Will a shift of magnetic poles really throw Earth into the dark ages? Certainly, there will be some effects when (not if) the poles flip again, but to what extent? Let’s explore the science behind magnetic pole reversal and what might happen when everything flips upside down.
What a Magnetic Pole Shift Actually Is
As any elementary school student can tell you, our planet has two poles: north and south. What they don’t teach young children is that those poles can shift positions. It’s happened multiple times over Earth’s history and it absolutely will happen again. In fact, it’s happening right now.
Thanks to the magnetic field around the planet—largely generated by the molten core—a compass always points north, toward the Arctic. After a pole reversal, that compass will suddenly point toward Antarctica instead of Santa’s workshop in the Arctic. That might be the first sign most modern humans notice, but it’s not as simple or benign as the needle on a compass.
Pole reversal isn’t like flipping a light switch. It happens over a long period of time and often has false starts and unpredictable patterns. The problem with this slow-moving change is that modern man has lost the ability to watch nature’s signs. Though the pole shift is a slow process, it still brings lasting and sometimes devastating effects. Without seeing the slow and steady signs, most humans won’t be prepared when Mother Nature kicks them in the Jimmies.
More on that in a bit—we still have some disbelievers we need to educate.
How We Know Magnetic Pole Reversals Are Real
There is limited anthropological evidence of what exactly happens to life on Earth when the poles reverse. Humans have only been around for about 200,000 years, and much of that time was spent simply surviving, not charting pole reversals. However, we do have geological evidence that shows that reversals have happened many times before. Volcanic rocks, especially ones found under the sea, show magnetic patterns that prove these events have been happening since our planet was formed.
It’s not just rocks that can help us prove the poles aren’t static. Measurements of the magnetic field starting around 1840 show a drastic and predictable decline in strength. There are some brief records as early as the 1500s, but any real tracking started much later. From that data, scientists have been able to show a steady decline in the magnetic field, and extrapolate a likely continued reduction, thus showing that there is a real possibility of a full magnetic reversal coming soon.
To help solidify their claims, measuring the magnetic response of minerals in ancient Roman pottery shows that Earth’s magnetic field was nearly twice as strong back in Roman times as it is today.
How Long Does a Magnetic Pole Shift Take?
You may not be able to see it day to day, but it’s happening. Evidence shows that the time between reversals is variable. The best that researchers can do is estimate the shift between one to several thousand years. Considering the clear evidence showing a geologically rapid reduction in the magnetic field, many believe we’re at the beginning of one such reversal right now.
Video: Global View of a Polar Shift
The video below shows a frightening global view of a pole reversal already in progress. It’s so well known that it’s been given its own name: The Southern Anomaly or the South Atlantic Anomaly.
How a Magnetic Pole Shift Could Affect Modern Society
Without a complete history of the planet, it’s impossible to say that a magnetic pole reversal will be harmless. Clearly, reversals have a lasting effect on minerals within the planet because we can see the geological history of Earth in volcanic rocks. We also have the human-made pottery dating back thousands of years showing that the magnetic field is declining at a geologically rapid rate. So, to say that modern society won’t be affected is shortsighted and willfully ignorant.
There will be changes. There will be unpredictable effects. And, of course, there will be human nature to contend with. In fact, some believe parts of the planet may even become uninhabitable.
How a Pole Shift Could Cause Natural Disasters
- Magnetic field patterns could become more complicated. We may have multiple norths and souths at any given time. The magnetic field has a direct effect on Earth’s weather patterns. You could see some very unusual, and possibly devastating, weather patterns.
- The poles may wander—they don’t always move in a straight, uninterrupted line. The poles may begin to reverse but then reset back to proper north and south. This could cause serious issues in sensitive electronics, especially in navigation equipment such as what is used on modern aircraft.
- Magnetic field strength could drop as low as a tenth of what it is now. Magnetic field changes will weaken atmospheric defenses against solar radiation. If the atmosphere is weakened or altered, we will be exposed to more high-energy particles than we’re used to. Without our protective atmosphere fully intact, the sun could cause massive earthquakes—in fact, the sun’s own shifting magnetic field can, too.
How Pole Reversal Could Affect Technology and Human Nature
- Power grids across the world could go down causing trillions of dollars in damages due to magnetic shifts.
- A weakened atmosphere could expose our power grids to solar radiation and knock them out. In 1988 a solar storm caused massive blackouts in Quebec, Canada. Need more proof? Check out this slideshow of the worst solar storms in history.
- Anything that is magnetically sensitive could be affected, including phones, computers, life-saving devices, and even satellites. The Southern Anomaly, for example, already affects satellites passing through it. Imagine the same effect across the globe.
- Without power or satellites, global communication would collapse. Humans are panicky creatures. Take away their electronics and their power and we could see mass panic, civil unrest, and total anarchy in the streets.
- With a weakened atmosphere, we have an increased vulnerability to solar caused EMPs (electromagnetic pulse). Besides destroying modern technology, an EMP can actually have an effect on humans as well.
The Affect of a Magnetic Shift on Animals
- Animals that use the magnetic field to navigate may become confused, altering their normal migration patterns. Disruptions in animal migrations can affect food for other animals and humans. Don’t be surprised if a flock of seagulls ends up in your living room.
- With nearly 1/3 of the planet’s animals already in danger of extinction, a magnetic shift could push those species to extinction, causing further food shortages and irreparable damage to the ecosystem. Mass extinctions have happened before, thanks to magnetic shifts.
Some of this is speculation, of course. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist (or a geologist, in this case) to figure out the far-reaching effects of magnetic pole reversal on a society that depends on electronics and magnetically sensitive equipment for daily survival. The proof is out there. Magnetic shifts are a naturally occurring (and reoccurring) part of our planet’s history, and it looks like one is already happening right under our feet.
A tool such as this one can actually measure the strength of electromagnetic field radiation in your area. When you first get it, take a baseline reading of the magnetic field in your area. As the months go by, recheck the reading in the same location and log the results. Do you see the magnetic fields weakening or strengthening? Sometimes too much information will drive us crazy, but sometimes it can save your life. Check out the current price of this cool gadget here.
Are There Any Possible Safe Zones If the Poles Reverse?
Preppers can prepare for war, famine, manmade atrocities, and even many of Mother Nature’s regular onslaughts. But a magnetic pole reversal is something completely different. It will affect the very ground we stand on, the air we breathe, and the machines we rely on to stay connected.
Grim, I know, but this is the reality of pole reversals. Even though we can’t stop the poles from shifting, I’ve never met a prepper who was willing to just lay down and give up in the face of adversity. So, what can you do to stay safe when the shift of magnetic poles happens? Will there even be safe locations?
Science says, yes! Since we’ve already seen that some researchers firmly believe there will be uninhabitable regions on the planet, it stands to reason there will also be inhabitable ones. It’s impossible to predict exactly where they’ll be, so your best course of action is to prepare a safe zone for yourself, using the knowledge you’ve gained here.
- Look for areas that are the least likely to flood. Higher elevations are safer, but mountains may become unstable with shifting tectonic plates and global warming, so choose something in between the two extremes.
- Areas with a little history of earthquakes or other natural disasters will likely be safest during a pole shift, though be prepared for unpredictable events. Knowing the current solar activity of your area can help predict how much solar radiation you may be exposed to after the poles shift. I like this map which shows solar energy potential. It’s logical that an area with high solar energy potential now would probably be dangerously high in solar radiation if the atmosphere weakens due to pole reversal.
- Choose a location with a plentiful natural food supply such as farming land or hunting grounds.
- Avoid heavily populated areas—other people will likely panic and become dangerous.
Pole Shift Predictions Backed by Science
It’s impossible to say when the next pole shift will complete. As I’ve stated, there’s already one in effect. The Southern Anomaly may eventually engulf the whole world, or it may spontaneously revert back to normal. Only time will tell for certain, but this current shift isn’t a new thing. Shifts have been going on for years.
- In 2014, Smithsonian.com reported that the north pole was already drifting closer to Siberia. At the time, the pole was shifting south at about 25 miles per year.
- Then, in 2017, Smithsonian.com presented a new map of the world that shows the magnetic field, thanks to the European Space Agency’s Swarm mission. You can clearly see magnetic stripes of alternating and reversed polarities along the ocean crust.
So, when will the next shift be? Right now!
The Last Pole Shift, According to Science
The last pole reversal was about 781,000 years ago. There was a minor shift approximately 41,000 years ago but it only lasted around 250 years before it flipped back to what we consider normal. History has shown that the magnetic field is constantly moving and changing, though true reversals happen typically every 200,000 to 300,000 years. Sounds like it’s overdue to me.
What Does NASA Say About Magnetic Pole Shifts?
NASA wants you to know that pole reversals happen “all the time”, and they want you to believe you’re safe. They agree with other scientists who say that pole reversals happen about every 200,000 to 300,000 years. And they admit that it’s been about twice that long since the last true reversal. At the same time, they wag a scolding finger at preppers, trying to shame us into feeling silly for worrying about weakening atmosphere and radiation damage.
While I don’t disagree with some of what NASA has to say, I also won’t just sit back and see what happens. Sure, the sites who claim the magnetic field will completely disappear are being ridiculous; I’ve made no such claims here. The legitimate research shows that the magnetic field is already weakening and will likely continue to. We even have an obvious reversal in the South Atlantic that’s killing our satellites. NASA wants us to stop worrying, but there is too much evidence pointing to a magnetic pole reversal happening right now. I’m not going to pretend everything is peachy keen, and neither should you.
Are you concerned at the possibility of a pole shift? What kind of effects are you expecting to occur as a result? Share in the comments below!