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“‘The sky is falling,’” shouted Chicken Little, and they all ran for cover.” Today it seems as if we are all running for cover from something: floods, wildfires, tornadoes, inflation, deflation in housing values, global warming, ice storms, hailstorms, bankruptcies or foreclosures, obesity, contaminated food supply, or some other newsworthy event. Perhaps we can blame it all on the media. If they didn’t report all that bad stuff, then we would not know about it and worry. The reality, however, is that we do have media, and the media can sometimes scare the hell out of us.

I have been a part of that media since first joining the news department of the Wall Street Journal back in 1961. In reviewing the multitude of publications I receive to aid in preparing for the semiannual updates to my four textbooks published by Thomson Reuters West—ranging from the American Bar Association’s The Brief and the Defense Research Institute’s For the Defense to Best’s Review and National Underwriter—I often come across articles, statistics, or court cases that are surprising. Several I have shared in these columns over the years, and others have made only the one-shot introductions to the supplemental updates, citing what may be a current event, but not something of long-lasting interest to that textbook’s reader.

One item from a recent issue of National Underwriter did warrant long-term preservation, which it will receive in the next supplement to Chapter 12 of CAT Claims – Insurance Coverage for Natural and Man-made Disasters, on which I am only a co-author and of which Chapter 12 covers man-made or combination human and natural disasters. One such example is solar storms. Good heavens! Don’t we have enough trouble with earthly storms? Now we have to worry about storms on the sun? Is the sky falling? Scientists at the Atmospheric & Environmental Research agency who wrote the National Underwriter article, published Sept. 5, 2011, Nicole Homeier, Kyle Beatty and James Martin Griffin, think that there is sufficient risk for which we must prepare. Why? How, and what exactly is a “solar storm”? If the last major one occurred in 1859, then what seems to be the big deal?

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