- Winter storms
- Heat waves
- Rip Currents
That list continues and it all is part of your daily life – we all depend on our National Weather Service (NWS) to warn and protect us and to just tell us what our day will be. Years ago now, the Republicans set themselves on this course – we have the Weather Channel so why do we need the NWS, why do we need NOAA? It’s been their call for years Get rid of NOAA, get rid of the EPA, get rid of the government?
Today that goal is still in the Republican play book. They are trying to be more cagey about it; burying their attempt in bills; denying funding, making it ridiculously hard to hire. The NWS tends to be pretty popular with the people so why did they get a target on their back?
An underlying reason is that Republicans don’t believe in the science of Climate Change. They put a target on NOAA, which includes the NWS, because climate and weather are interconnected and, in fact, cannot be separated. The NOAA scientists study climate and they could not do other than follow the science and the facts. They confirm that accelerated climate change is real and so the Republican Congress tries to silence them. They try to keep NOAA from studying the science or talking about it.
That then leaves the NWS vulnerable to other “attacks”; and the threat to the agency is real. Like other functions the Republican congress is now trying to privatize all but the most basic functions of the NWS. So image a world here where severe weather warnings do not come from the NWS instead you have to pay a private corporation money for a forecast. Despite the fact that your taxes are paying for the data that they use. If you don’t have money for a forecast you are left without an option.
Imagine a world where you may get a warning for a tornado and your neighbor who is using a different service doesn’t get it or that you sign up for two services and one gives you one warning and the other gives you another warning. Or will the companies be willing to give a warning because of liability. Who will forecast for fires? Will someone take on that very difficult role? Right now the NWS puts a forecaster on site when its needed. Who will do that in a world where the NWS role is privatized? What about tsunamis? Who will be there when a tsunami warning is needed? Did you know that your NWS did these things? Threatening and degrading the NWS is a very slippery slope. Right now there is a very good partnership where the NWS has a strong and well defined role and they work with the private sector and the educational community. The Republican Congress wants to throw a wrench into that working and blow up the partnership.
Pay attention and advocate for your NWS. Austerity and the rejection of facts is really hurting NOAA, the NWS, the government and the country. In a world where we are worried about a lot of different things, including climate change, your daily weather forecasts and severe weather warning should not have to be on that list.