The sun is a pretty big deal, guys. We all love that huge ball of fire in the sky. In fact, its intense heat and energy are so essential for life that some people actually worship it as a god! Weirdos. But I suppose they have a point. It’s safe to say that laying out on the beach on some tropical island just wouldn’t be the same if we lived in perpetual, cold darkness.
On the other hand, things aren’t all literally sunshine. There are plenty of scientists out there that fear the sun and the havoc that she (yes, she!) can wreak. Here’s a look at 10 ways in which the sun could basically screw us.
1. Making Interplanetary Travel Nearly Impossible
Folks, someday we’re going to have to find other planets to colonize if we want to keep human civilization going. Unfortunately, the sun is going to make that as difficult as possible through its radiation. While the Earth’s magnetosphere protects us from the sun’s deadliest radiation, we’re pretty much on our own once we leave the planet. As a result, humans will find it difficult to travel in space for extended periods of time. Unless we develop the technology to create spacesuits made out of magnetosphere, I guess.
2. Evaporating Our Water Supply
Although this article is intended to paint the sun as a bad guy, the truth is that it is currently classified as a main sequence star, the period of its life when it is stable and even kind-hearted. However, in a billion years (the year 1,000,002,018 to be precise) it will have grown by 10%, making the Earth so hot that our oceans will begin evaporate. Granted, most of us won’t be around by then. But I feel bad for those of you who will.
3. Coronal Mass Ejections
Although this sounds more like a medical condition, it is actually a solar explosion in which a cloud of plasma hurls in any given direction at millions of miles an hour. Although it is unlikely to destroy Earth (yay!) any eruption headed our way would have the potential to massively disrupt our electrical systems and plunge us into the Dark Ages. That would be a serious adjustment for everybody. Except the Amish, I guess.
4. Boiling Our Water Supply
Remember how in #9 we talked about how the sun will evaporate our water supply? Those were good times. It turns out that things will actually get even worse. As more and more water evaporates, it will get trapped in our atmosphere, creating a greenhouse gas effect that will heat our planet to the point where the water will start boiling away. Eventually all the bodies of water will be gone, forcing us to take showers using liquid alternatives such as milk and apple juice. Or even pure liquid soap.
5. Helping the Water Escape Our Atmosphere
Remember how in #7 we…. Okay, you get the point. We’re all about nostalgia around here. Although all the water will be boiled out of the oceans, it will still be floating around in the atmosphere. Until, that is, the sun turns into an angry red giant, at which point the relentless bombardment of solar energy will split water molecules into its hydrogen and oxygen components. The respective elements will then leave our atmosphere and move on to a better place, since at that stage “any place other than Earth” will qualify as “better.”
6. UV Radiation
Thanks to the depletion of the ozone layer as a result of human activity, the sun has been getting its revenge by bombarding our planet with ultraviolet (ultraviolent?!?!) rays. Yes, we all enjoy that brown, crispy, summer tan glow, but at what cost? Well, according to a report published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, skin cancer has been on the rise over the past 30 years.
7. Geomagnetic Storms
Back in 1859 (also known as the Age of the Dinosaurs), the sun got all sassy and decided to rain on our parade in the form of a massive solar storm. The results were so bright that the Northern Lights could be seen from Hawaii! Had modern technology (in particular, electricity) existed back then, we would have been screwed. No Internet to browse anymore. No Kardashians to meet. We’re out of the clear, right? Actually, scientists warn that it will most likely happen again someday. No worries though, I have a plan. We’ll just generate electricity by having hamsters run on little treadmills.
8. Coronal Holes
In a nutshell, coronal holes are these open, unipolar magnetic fields in the sun that allow solar wind to escape and, among other things, create those lights above the North Pole known as Aurora Borealis. Those horrible, no-good, beautiful lights!!! In all seriousness, while coronal holes aren’t going to murder Earth (though they would if they could!), they can cause serious harm to astronauts in space.
9. Solar Flares
Sometimes when the sun is having a bad day, she expresses her anger by burping out an intense burst of radiation. So strong, in fact, that this release of magnetic energy creates some of the largest explosive events in the entire solar system. Time to panic, right? Right! Although NASA insists that a solar flare would never destroy the Earth let’s all just freak out anyway. It should be noted that the flares could potentially fry all those GPS satellites orbiting our planet, something that companies selling paper maps should cheer on.
10. Eating the Earth
Someday the sun will grow out of control and consume the Earth (and the entire solar system!!!) with it. Scientists disagree when this will happen, which presumably leads to a lot of shouting and clipboard-throwing at “When Will the Sun Die” panels. But the main thing is that if you think the sun is just trolling us with those first 9 acts, our fiery destruction is definitely serious business. But as a consolation, the sun will eventually die out too. A victim of its own greed and insatiable thirst for power.