SC 2027: The Solar Storm of 2027
In 2012, a coronal mass ejection (CME) originating from a solar storm on the surface of the Sun came into a near miss with Earth, which would have had potentially devastating consequences for electrical systems worldwide, as ionizing radiation would envelop the Earth, blowing out transformers which are critical for our power grid systems to function. However, this was a near miss and catastrophe was avoided. The largest CME to hit Earth in its recorded history was the Carrington Event in 1859, when luckily, electricity had only been a fledgling technology. The storm merely confused compasses, caused telegrams to spark, and resulted in a beautiful aurora as far south as Cuba.
A solar storm the size of the Carrington Event was bound to hit Earth sometime, and the 2012 near-miss, coupled with the apparent efficacy of hacking and sabotaging power grids woke up a lot of governments to the very real threat society would face if the grid systems were lost. The early 2020s were marked by an expanse in detection infrastructure, and also the development of methods to deal with such a perfect storm. These resources were not misplaced, as in 2027 this is exactly what occurred.
NASA’s warning systems went off at 2 AM Houston time (GMT-5) declaring that a CME comparable to the one that caused the Carrington Event would hit Earth in 3 hours. The call was sent out to world governments to prepare for the storm and to power down their grids for the next 24 hours to save their transformers which would be extremely costly and time-consuming to manufacture and replace. Planes also could not fly at this time, and communication services would be down as soon as the satellites powered themselves down in preparation for the storm.
The satellites later fell from the sky as the heated atmosphere expanded and they were pulled down by drag along with the space stations. Not everywhere could shut off its grids on time, and some countries like Cuba and Iran refused to shut off their grids wholesale, fearing American deception. Major cities are mostly protected and crucial services like grocery stores and hospitals can supplement their power access with backup generators for a short period of time. Less electrified nations are less affected. The internet continues to be down.
As the Security Council, you must work together to address the situation and prioritize resource use. The economic fallout is immense (between 2-20 trillion USD), stock markets are non-functional, as is online banking, food spoilage will become rampant if unaddressed, healthcare and communications are limited, and all of this has a great potential to lead to unrest. International systems reliant on grids around the world will take potentially years to repair, as will the creation of a new satellite network.
Issues to consider:
- Reinstatement of communication and navigation systems that are down
- Food distribution issues
- Economic fallout
- Disparity between urban and rural communities, developed and developing nations, countries with stronger/weaker protections, countries that are more/less electrified
- Mitigation of civil unrest