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Solar storms: harden your networks – its getting warmer.

Written By: - Date published: 9:16 am, June 11th, 2010 - 37 comments
Categories: climate change, science - Tags: , ,

The sun is emerging from its deep sleep of the Solar Minimum. The increased sensitivity of human networks from satellites to power grids is starting to worry people who know what they’re talking about enough to cause them to have held a meeting on it.

The sun produces sunspots in a reasonably regular eleven year cycle between Solar maximums. The amplitude varies over time as you can see from the counts over the last couple of centuries (the numbers prior to 1850 are a bit patchy).

Click for larger view

As the wikipedia entry on sunspots says:

The number of sunspots correlates with the intensity of solar radiation over the period since 1979, when satellite measurements of absolute radiative flux became available.

These allow plumes of higher energy particles than usual to get expelled from deep inside of the sun’s fusion furnace. The effect on the earths climate is fortunately limited by a earths magnetic field. However as more charged particles strike the field, it depresses closer to the surface and more charged particles get down to the surface.

In the geological history however there have been periodic magnetic inversions where the north and south magnetic poles flip. As wikipedia says:-

Because the magnetic field has never been observed to reverse by humans with instrumentation, and the mechanism of field generation is not well understood, it is difficult to say what the characteristics of the magnetic field might be leading up to such a reversal. Some speculate that a greatly diminished magnetic field during a reversal period will expose the surface of the earth to a substantial and potentially damaging increase in cosmic radiation. However, Homo erectus and their ancestors certainly survived many previous reversals. There is no uncontested evidence that a magnetic field reversal has ever caused any biological extinctions. A possible explanation is that the solar wind may induce a sufficient magnetic field in the Earth’s ionosphere to shield the surface from energetic particles even in the absence of the Earth’s normal magnetic field.[7]

Personally, while the biological systems may have evolved to handle the increased flux during the flip, I’d take a bet that our electrical and electronic technology hasn’t. They certainly have had problems with mere increases in the solar output from the sunspot cycle.

The leakage of extra charged particles into the atmosphere which have previously caused issues for our technological systems. Most notable in modern times was the power outage in the Quebec power grid in 1989 which was attributed to a solar storm. Modern electronics are far more susceptible to charged particles than electrical systems.

Over the last decade since a peak in late 90’s and early 00’s we’ve been diminishing to the Solar Minimum. However the number of sunspots is due to rise again.

The following quote is from prior to the last Solar Maximum. It is worth repeating simply because it gives the strong impression of the rate of change of vulnerable devices world wide. For instance I understand that there are more cellphones in operation in NZ these days than there was in the US in 1981.

Why should we care that we are now once again living under ‘sunspot maximum’ conditions? After all, we have already weathered at least five of these solar activity cycles since the end of World War II. What is different about the world today is that we are substantially more reliant upon computers and telecommunications to run our commerce, and even our forms of entertainment and recreation. In 1981, at the peak of solar cycle 21, there were 15 communication satellites in orbit. Cellular phones were rare and there were 800,000 PCs sold in the U.S. with 300 hosts on the Internet. By the time the peak of solar cycle 22 came around in 1989, there were 102 communication satellites, and 3 million cellular phone users in the United States. With the new Intel 80486-based PCs, you could send e-mail to your choice of 300,000 host machines on the Internet.

As we arrive at the peak of the 23rd sunspot cycle in 2000-2001, however, we enter a very different world far more reliant on what used to be the luxuries of the Space Age. By 2000, 349 communication satellites orbit the Earth supporting over $60 billion of commerce. Over 100 million people have cellular phones, and Global Positioning System handsets are a commonplace for people working, or camping, ‘off road’. By 2003, 400 million people will routinely use wireless data transmission via satellite channels. There will be over 10 million Internet hosts with 38% of US households Internet-connected. To support all of this, not only will we need more satellites, but we will need more electricity flowing in our power grid which will have to work under loads unheard of in the past. As voters continue to elect not to build more power plants, blackouts and brownouts will become more common as power companies run out of temporary sources of power to buy during peak-load conditions during the summer and winter.

Yeah, I remember those crude old days (when things look better in 20:20 hindsight). The simple days when there were only millions of nodes on the Internet. There were still a lot of aircraft flying without fly by wire systems. When kids didn’t have a cellphone for each network. When the number of transistors in the CPU’s and GPU’s of a desktop computer or laptops were measured in million’s, much the same as those in cellphones are today.

Of course there is also the issue of where the extra energy pushed into the atmosphere and trapped with the increased greenhouse effect is going to wind up. The average temperatures around the world have been rising steadily during a period heading to the Solar Minimum as part of a long term trend. After all we have managed to keep the temperature averages rising over the last decade instead of doing their post Solar Maximum decrease. Now more energy is coming online…..

37 comments on “Solar storms: harden your networks – its getting warmer.”

  1. James John 1

    great article thank you.

  2. I look forward to a hotter summer

  3. really 3

    Interesting post Lynn. Those electronic manufacturers will be rubbing their hands together hoping for a rash of breakdowns and replacement purchases.

    Not sure about the last graph as the base it is using is the “Best estimate for absolute global mean for 1951-1980 is 14.0 deg-C” (1) , so while it is a good indicator for a possible temperature trend it a) is a bit of a guess because of the base uncertainty b) doesn’t show any cycles so makes it hard to determine what may or may not be happening in relation to solar flare cycles.

    (1) http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/GLB.Ts+dSST.txt

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Denialism

    • lprent 3.2

      It is a delta chart to show temperature differences from an arbitrary base. It obviously has to start from somewhere, and the period they have picked is where there are reasonably good global records. Also 1950 onwards is in the current long term pattern of higher Solar Maximums.

      But it doesn’t really matter what the base used from where we have good temperature records. The effect in the last 50-100 years is always the same, a fast climb in tempatures.

      If they’d used a base of around 1905 as Don Easterbrook was suggesting in my previous post, then the delta climb would have been even higher because the Solar Max was a lot lower.

      If they’d picked around 1850 when the apparent peaks were higher, we’d still be showing a fast rise.

      • really 3.2.1

        Agree. The margin for error is still reasonably high.

        • lprent 3.2.1.1

          Sure, but the margin is pretty much on when things will happen rather than if they will happen. The science of atmospheric physics is pretty clear and unambiguous. Increasing greenhouse gases will increase the amount of energy retained as heat in our living space.

          Since the heat balance of the earth is very finely balanced, any sudden change (geologically speaking) tends to shift out of the narrow band that we’ve lived in for the last 10k years. Our civilization has a massive implicit dependency on the stability of the climate, so that isn’t good. Especially with the natural resource base stretched as far as it is into unsustainable usage because of population and expectation growth.

          The IPCC reports are very conservative scientifically because the science parts concentrate exclusively on what can be proven. I find that their worst case scenario is pretty much what I’d expect as an absolute best case (and their other two scenarios are just laughable). All of the since proven evidence since AR4 shows that, especially in the areas for positive feedback like ice cover.

          There is a high margin for error. Unfortunately it is all to the worse, and nothing to the better. Of course people who can’t follow the evidence prefer not to believe that. It’d involve hard changes…. Something that humans excel in avoiding.

          • really 3.2.1.1.1

            Yes things are changing and yes the downsides make pretty grim reading.

            The issue that I have is not with the fact that one directional climate change is a bad thing but with the degree of reliance on things like the historical (assumed) baseline temperatures to prove that this is happening.

            Out of interest, is there a commonly accepted ‘list’ of things that could easily be done/implemented to reduce climate change?

            • lprent 3.2.1.1.1.1

              Yeah there are a range of things from orbital mirrors to getting the oceans to suck up more CO2 to storing CO2 in empty oil wells.

              Most of them are palliatives in that they don’t have long-term stability – they depend on having the high-energy civilization to maintain them, or they simply defer the problem for a short period of time – eg the ocean ideas.

              The simplest (and easiest) is to reduce the dependence on burning fossil carbon. That is more of failure of will than a technical issue.

  4. Bored 4

    Interesting stuff, the on the ground effects are going to be the interesting bits….

    From a weather viewpoint last spring we had a hugely windy time here in the Capital…cooler and wetter. I saw an item in November describing the El Nino event and that water temperatures mid Pacific were several degrees higher than average creating a big hot spot. In laymans terms this warmed air above it rose to be replaced by cooler air sucked in from the Southern ocean. It all seemed to come through Cook Straight giving us a crap spring.

    I would be interested to see some follow up on this like a regular report so we can track what effects actually happen, does the base information come from a regular source?

    • lprent 4.1

      Should be pretty standard data sources. I picked large chunks of this off NASA after I read a yahoo post. The sunspot data is ultimately from the collection point in Belgium. All of the data is pretty much available on the net these days. (of course there is the underlying question of the net handling the subject 🙂 )

      Hang out for wordpress 3.0 with its multi-site goodies. I want to set up a scitech.thestandard.org.nz that this type of post would be perfect for – along with my rants about iTunes – and anyone else who can write.

      Politics as a continual diet isn’t all that fulfilling 😈

      • NickS 4.1.1

        If I haven’t got a blog up and running by then, I might have a piece on 1080 and general pest control and fluoridation stupidity, and conservation/ecology stuff that I could chuck your way for it.
        /evil grin

        • lprent 4.1.1.1

          The delays are getting to be a bit of a pain – April, May, and now June for WordPress 3.0. But it should be soon. You’re welcome to come on as an author (because you can write) – the same relaxed rules as the political blog for authors. Since we’re not writing papers but more communicating scitech, I’d prefer pseudonymous.

          The blogs will cross-reference posts in the Community tabs on the right, because politics is science and vice-versa. Traffic and number of posts will probably be somewhat smaller than the political side.

          • NickS 4.1.1.1.1

            Awesome and thanks, but since I’ll probably be cross-posting stuff on my own blog I’ll use my current name. Though I’ll save the more esoteric, “what the hell/my brain hurts” stuff for my one 😀

            • lprent 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Cool. The stuff will be more science and tech overview – like the stuff that various of us have been writing. But with resource pages as well (so i can do things like put up example code).

              • NickS

                Neat, I just need to keep my present upswing motivation rolling then, though with the downtime due to dropping down to one course next semester and the temp-agency job-dance I should have plenty of time to pull together some good posts.

                I might try some brain storming tomorrow then and see if I can build up a bank of science topics related to present political issues, and finally get started on the 1080 thing.

                Which has been sitting on the back-burner for a year now.

                And I look forward to the iTunes rant.

      • Bored 4.1.2

        Excellent idea, I am really interested in posting on ecology, environmental issues that raise to raise awareness, would be good as it i see a lot locally but theres a hell of a lot more to be known / seen / discusssed etc.

      • travellerev 4.1.3

        Hi LPrent

        I’ve managed to secure the name “Subversive Foodie” and I’m working on my Diary Of a Subversive Foodie blog. I have you see, an extremely sinful hobby. Making my own fermented meats (Hams, Bacon sausages and all the Charcutery stuff you can’t get here) and cheeses (all the down and dirty un-pasteurised European style cheeses you can’t get here either) and growing my own foods etc. (I’ve stopped fermenting my own booze because it was just to good and to easy, Sigh)

        Anyway this seems to be almost subversive these day hence the name. LOL.

        • Santi 4.1.3.1

          Do you wear a tin-foil hat while preparing all these delicacies, Dutch Einstein?

          • RedLogix 4.1.3.1.1

            These ugly, misery gutted little noises you are dropping all over the threads don’t add much signal. Lift your game.

          • travellerev 4.1.3.1.2

            I don’t get it Santi,

            Sometimes you actually say sensible things. So why the vile stupidity in the face of real tangible discrepancies and mis-information in and about the official story and why here when we are talking about things absolutely not related to what you call conspiracy theories?

            Could it be you’re suffering from Cognitive dissonance?

  5. Oscar 5

    Solar Maximum also coincides with the planets lining up with the black hole in the centre of our galaxy.
    No idea what effect, if any, this will have. As it is the first time these two events coincide in nearly 2000 years, there is no recorded knowledge of what happens on earth.
    Will our seasons be affected? Will the poles shift even more, knowing that the north pole is shifting rapidly from hudson bay? Who knows.

    • NickS 5.1

      There will be no effect, why? Because your dealing with very, very small levels of gravitational attraction, that only really impacts on large masses, like stars. Where as planets generally are influence by objects within far smaller interstellar distances, mainly local large bodies of mass, like local stars, and heavier objects, along with planets, dwarf planets, moons and rocks. All of which can be worked out via basic Newtonian gravitational equations for two bodies, and forecasting techniques for three + bodies.

      Also, our star orbits the central black hole, which means we come into “alignment” with it regularly. aka we would have probably seen effects within human time scales already.

      Oh yeah, people, please quit it with the 2012 nonsense already, or at least explain it to your kids/other people’s kids that it’s a load of bullshit:
      http://skepticblog.org/2010/06/08/kids-fear2012/

      And next person to spout 2012 nonsense will be cluebatted with

    • Bright Red 5.2

      I’m pretty sure that’s not right.

      a) the planets won’t be ‘lined up’ any time soon http://www.fourmilab.ch/cgi-bin/Solar

      b) when, as must very occassionally occur, the planets are all in a line from the sun, the odds that they will be pointing towards the centre of the galaxy are (literally) astronomical. In fact, I’m not even sure the Solar plane intercepts with the Galactic plane in such a way that they could point towards the centre of the galaxy.

      c) even if it did happen the forces are minute. The effect of gravity from the Earth on us is 10 metres a second squared, the effect of the Sun is 0.0006 of that. The other planets have a combined mass about 1% of the Sun’s. And the gravitational attraction of the galaxy on us is (by my reckoning) 0.00002 of earth’s gravity on us.

  6. NickS 6

    Personally, while the biological systems may have evolved to handle the increased flux during the flip…

    bork

    Nyet, infrequent events like that only drive selection during the event, rather than in-between events, meaning that other selection pressures alter what ever traits were selected for. And even then, dealing with it might be as simple as plain old phenotypic plasticity in terms of up-regulation of protective proteins and DNA repair enzymes 😛

    /bio-geek

    • really 6.1

      Translation, more birth defects and aborted pregnancies during these events?

      • NickS 6.1.1

        No, your talking about a jump in background radiation that is presently thought not to be a big driver of cancer-causing mutations per studies of populations living around (well maintained) nuclear power plants*. Will it cause a statistically significant increase in background radiation that will cause an increase in mutation rates? Yeap, but as I said there’s ways of dealing with this that involve up-regulating DNA repair enzymes, and not all mutations lead to malignant cancerous cells (many genetic roads, more oft than not rather biochemically twisty), or mid-late term miscarriages and abortions due to fetal abnormalities. To put in perspective, you’re much more likely to end up with cancer via working with radiation sources or mutagenic chemicals (and not following all the safety requirements) than you are from a slight increase in background radiation.

        And on the miscarriages, from memory I don’t think we have a good idea about the early term rate of them (clinically apparent vs non-apparent or non recorded), which is the first hurdle to generally clear. However I don’t have recent stuff lurking in my memory, and wikipedia isn’t much help.

        [Edit]
        ugh, stupid wikipedians not sticking relevant info on the right page:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion#Spontaneous_abortion

        So basically, our electrical stuff is more at risk from solar flares and magnetic field reversals than organic life is, unless you happen to be in an unshielded space craft/station, in which case you’re going to get more than the recommended dose.

        *What the authors failed to do was link the rates of blood cancers to viral diseases via anti-body tests + a few other controls if memory serves me right.

        • really 6.1.1.1

          Thanks Nick. Looking forward to your posts on the scitech blog.

          Should be a good addition to the NZ blogosphere.

          Can I humbly suggest that the scitech blog does not focus predominately on Climate Change, the reason being that it is a politically charged topic and will attract nutjobs of all colours.

          • lprent 6.1.1.1.1

            Hey I’m a programmer writing this on my brand new iPad. There is a limit on how much tech stuff I can write on a political blog. Same for the science (my first degree).

            I suspect that climate change will still be there because I am interested in the science. But it comes up here because the science is pretty well defined. The problem is political

          • NickS 6.1.1.1.2

            Thanks Nick. Looking forward to your posts on the scitech blog.

            Should be a good addition to the NZ blogosphere.

            Thanks, I just need to try and deal with motivation fun from my (treated) depression, but that’s what my student union fees pay for with really cheap counselling sessions. I just need to avoid the usual symptom of not breaking things done and pick up on some of the writing tricks the most excellent Ed Yong uses, and less like Darren Nash as I tend to…

            Hmmn, might need to actually start using that thread again to keep myself sane while I try and get some part time work.

            Can I humbly suggest that the scitech blog does not focus predominately on Climate Change, the reason being that it is a politically charged topic and will attract nutjobs of all colours.

            It comes down to the Emissions Trading Scheme and whatever succeeds the Kyoto Treaty, and the political opposition to it from ACT*, but also National’s pathetic modifications to the ETS and seeming incapability to be bothered with climate change. An issue that should not be, in my view, allowed to slip quietly out of sight.

            On top of that, I’m of the opinion that the IPCC is being far too conservative on feed-back effects, primarily the methane being released as methane clathrates decompose, though I’m more interested in ecological feed-back effects, such as changes in vegetation patterns and animal ranges.

            *And no mention of ACT’s braindeadness on climate change is complete without posting the following link about how ACT effectively sold out their previously sensible (for ACT…) climate change policies for some political funding:
            http://deepclimate.org/2009/08/01/meet-alan-gibbs-builder-of-amphibious-humvees-and-climate-science-coalitions/

            • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.2.1

              Thanks, I just need to try and deal with motivation fun from my (treated) depression,

              Best wishes with that. My older daughter whose just graduated from Vic (in an Earth Science) has also been hit badly by it as well. From what she says its seems a ridiculously common after-effect of completing a degree course these days.

              • NickS

                …And before I forget again…

                Thanks, though I’ve had this since before getting my BSc, so around 5 years, 3 years without knowing about it, and the 2 I did doing the ye olde NZ male stupidity of not getting proper help for it.

                And I hope your daughter gets through it.

  7. Jenny 7

    I remember reading somewhere that a severe electromagnetic storm struck the earth in the 1890’s with enough force to seriously damage the nascent hard wired telegraph system.

    Considering that such early communications technology was by it’s nature far more robust than modern electronic based communications, and even electricity supply systems, the consequence of a an electromagnetic storm of similar strength hitting today because of our reliance on these systems would be far more damaging.

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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    5 days ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    5 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    5 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    6 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    6 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    7 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    7 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    1 week ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    2 weeks ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    2 weeks ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
    The Government is backing the Reserve Bank’s latest action to support the economy by reducing longer-term interest rates, meaning lower costs for businesses and mortgage holders, and a lower currency to help our exporters. The Minister of Finance has signed a memorandum of understanding and a letter of indemnity with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government statement on commercial cooperation during COVID-19
    The Government has asked the Commerce Commission to take account of the exceptional circumstances created by COVID-19 when monitoring business behaviour in coming weeks.   “The purpose of my request to the Commerce Commission is to make sure businesses can work together in ways that will allow them to provide ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand temporarily closes diplomatic posts in Barbados and Myanmar due to COVID-19
    The New Zealand Government has temporarily closed its High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados and its Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.   “Due to the increasing scarcity of air links in and out of Bridgetown and Yangon, and the pressure COVID-19 is placing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting Māori communities and businesses through
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