Pick up the rectangular block of magic without which modern human life would almost cease to exist. Yes, I am talking about your mobile phones probably on what you are reading this article on. This invention has millions of lines of code and among these is one called World Magnetic Model (WMM) which helps your phone to navigate.
Recently scientists have called a need to update the WMM this is because the north and south poles of the Earth are shifting. That might be difficult to understand because our entire sense of direction more or less is based off where North and South poles of Earth lie.
However, our biggest reason because of poles shifting isn’t going to be an issue in navigating the world but more catastrophic events such as massive Earthquakes, rapid climate changes and species extinction. This isn’t the first time that such an event; the last time this happened was 780,000 years ago during the Stone Age and brought major changes to the face of the Earth.
A huge concern that scientists have with the shifting magnetic field is the affect from Coronary Mass Ejections (CME). These are ejections that occur on the Sun and are hurtled towards the Earth. However, up till now these were blocked by the Earth’s magnetic field. With poles switching up the magnetic field becomes weaker thus becoming less effective in blocking out these CMEs. What these will lead to are huge holes in the Ozone layer like those over Antarctica this would cause a cascade of chemical reactions and would increase the chances of skin cancer due to increased UV radiation exposure.
Some scientists even speculate that the extinction of Neanderthals was somehow linked to the shifting magnetic poles. This, however, is debatable as some scientists aren’t completely on board with the idea of a species extinction due to pole reversal.
What is for sure though is that technology will definitely be in danger, i.e., damage of satellites, power outages and interruption of radio communications. We will eventually need to find ways to mitigate these damages or even find suitable alternatives for the same. Another fear is that this shifting would put species that depend on the magnetic orientation of Earth for their survival in real danger, such as bees, pigeons, turtles; moreover, there is no consensus among the scientific community as to what would happen to these creatures.
Another uncertainty that looms this process is that of continental shifts. Some scientists fantasize that this potential switch over the next few thousand years will lead to the shifting of tectonic plates which in turn would cause continents to shift from one place to another. Again no one knows for sure whether this would actually happen as this is mostly the imagination of people.
The process of poles switching positions is a process that takes about 1,000 – 10,000 years. Currently this process is occurring due to a growing patch of reverse alignment in the liquid core deep beneath Brazil and South Atlantic. Moreover, given the massive size of the Earth scientist even with the use of sophisticated technology cannot make accurate predictions as to what would happen to Earth and moreover when that will happen. This creates a lot of uncertainty and at the same time also gives us time to figure out whether there is anything we can do to hedge the potential risks.