls came the week after the Fukushima tsunami, when a radio show listener connected the dots between what I was saying about the official cause of the Fukushima melt down (loss of cooling system power when the tsunami took out the backup generators) and a later conversation on the potential for extended widespread grid collapse after a solar storm. Two weeks before Fukushima, I had finished writing the first draft for the chapter on solar storms and EMP in my newest book, “When Disaster Strikes”. Three days before Fuklushima I finished the draft on the final chapter, “The Unthinkable: Surviving a Nuclear Catastrophe”. However, it took a random caller on a radio show to urge me to connect the dots between the two events.

    I am a bit younger than yourself, and probably in no better financial situation–quite possibly worse. You do what you can. What more can you do?


  4. Gary Lawrence

    Though I don’t dispute the ramifications of a Carrington type event, I have been unable to verify through google that NASA is predicting such event on or before May 2013. When making such assertions, please provide a link. I read Alexa Wolf’s article twice to see if I had missed it and have read Matthew Stein’s article as well.

    • As far as I know, there is no way to accurately predict solar storms. A few months ago, a scientific study (perhaps NASA sponsored, but I do not recall) predicted a 12% chance for a Carrington Event sized storm within the next ten years, which means statistically we have a 1 in 8 chance for a game-over sized geomagnetic storm (game over unless we prepare ahead of time).

      Not very good odds. I, for one, would not board a plane if I was told, “Don’t worry, there is only a one in 8 chance that this plane will crash, killing most of the people on board.” There are a few scientists, more on fringe rather than the main stream, that are focusing on the fact that we are entering a probably prolonged period (perhaps for the next several thousand years?) of increased galactic waves of heightened levels of cosmic rays and charged particles, that may cause increasing geophysical activity in both the sun and the earth, quite possibly increasing the odds for a Carrington or worse size event to occur. I am not an astrophysicist, so I cannot comment on the probability that this is the case.

      It is really just a crap shot, with not very good odds, and no one knows when we will get snake eyes….

  5. Don’t have time to check this out in detail, but you might want to Google: “Award winning astrophysicist Alexei Dmitriev says our solar system is entering an interstellar energy cloud that will soon bring global catastrophe.”

  6. First, to continue Mat Stein’s analogy, would YOU get on that plane with a one-in-eight chance of dropping out of the sky? If so, how many times? What if you have to fly frequently? Eventually, the odds will go against you.

    Let’s say the time frame for the solar storm with a flare producing the Carrington Effect is not predicted as I believed. Maybe we even manage to dodge the bullet between next January and May. Astrophysicists appear to be unanimous in their prediction that such a solar flare WILL strike. It’s just a matter of time, and not time in the distant future. The consequences will still be as described if we are not prepared.

    So why not prepare now for whenever the flare comes? If you wait till the plane is dropping out of the sky, it’s too late to return your ticket.

    I will be back later with more info, including some quotes and links.

  7. gary,

    it was from gary null that i heard, and quoted, the prediction dates. i have left an email message for mr. null, asking whether i misheard him and, if not, could he please send a link with a direct quote from nasa on the dates. if and when i hear back, i will post his reply.

    what i have found at this point is that the current solar cycle will peak in may, 2013; that the current activity of the sun parallels the period during which the Carrington Effect occurred in 1859; and that a solar flare of that strength is inevitable, one scientist thinks within two years, another, ten years and so on. the point is, shielding the grid and, nuclear plants, and reinforcing the satellites, will still make the difference between survival and nuclear apocalypse.

    • The scientific paper placing the probability at approximately 12% for a Carrington magnitude space weather event happening sometime in the next ten years is “On the Probability if Occurrence of Extreme Space Weather Events” by Pete Riley. This scientific paper was published in ” Space Weather: The International Journal of Research and Applications” Vol. 10, S02012. It was reported online in Wired Magazine on 2/29/12 and the NY Daily News on the same date.

      • As Mr. Spock would say – fascinating! Is there anything more recent and/or an alternate prediction of equal scientific weight with a different timeline? it would be VERY nice to believe we might have a little more time to persuade those in power to use it with foresight for a change.

        Prometheus was the Greek god of foresight. His brother, Epimetheus, was the god of hindsight. All in favor of Prometheus say, “Ay!”

        • It is simply a crap shot, and when we get “snake eyes” we lose, unless, of course, our government has spent that billion or two dollars it will take to protect the grid from catastrophic collapse. We are coming up on a solar maximum in early 2013, which means we have a higher probability of severe space weather than during solar minimums (the sun flips its magnetic poles every 11 years, and when this happens it is a so-called “solar maximum”). Anyone who claims to know when the next Carrington Event is to occur, is claiming special knowledge of future events, such as a Mayan Calendar kind of prediction, so unless they have a great track record at making future predictions, I would not pay them much attention. That being said, it is a guaranteed thing that our planet will experience an extreme geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) in the not-to-distant future. It is not a question of “if” but “when”. It has been 92 years since the last one, and it was only 60 before that to the Carrington Event, for an average of about 75 year spacing for the last two extreme GMD’s. From ice core sampling it appears that these events strike our planet roughly on an average of every 75-100 years, so we are basically due for the next one. Could be next week, or it could be in another 100 years. Like I said, it is a crap shot, and statistically speaking we are roughly due for the next one….

      • well, i guess that’s that! thanks for the help with this, mat. i want to be accurate and really appreciate your assistance – depressing as it is.

        i hope some of the readers will act. we need that push in the places of power. as british space weather scientist, michael hapgood, says, in probably the understatement of our current civilization, “it’s difficult to educate policy-makers.”

  8. Gary Lawrence

    I appreciate all the follow-up on my questioning a specific prediction by NASA. It was my understanding from everything I had read that a Carrington type event will occur at some point, maybe this solar maximum or another future one, but it will occur. I agree with Matthew that it is a crap shoot when. Everything else in Alexa’s post is spot on. Hoping for the best. Thank you both.