How, exactly, does this interesting historical tidbit pander to a scientifically dumbed-down populace in an effort to create an atmosphere of unjustified fear? Does the serendipity of the 2003 CME having not been Earth-facing somehow vitiate the probability of such a massive CME arriving in the future?
I recall the news of the 2003 CME and the relief expressed that it was not on a trajectory toward Earth and particularly its communication satellites (not to mention the USA's surveiilance, nuclear launch early warning, GPS and weather satellites). The economic damage (and potential national security damage) to be caused by such an event is immense. It hardly would be the end of the world (and IMHO we would be better off without many of our so-called technological conveniences). Nonetheless, it is important to be aware of such phenomena, and to be reasonably prepared. True, there is a resurgent tin-foil-hat movement of obsessive survivalist types. But there is a reasonable point on the continuum between blissful ignorance and overzealousness.
The posted historical reference is fascinating if for no other reason than that it reminds us of our impotence in the face of nature's force.
And without debating either the cause, or the efficacy of human interventions, if you seriously question whether the ice caps are melting, the sea is rising, populations are already evacuating from some flooded ocean isles, species are becoming extinct due to thermal pollution, and so on, I must again respectfully submit that you may belong to the segment of our society you criticize for being gullible!
Additionally, while the H1N1 pandemic thus far has been more annoyance than plague, it is testament to vigilant scientific and governmental advance preparation that we are in a position to not be panicked and to not repeat the mistakes of 1977. Any time transposons from a virus cause the virus to jump species, it is a matter of immediate and grave concern. Have you so quickly forgotten the swine/bird flu that erupted in Asia just a couple of years ago and carried a nearly 50% mortality rate? Have you forgotten SARS, that ravaged certain communities including pockets of our neighboring Canada? Oh, but we must not encourage preparation, because by doing so, we are pandering to the dumbed down masses, right?
Some things, of course, we are simply incapable of mitigating at all, even if we happen to be forewarned. Your examples of comets, asteroids, etc. striking the Earth are good ones in that regard.
And one day, Old Sol will expand, engulfing the Earth and several other planets before it recedes into a white dwarf. No doubt homo sapien will long since have gone extinct by that time.
I'm reminded of a Woody Allen film -- "Stardust Memories." In one scene, a grade school-aged Woody is visited at home by a school official, because the lad refuses to do his assignments. The exasperated mother laments to the school official "He just won't do his homework." Young Woody retorts "The Universe is expanding!" The school official asks "And, so...?" to which young Woody replies "What's the point?"
Confronted with that question, one is pressed to argue why the transient, temporal enjoyment of quality life during our, and subsequent, generations matters.
Those who believe it does matter, take interest in posts such as the one at issue.
Of course, whether it actually matters or not, is a question that cannot be answered by science.