Scientists warn of $2,000bn solar ‘Katrina’

The sun is waking up from a long quiet spell. Last week it sent out the strongest flare for four years – and scientists are warning that earth should prepare for an intense electromagnetic storm that, in the worst case, could be a “global Katrina” costing the world economy $2,000bn.

Senior officials responsible for policy on solar storms – also known as space weather – in the US, UK and Sweden urged more preparedness at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

“We have to take the issue of space weather seriously,” said Sir John Beddington, UK chief scientist. “The sun is coming out of a quiet period, and our vulnerability has increased since the last solar maximum [around 2000].”

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