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Going Off the Fiscal Cliff Could Mean Missing the Next Hurricane Sandy 296

Lasrick writes "Alex Knapp has an excellent article pointing out that NOAA satellites enabled NOAA to predict the 'left hook' of Hurricane Sandy into the Eastern Seaboard, which in turn enabled local governments to prepare. Those satellites are at risk and there will be a gap of about a year between 2017 and 2018, when the old ones fail and the new ones are scheduled to launch. There's no alternative to getting that data, and the so-called 'fiscal cliff' will drive an 8% cut to NOAA's satellite program, so that those replacement satellites may go up even later than 2018."
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Going Off the Fiscal Cliff Could Mean Missing the Next Hurricane Sandy

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  • Europe has our back (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ral ( 93840 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @02:55PM (#42421115)
    Cliff Mass, a University of Washington professor of meteorology, talks about the predictions around hurricane Sandy. He said []:

    ... the best forecasting system for predicting Sandy was not American, rather it was the model of the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF) in Reading, England.

  • truth is in between (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 29, 2012 @03:32PM (#42421307)

    I work for a well-known meteorologic institution & was in 2x/day met briefings for almost a week leading up to Sandy & my recollection is that the euro model certainly predicted the hook first but the other models eventually converged on what ended up happening...

    that was some scary sh** listening to them talk about the projected flooding, etc. I know people think NOAA, news, etc hype up storms & cry wolf a lot but it was obvious at least 3 days out this was the real deal & was going to be big time bad...

  • Here's some ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Okian Warrior ( 537106 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:04PM (#42421521) Homepage Journal

    If you have a better idea, please elaborate. For some reason completely oblivious to you, preparation against catastrophic events costs money.

    Well, then. Let's see what we have here:

    1) Reduce the number of aircraft carriers from 10 (+3 under construction) to 5
    2) Spend less on military [] than the rest of the world combined. Reduce the amount by half.
    3) Stop waging war in Afghanistan. Pull out of Afghanistan entirely and bring our people home.
    4) Stop the war on drugs. Release everyone jailed for non-violent drug-related crime.
    5) Stop the war on immigrants. Allow an easy and expensive path to citizenship. (Note: Our population is declining and we need more taxpayers.)
    6) Stop the war on tourism. Disband homeland security, allow unencumbered and easy travel within the US. Redirect the TSA money away from worthless scanners and put it towards intelligence.

    That's just off the top of my head. Search for "ways the federal government can save money" and get a zillion hits. Google is your friend.

    (Ending Saturday delivery of mail would save an est. $1.7 - $3.1 billion alone. How much did you say those satellites cost?)

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:06PM (#42421537) Homepage Journal
    Statutorily the only way the US governments ability to pay bills can come to an end is by the Feds deciding not to pay bills. The stuff we are paying for has already been bought. What is happening right now is congress saying that the Fed cannot pay for stuff that congress has already purchased. Boenher is driving his Hummer off the lot, while canceling payment on the check, so to speak.Anyone who says the US can't pay it's bills has never read the constituition, which is ironic since many of these people are tea baggers who claimed to have done so. I guess this proves there is a difference between reading and comprehension.

    Furthermore, we have a plan in place to stop deficit spending. While we are calling it a fiscal cliff, it is more like a train approaching from a half mile away. There is time to get out of the way, though not to stop the train. For most people, there are two major issues with the current plan. On is that the income of average people is going to drop by a few hundreds of dollars every month, which means this is money they are no longer have to spend. This is only a problem because due to the Bush era tax cuts and other conservative policy, pay has remained relatively stagnant over the past 10 years. The way to fix this is to encourage pay levels to increase. One way to do this is increase taxes disproportionately on the wealthy and corporations so they have an incentive to pay more to workers, which is not taxed to the employer.

    The other complaint with the current plan is that it hurts the military. Again, the goal should be free market based. We should not be so dependent on the military pay, or federal orders. It should be the consumer that drives the economy. It should not be government contracts that makes boenng one of the largest receivers of the dole in the country. We can choose to become a country of small business owners, entrepreneurs, and corporations that provide extremely well paid jobs to consumers. Or we can continue paying out entitlement to corporations.

    To the matter at hand. As has been said, the feds have a rich set of data from local and other sources that allows it to predict what will happen in terms of atmospheric disturbances. This is not just to predict the odd hurricane. In fact it is used to determine how we as a country can best use our resources to maximize profits. The mistake that many make is that each event is unrelated to anything else. In fact we ideally make decisions based on what will maximize future return. If these storms are going to impact the upper eastern seaboard repeatedly, we need to know. And to know we need data.

    Conservatives tend to be very bad at this. For instance the gov of Texas, Rick Perry. puts very little money in planning and conservation, yet expects things to be paid for when this lack of planning results in a major crisis. Two instance come to mind. First, the last big hurricane on the texas gulf coast resulted in huge power outages that cost huge amounts of money. Lack of planning meant it cost much more than it should, and the rate payers had to pay the price for the lack of planning. Second, lack of forestry maintenance resulted in huge wildfires in texas. While the feds paid for part of it, Perry wanted to be fully compensated, by the US taxpayers for his incompetence. Doesn't seem very fair.

    Yet if hurricanes become a significant threat to the upper east coast, and we allow the status quo, the US taxpayer is going to be in the hole again and again so that the elite can have their barrier island homes. Or we can get better data from better equipment, determine what the risk is, and make an informed choice.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:07PM (#42421547)

    I have a better idea. Stop spending money on stupid shit, and spend it on this instead. We have troops in over 100 countries at the moment. Cut that down to 50 (still ridiculous) and we'd have plenty of money for this program. End farm subsidies. Stop borrowing money so 30cents of every dollar isn't spent on interest anymore. This is a very simple problem, but the governments of the world are so addicted to spending money in the least efficient way possible that they have to invent a crisis like this to try and extort even more money out of us. Going over the "Fiscal cliff" will likely be one of the best things that could happen to this country.

  • by SomeKDEUser ( 1243392 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:11PM (#42421573)

    On others, that is. The fiscal cliff thing is just idiotic: basically, it came about because congress would not agree to pay for the budget it had voted for and set itself an ultimatum so terrifying that it would have to get its collective act together.

    It turns out that the amount of pain the Congress is ready to inflict on random individuals who were just unlucky is very, very large. And this thread is full of crazies thinking it is oh-so-brave to cut funding for weather (they leave far from the hurrican paths), to stop giving money to the unemployed (they themselves have a cushy job they think is entirely due to their hard work), to not give people health care (because cancer/car accidents are the product of bad lifestyle -- always. Also, they themselves have good insurance).

    So maybe the US deserves to go over the cliff and have a good 3 point of GDP recession. After all, the economy is doing so well... Or maybe the American electorate needs to pull the plug on the Republicans and the Libertards. Then the Democracts can be split into a centre right and a centre left party.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:36PM (#42421757)
    Well, the most recent spending boom by the Federal Government was for two badly executed invasions and a bunch "Homeland Security" BS. I agree with you, let's cut out that BS and get back to the 90's.
  • by jasnw ( 1913892 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @04:44PM (#42421783)
    Yes, the USAF has flown polar-orbiting weather satellites since the 1960s (the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, or DMSP). That program is in even worse shape than the NOAA program because of a horrifically run/financed attempt to merge the NOAA and USAF prorgrams (overseen by NASA, the spoiled child of Government science) over the past decade (google NPOESS). The USAF and NOAA systems as they now exist are at most barely compatible and have different goals. There is some overlap, which will undoubtably be used if the NOAA satellites all die and there are still healthy DMSP satellite flying, but that's a thin reed. Also, the USAF has no geostationary weather satellites, which do much of the heavy lifting for hurricane tracking. NOAA runs all of those. The answer for all of this is for Congress to grow up and make some unpopular (with their rabid base) decisions.
  • Re:Here's some ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @05:25PM (#42422055)

    Perhaps, but he does have a point. The US does spent a *ton* of money on the military, and that's a lot of money that wouldn't need to be spent if the US would learn a little diplomacy. The "war on drugs" is a war that can never be won and is a giant clusterfuck of wasted money, and speaking as somebody who used to travel a *lot* in the US, I haven't entered your country at all since 2004 because I don't like the way that travellers are treated: that money has instead been spent in Europe and the Caribbean. While my own dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to overall income, I'm far from the only person who feels this way, and it is making a difference to the US economy.

  • Re:Here's some ideas (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @05:27PM (#42422065) Homepage

    I like carriers as much as the next guy (or 5 of the next guys). However, you've got to put things into perspective and know when enough is enough. We have entire classes of ships that are too small for us to consider carriers but would be considered so by any other Navy on the planet.

    This article has a nice picture that puts things in perspective. []

    Perhaps we can do a swap with England.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 29, 2012 @05:31PM (#42422079)

    > Production has doubled, but wages stayed the same instead of doubling.

    > Measured how, and since when?

    Doubling is the wrong concept. Production in the 20th century increased annually at 2% compounded. Get your data from (the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

    Although not doubling, wages have not kept pace, which has resulted in a linear vs asymptotic (to the wage of the 70's) gap in inequality that widens at an exponential rate. []

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @08:51PM (#42423217)

    Plus, both the President Bush and President Obama Tax cuts were supply side biased, and the Bank/Mortgage bailouts were 100% supply side* Togther these represent 4 really huge commitments to test the theory behind trickle down/supply side and they have failed disasterously every single time. So listening to the people who backed and continue to back supply side at all is like listening to a doctor who still advocates bleeding the patients, shaking rattles at them to drive off evil spirits, and treating Malaria with crocodile dung. Whatever will actually help the economy, it's NOT going to come from the Supply-siders.

    * The tax cuts were biased about 2 to 1 for supply side - that is, economists on all sides of the issue agreed that the individual consumers were together driving about 69 to 70 % of all spending, and NOBODY who studied sales figures came up with another number, but both years tax cuts paid out about 35 % to individual consumers and 65 % to the supply side minority, in the form of accelerated business depreciation. The Mortgage bailouts were very close to 100% supply side - the only way they really could have been demand side was directly paying off bad loans to let people keep their houses. That's what supply side and demand side mean. You know all the right wing guys who are claiming these bailouts are socialist? That they are a bigger problem than the two off-the-books wars? They were also exactly what the right advocated, and got. When some idiots try something four times, for what they themselves have claimed were the four largest single expenditures ever by any nation, and then they themselves claim it made the economy worse in the end, why is anyone still listening to them?

    Note: I'm not claiming here that Keynesians or the real Socialists or any other particular economic theorists are definitely right and have all the answers, but if they are all wrong, at least in part, the supply-siders and trickle-downers and so on are definitively so much more totally wrong, we need some whole new ideas in economics. Deciding, for example, the Keynesians are wrong, without first spending as much as just one of the bailouts or stimuli to test it, and then testing supply side four times without learning anything, is all the proof anyone half rational needs that some of our economists and politicians are quacks at best, brutal, child-destroying, war-mongering monsters at the worst still reasonable interpretation, and criminals by the same sort of standards we would not hesitate to apply to a profession such as engineering or medicine.

  • by Artifakt ( 700173 ) on Saturday December 29, 2012 @09:18PM (#42423353)

    For anyone who thinks domestic spending is the problem - please consider this:
                It is possible to hide military and homeland security spending as black projects. Some of this is known to be hidden in civilian projects. (For example, it was recently revealed that a lot of National Endowment for the Arts spending, from the 50s through 80s or later, was hidden CIA funding for black projects to make the USSR look bad). There are many current examples, such as Dept. of Transportation roads that pass through stateside miltary bases and are heavily developed until the edge of those bases (or at least as far as the tank parking compounds and tank ranges), but are budgeted as being for special access to low income communities on the back sides of those bases (even though they are gravel from the base edge on). There is no evidence ever for a civilian agency being able to hide any funding in the military or security budgets.
              If you look back at cases where people have admitted there exist black projects, there are many where the person has given the impression where the projects are hidden in other parts of the military budget but never has any government representitve openly stated that black projects are always confined to the military side, and there are known counterexamples. Some statements look carefully crafted to give the public the impression black projects aren't hidden in the civil side, without technically lying when testifying to congress.
              It is literally impossible to prove that 'entitlement' or other civiilian side spending is responsible for the current economy, as the general public is not told what part of that entitlement spending is really black projects. It may be possible in theory to prove that even the open record military/security budget is driving the debt, since the real total must be greater, not less, but proving the reverse is impossible without having access to things the general public does not get to see. Anyone who advances the claim is either making it without enough real information to be sure, or has just violated an oath and revealed classified information.

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