I'm at a coffee shop in Arlington, Virginia, listening to a group of scientists in dark suits argue about the risky nature of space weather events. How do we convince them that our research is worth funding? one of the men asks.
We could tell them how solar storms and sunspot activity could shut down Wall Street, cause wide-spread power outages and cost the government trillions, a woman answers with a slight laugh. She seems delighted by the prospect. But until that happens, she adds, they won't hear us. Kind of like that asteroid in Russia--no one believed it would happen until it did.
I like the Wall Street shutdown, a man agrees with her. They both laugh and briefly remark on their colleagues on Wall Street. The prospect of an asteroid or weather event taking them out doesn't sound too bad.
Another man describes the risks to satellites, solar panels, GPS, the military, space stations and more. They all seem eager to find the right language to warn the government about the potential problems ahead.
As they rise to leave, a woman seated nearby comments, At least it's not like climate change. They don't have Exxon or the Koch boys funding everyone who will discredit their research.