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Summer Shark: Satellites, our early warning system

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By Lindsay Edmunds

As a computer junkie, I have to admit that I am extremely dependent on technology, but so are each of you, even if unknowingly. After a bit of research (in other words, a quick Google search), one can find that, according to NASA, even something as common as a conversation on a cell phone involves satellites, since satellites relay your voice. More importantly, matters like weather reports on TV and radio depend on satellites, as well. As a result, satellites are becoming increasingly essential in today's society. So, in the situation that satellites are not functioning, everyday events that depend on satellites would be running amok. According to the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Heritage Foundation websites, cell phone calls, satellite TV and radios, bank and credit card transactions, air traffic control systems, as well as military operations and weather warning systems would all come to a screeching hault. Once instantaneous undertakings would suddenly become virtually impossible. This would put nations at risk in many different situations. One of which is that of severe weather warning systems. Satellite images are a main source of information for meteorologists. In the event that satellites are not functioning, citizens would be lacking certain ways of communication, and would thus be unaware of life threatening circumstances like hurricanes or tornadoes, which would come without warning. This is just one reason why citizens, especially of Cedar Key, should prepare for storms as soon as hurricane season begins. Even though we are highly dependent on satellites to give us the electronic communications we need in the event of emergencies, there are steps we can take to be prepared even if these systems fail us. For instance, we can prepare what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( the NOAA) calls a "Disaster Supply Kit." This kit includes: Water, food, blankets and pillows, clothing, first aid kit, medicines and prescription drugs, toiletries, flashlight with extra batteries, radio, a fully charged cell phone and traditional telephone, cash and credit cards, keys, important documents, tools, pet care items, and full fuel tanks in your vehicles. In the absence of satellites, the stakes are tremendous. It is extremely important for us to realize exactly how dependent we are on satellites, as well as other forms of technology, and to understand the consequences of having "all our eggs in one basket."