Conspiracy theorists blame HAARP for Northern Lights

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Conspiracy theorists think the Northern Lights were caused by the government

So are conspiracy theorists actually right for a change? Nope.


Mikael Thalen


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Countless people across the Northern Hemisphere were in awe of Mother Nature this month after witnessing the aurora borealis for the first time. However, according to conspiracy theorists, the beloved natural phenomenon was actually caused by the government.

As has long been known to science, the magnificent lights were caused by solar flares interacting with Earth’s magnetic field. Unusually intense geometric storms from the sun allowed the display to be seen in numerous countries not normally affected by such occurrences.

Yet while much of the world was marveling at images of the light display, conspiracy theorists were claiming that the event was caused by the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, better known as HAARP.

HAARP linked to conspiracy theories

HAARP is a research program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks that uses high-frequency radio pulses to interact with electrons in the Earth’s ionosphere. Conspiracy theorists have blamed HAARP for countless natural disasters, including earthquakes and tsunamis.

Unsurprisingly, the Northern Lights were also linked to HAARP almost as soon as they appeared. Conspiracy theorists noted across social media that HAARP was in operation around the same time that the aurora borealis was seen in the sky.

“It’s probably just a coincidence that HAARP can cause Auroras & they were also running operations when Global Auroras were spotted,” one user on X wrote. “Yep probably a coincidence…..”

Others made similar observations after reputable news sources confirmed that HAARP had indeed been operational.

“HAARP was definitely tested on May 10th,” another X user added. “Physics•org says it’s definitely possible for HAARP testing to cause ‘artificial glow.’ It definitely seems possible that the ‘aurora borealis’ we saw was artificially produced using HAARP.”

So are conspiracy theorists actually right for a change? Nope.

For starters, the recent light display was only predicted shortly in advance after scientists witnessed the eruption of solar flares. The HAARP testing had already been planned well over a month ago.

And while HAARP can produce an artificial airglow, it is not even close to being powerful enough to produce actual auras. In fact, as noted in a statement by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, it would take 10 billion years for HAARP to generate enough power to simulate the Northern Lights.

“Interestingly, coronal mass ejections, like the one associated with the recent geomagnetic storm, typically release more than 10^24 Joules of energy,” the university wrote. “By comparison, the high-frequency (HF) transmitter at HAARP is only a ~3 megawatt (MW) transmitter; it would take HAARP over 10 billion years to produce enough energy to affect this naturally occurring phenomenon.”

As is nearly always the case, simple fact-checking showed not only that HAARP’s test aligning with the actual solar storm was a coincidence, but that HAARP is not even remotely powerful enough to cause the displays that were seen.

Why it matters

While sometimes conspiracy theories can seem legitimate due to timing and other factors, it is always important to fact-check sensational claims. In this case, despite coincidental timing, basic facts about HAARP’s capabilities were able to quickly debunk claims of a man-made event.

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