It’s no secret. The Earth’s magnetic field has been weakening at an alarming rate – 10 times faster than in previous years. Scientists believe that the accelerating change in the magnetic field may indicate the Earth’s magnetic poles are about to flip. Would such a change be a mundane event, as many scientists predict, or disastrous to human civilization?
The magnetic poles flip every few hundred thousand years (the last change occurred during the Stone Age) and are typically preceded by a gradual weakening of the magnetic field surrounding the Earth. Since the magnetic field protects Earth from incoming cosmic radiation and solar winds, some believe a weakening magnetic field can trigger a profound impact on the inhabitants of Earth. Although scientists predict the next flip in about 2,000 years, presently the magnetic field is dwindling by about 5 percent each decade indicating the field may be switching faster, or sooner, than expected.
It’s not a sudden flip, but a slow process, during which the field strength becomes weak before building up strength in the opposite direction. Scientists say the weak in-between phase will be roughest for humans. For instance, more particles from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will be allowed to pass through the magnetic field bombarding the Earth with electronics-damaging rays. As a result, computer-controlled machines may be damaged and communications will be disrupted. If protections are not put into place in time, technology driven industries (e.g. banking, food delivery systems, and utilities) could be impacted.
Unfortunately, the effect may be magnified by gaping holes in the Ozone and the weaker field will most certainly introduce new ozone holes, allowing more of the Sun’s harmful rays to pass through. This scenario may have already played out on Mars millions of years ago. Many scientists believe a dying magnetic field on Mars extinguished any possibility of life on the planet. With the field dying away, the solar wind was then able to strip the atmosphere away leaving a planet totally exposed to cosmic radiation. But even if the Earth’s atmosphere is unharmed, a weakened Ozone layer will likely result in increased cancer rates and other detrimental health issues. Scientists point out that the last pole reversal on Earth occurred as the Neanderthals disappeared from our planet (although they quickly dismiss the likelihood that the pole reversal triggered their demise, they can offer no other viable explanation for their disappearance).
Humans won’t be the only species directly impacted by a reversal in the magnetic field. Many animals (e.g. salmon, turtles, whales, pigeons) rely on geomagnetism for navigation and scientists are unsure how a pole reversal will impact them. What they do know, is that some animal species dependent upon geomagnetic navigation are critical components of our ecosystem. Most notably, bees and bacteria will likely be impacted by a pole flip. Geomagnetic specialist Ciaran Beggan told reporters in 2012:
“Although electricity grids and GPS systems would be more vulnerable, we are not really sure how all the complex species that are linked together would react.”
So far, despite a lot of uncertainty, a shift in the magnetic field does not look like a zombie-apocalypse triggering event. Uncomfortable maybe, but not species threatening. But wait. Two-time Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Robert Becker studied the impact of intense solar activity on humans and drew a frightening conclusion. According to Dr. Becker, intense solar activity leads directly to psychotic outbreaks and mass insanity. Becker died in 2008 with a dire warning to the world about the approaching years of 2014 and beyond. Maybe a zombie apocalypse is not so far-fetched after all.