Here comes the sun

Jason Ford

News Editor

This week’s Briefing feels as if it should be accompanied with the kind of voice-over normally associated with trailers for Hollywood disaster movies.

This is due to the fact that many experts believe the world’s electricity grids are at threat from natural events occurring in space as well as from those with malicious intent back here on Earth.

Taking place in London today is the first Electric Infrastructure Security Summit (EISS) meeting that will convene to discuss severe geomagnetic storm and EMP threats to vital infrastructures. 

EISS cites a US National Academy of Sciences study, which says severe, ’century-class’ solar flares have occurred regularly in the past, and will continue in the future.

Thus, if key infrastructures are not hardened, the next big flare could have world-wide, catastrophic impact.

EISS argues that national infrastructures have become more automated and that these are dependant on computer control networks, fully integrated with the electric grid. Little, however, has been done to address vulnerability to potentially catastrophic risks. 

Based on new information about the scope of severe natural threats and new concerns about vulnerability to potential malicious threats, EISS says it has become clear that addressing these issues will be essential to the continued health and viability of nations.

Sticking with energy and news that the 9th UK Conference on Wind Engineering is being held at the Wills Hall Conference Centre in Bristol between September 20-22.

Hosted by Bristol University in association with Arup, the event will explore and discuss developments, projects and techniques applied to the field of wind engineering.

One of the technical sessions taking place at the event asks: ‘UK wind patterns and climate change – does anyone know the future?’

A good place to ask that question might be in Germany where the World Student Environmental Summit (WSES) is taking place this week.

WSES delegates are meeting at the University of Tuebingen, Germany to discuss – and recommend solutions to – what they believe are the most urgent environmental issues facing the planet.

Part of the official action week of the UN International Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, students in environmental sustainability from 30 countries will develop their solutions for policy-makers and universities worldwide.

The students gathering in Germany might be chuffed to hear that Wednesday marks World Carfree Day. Organised by the World Carfree Network, the annual event aims to help ‘create permanent change to benefit pedestrians, cyclists, and other people who do not drive cars.’

Tell that to the SMMT, who this week publish the UK’s monthly automotive production figures. The last report showed a fall of 17.5 per cent.