Saturday, September 29, 2012

Like Your Weather?

Seriously, it's not a trick question: do you like your weather?

I'm talking to all you I-did-it-all-myself Republicans out there, the ones who think they got no help from the government just because they haven't ever needed (or conveniently forgot that they had) a government-backed business loan, or to go on welfare: do you like your weather?

Is it well-behaved where you live and run your business? The days are sunny, the nights rain politely and on schedule. No droughts requiring either irrigation or crop insurance? No floods requiring FEMA, followed by the Army Corps of Engineers to help prevent the next one from causing so much damage? No unseasonal snow storms upsetting traffic so you can't ship to meet your on-time demands? No heavy snow loads caving in your warehouse roofs? No icy roads sending your trucks jackknifing all over the place? No hail storms to ruin crops and roofs and shatter windows? No heavy straight line winds? No tornadoes? How about hurricaines?

So if your weather isn't always polite and cooperative, don't you at least want to know about it ahead of time so you can make plans?

Ever heard of GOES 13? It's job is supposed to be to help you know about the weather ahead of time. It's one of NOAA's  weather satellites. Or was. A few days ago reports were that it had crashed. Now they're talking about technical problems. So it's still up there, in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic and the east coast. You know, an area that tends to have a lot of major weather events that affect the country. But we're not getting the data from it. And there's no plan to send a mission up and fix it. There's this little thing called a budget that just doesn't have any extra room in it because cutting is all the rage these days, because, hey, government is useless, right? And there's another little issue about a thing called space shuttles that we've outsourced to the Russians because space is expensive and - again - useless, right?

So if they can fix GOES 13 at all, it'll have to be from the ground.

Good luck with that.

And hey, I'm sure there will never be another hurricane heading in from the Atlantic and turning up along the east coast, so no worries, mate.

For the immediate future, GOES 14 can be moved into position if they can't fix 13. At least there's one in reserve. But we're not sending any more up. Not in the budget. And they do fail. They will all eventually slow down and crash. And then what? We can't make and send more up on a moment's notice because somebody finally decided there was need.

Buy hey, Mr. I-did-it-all-myself, you did this yourself before too, right? And you can do it all again, right? Because it doesn't take the collective to put up a weather satellite, it takes individual initiative. You go right ahead and start planning your next weather satellite, because if government isn't going to be able to do it, and/or shouldn't by your philosophy, somebody needs to.

Surely you didn't think we're going to outsource that to the Chinese?

No comments: