NASA tracks the potentially killer fireballs circling the sun, but the toilet-killing CMEs are even more frightening.
NASA tracks the potentially killer fireballs circling the sun, but the toilet-killing CMEs are even more frightening.


1. Fracking our way to prosperity

The Halifax Examiner assigned a reporter to cover last night’s meeting of the fracking review panel. We’ll publish a recap this morning; check back on the home page. Early reports back are that the audience was not at all happy at the direction the panel is taking.

2. Africville dog park relocation

The Halifax Examiner will also publish an article about last night’s public consultation about replacing the Africville dog park later today, but the short of it is that after some tense moments early on, meeting participants got on task and basically panned the city’s plan for a temporary dog park close to the MacKay Bridge. Instead, participants seemed to agree that a larger permanent dog park on the Mainland Common in Clayton Park was the best solution, and city staff seemed to think that could be achieved before the scheduled year-end closure of the Africville dog park.

3. Out-of-province health coverage extended

From six months to seven months.

4. More bullshit from the airport

Joyce Carter, president and CEO of the airport, tells the Daily Business Buzz that forcing passengers to tag and lug their bags to the conveyor belts themselves is an “improved level of service.” But note that business class passengers still receive the “traditional service.” If self-tagging and self-bagging is an “improved level of service,” how come the coddled business class passengers don’t have to do it?

5. The animals among us

A great white shark is spotted off St. Andrews.

Combine a hot summer with the loss of things that eat them (bats due to White Nose Syndrome, and declining numbers of barn swallows and chimney swifts) and we’ve got a gazillion mosquitoes, black flies and horse flies.


1. To serve you better: get your own damn mail

Good on Claire McIlveen for using economic multipliers where none of the economic development professionals use it: for understanding the reverse economic impacts of laying people off, like when a bunch of decently paid postal workers are let go.

2. Port Royal Habitation

Stephen Archibald goes there.

3. The Tim Merry buzzword generator

Woo-woo! The drinking words are: “impact,” “leadership,” and double shots for “change leader.”



Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee (2pm, City Hall)—an obscure city committee will solve all our economic problems and put Halifax on the map. Click here to see the details.

Public Information Meeting (7pm, Terence Bay Fire Hall)—Much ado about nothing.


No public meetings.

On Campus


Community Open House in Truro (10am, Faculty of Agriculture, Truro)—”Explore Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture from the view of a horse-drawn wagon, enjoy family-friendly activities, tour our gardens – our campus is open to you! Take the 45-minute scenic drive to Truro from Halifax and spend time with us enjoying our complementary ice cream and our BBQ featuring your favourite treats ranging from $1 to $5. We hope to see you there!” I dunno, sounds like some sort of Soviet collectivist scam.

Daily Plug

We’re in the news doldrums of high summer, so I’ve been increasingly checking out, NASA’s site about all things space weather-related. It turns out, however, that it’s even a slow time for space weather news: the sun is in an unusual dormant period between sunspot cycles, and so there are no solar flares or the other nifty stuff the site normally reports on. But that gives astronomers a lucky view of the planet Jupiter, even though it’s actually behind the sun; “Because the sun is so quiet, however, Jupiter is still able to make itself heard,” says SW. “Jupiter’s radio storms are caused by natural radio lasers in the planet’s magnetosphere that sweep past Earth as Jupiter rotates. Electrical currents flowing between Jupiter’s upper atmosphere and the volcanic moon Io can boost these emissions to power levels easily detected by ham radio antennas on Earth. Jovian ‘S-bursts’ and ‘L-bursts’ mimic the sounds of woodpeckers, whales, and waves crashing on the beach.” I don’t think “mimic” is the right word there, or if it is, the universe works in ways utterly beyond the comprehension of my tiny brain, but you get the idea.

Since there’s not much current news to report (well, except for the killer fireballs in the graphic up above), SW tells us about the near-collapse of civilization a couple of years ago, on July 23, 2012. Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado wrote about it in a paper entitled “A major solar eruptive event in July 2012,” which, says SW, “describes how a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) tore through Earth orbit on July 23, 2012.  Fortunately Earth wasn’t there.  Instead, the storm cloud hit the STEREO-A spacecraft.”

Because it hit the spacecraft, scientists have been able to learn a lot about that particular CME, and about CMEs in general. “I have come away from our recent studies more convinced than ever that Earth and its inhabitants were incredibly fortunate that the 2012 eruption happened when it did,” Baker told SW.  “If the eruption had occurred only one week earlier, Earth would have been in the line of fire.” (You can read Baker’s paper here.)

Further explains SW:

Extreme solar storms pose a threat to all forms of high-technology.  They begin with an explosion–a “solar flare”—in the magnetic canopy of a sunspot.  X-rays and extreme UV radiation reach Earth at light speed, ionizing the upper layers of our atmosphere; side-effects of this “solar EMP” include radio blackouts and GPS navigation errors. Minutes to hours later, the energetic particles arrive.  Moving only slightly slower than light itself, electrons and protons accelerated by the blast can electrify satellites and damage their electronics. Then come the CMEs, billion-ton clouds of magnetized plasma that take a day or more to cross the Sun-Earth divide.  Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket.  Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps. 

There’s a bunch more, so read it yourself, but the takeaway is that at least some scientists think that there is a 12 percent chance that a CME capable of knocking out the entire global power supply—and our toilets!—will hit the Earth over the next 50 years.

Hug your children a bit longer before packing them off to summer camp.

In the harbour

(click on vessel names for pictures and more information about the ships)


APL Coral, container ship, Cagliari to Fairview Cove West
Atlantic Cartier, con-ro, Norfolk to Fairview Cove East
Mainport Pine, research/survey vessel, BP Exploration to Pier 25
Hansa Limburg, container ship, Lisbon to Pier 42
Zim Beijing, container ship, New York to Pier 41
Wedellsborg, ro-ron cargo, Baltimore to Halterm


Atlantic Cartier to New York
Zim Beijing to Kingston, Jamaica

Of Note

It was announced last night that HMCS Toronto will be sailing
for the Mediterranean today, departing at 10am, relieving HMCS Regina.
The Regina May be coming to Halifax with the rest of SNMG2.


I apologize that the fracking and Africville articles aren’t up yet; both meetings went late and rather than rush them, I’ll give them the time they deserve. Also, I’ll nap.


Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. Nice short explanation of the CME 2012 event. I remember hearing that it might be happening, but then lost track of why it didn’t.