Weather and Politics
An interesting weather story that I came across on the the web to think on ...and how weather and politics don't always go together.
There is a frustrating story about Dr. Van Heerden in the NY Times who was it seems fired for speaking out about Katrina. It's not politically correct it seems to criticize the government (who knew?) and especially so if you work at a government run school vs a private college. He was Deputy Director of the LSU Hurricane Center.
What I find odd is that I am more upset that for years people had been complaining how unprepared New Orleans was for a levee failure and it was one of the highest rated worst case scenarios yet we waited for it to happen and then tried to figure out how to handle it.
The State of Louisiana seems to have felt it was a problem for the City of New Orleans to deal with (not their problem) and yet... anyone in the Parishes in danger had to be moved to another part of the State of Louisiana so it seems that it was in fact their problem.
A disaster where everyone passed the buck and tried blaming someone else and a professor with a great reputation ends up without a job.
Again... in order to keep one's good government job it seems you are not allowed to speak out on issues that are important but keep your head down, lay low and keep quiet. Sad... very. Some details from the article.
"Now Dr. van Heerden, the former deputy director of the L.S.U. Hurricane Center, is suing the university to get his job back. His lawyers filed a lawsuit in Louisiana state court on Wednesday morning, charging harassment and wrongful termination.
Dr. van Heerden, who was born in South Africa, joined L.S.U. in 1992 and rose to prominence as an expert on storms and the region, becoming a research professor and director of the Center for the Study of Public Health Impacts of Hurricanes."
Now ...why does this bother me?
Because we are at that half way point in the hurricane season and we are going into the 2010 Hurricane Season without the use of QuikSCAT and except for a few obits written by NASA there has been less heard on this topic than there has been heard from the now defunct satellite.
Jeff Masters wrote about it in his excellent blog back in November of 2009.
And, this was no surprise... we knew it was coming. Everyone in the tropical meteorological world knew it was coming. The Director of the NHC a few years ago Bill Proenza complained about the coming loss of QuikSCAT in an article in the Miami Herald and took massive heat for going public with a problem that the government preferred he keep silent on. That of the lack of government funding to replace a dying satellite that was used daily in tropical analysis and forecasting.
Again, if you want to keep your good government job it is preferred you keep your mouth shut and be part of the solution and not discuss the problem. But, how can you get to a solution of a problem if you don't admit there is a problem??
After a long drawn out drama that was highlighted by discussion that he had a problem leading the NHC and it wasn't about his being so outspoken the man who had no problems leading the Southern Command of the NWS was told he had a problem being a leader and working with others. Ummmnnnnn....
He was reassigned, back to the NWS and the new director is a rather wonderful man named Bill Read but the satellite is now not so wonderful and IS DEAD.
Congressman Ron Klein in 2007 asked for a new satellite to be made to replace QuickSCAT. Nothing so far is in the works, in design, up in the air... on the launch pad...
Bill Proenza is happily back at work at the NWS where he seems to have no problems being a director and has many accomplishments to be proud of....
The Satellite is Still Dead... it also had a long list of accomplishments.
So... weather and politics... it's nice to work for the government, lots of good benefits but one of them is not the power of free speech without fear of reprisals.
Choose your jobs carefully. I would hope that Dr. Van Deer finds a nice privately funded Academic job that allows him to speak his mind and continue his work. He is at least alive and kicking which is more than can be said for QuickSCAT.
This coming hurricane season may be active, as we come out of El Nino we often have very active hurricane seasons. It would be nice to have an eye in the sky to help forecasters when storms are forming far beyond the range of hurricane recon.
Amazing considering all the stimulus money that has been doled out of Washington that they could not find any ways to replace QuikScat and help forecasters at the National Hurricane Center with a new eye in the sky.
Just my thoughts.... on weather and politics in 2010.