It was in 1997 that I first started to realise that sometimes experts get it badly wrong.

That was the year the scientific community scared us half to death all by telling us that Mad Cow Disease had the “potential to infect 10 million Britons”. Of course, it didn’t.

Then the science-based hysteria kicked in again during the SARS outbreak of 2003 – remember that? – when one expert informed the Media that the outbreak meant a “25% chance of killing tens of millions.” It didn’t. In fact, not one single Briton died.

Then, in 2006, the science community informed us that AvianFlu “will be the first pandemic of the 21st century.” And the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that “one in four Britons could die.” We didn’t.

Mind you, a dead swan found in a harbor in Fife.

Then there was Swine Flu when a member of the World Health Organisation task force declared that 40 per cent of people in the UK could be infected within the next six months if the country was hit by a pandemic. It wasn’t, and we weren’t.

Yup; scientists love End of the World stories. Though they are always careful to couch their prophecies of doom in words such as “if” and “might” and “could”.

Well, now we have another. And if we discount the prophecy of the Maya Indians that the world is going to end in 2012, this one is really serious. Or it could be.

According to NASA, no less, our little blue planet is due to get clobbered by a barrage of solar flares in 2013. Now, what makes this really interesting is that this is something that happens on a regular basis but we’ve never noticed it before. According to the experts we’ll notice it this time though, because it has the potential to wipe out all the super-duper technological micro-chip technology on which we all rely so heavily.

Solar flares will generate a massive shift in magnetic activity. The result is that computer systems around the world will fail, resulting in blackouts, the loss of financial and medical records, along with the destruction of television stations, web sites, communication systems – the lot.

And one Oxford-based professor told reporters that “It’s not scaremongering.”

Do you want MY prediction? I can confidently predict that absolutely nothing will happen. Except one thing… several companies will make huge profits selling some sort of device to combat such carnage, rather like when the Millennium Bug that was supposed to bring the world to its knees – but didn’t.

It’s a win-win for them. If nothing happens to your computer, then their device worked. If it doesn’t work, the telephone system will be out of commission so you won’t be able to contact them for a refund.

Still, we all enjoy a jolly good panic from time to time – and on this occasion we can use the solar flares of 2013 as an excuse. It sounds like a good one!

Drew McAdam


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