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Weather Satellites Lose Funding

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the time-to-get-a-job-you-lazy-satellites dept.

Earth 275

ianare writes "Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the US without some critical satellites, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth's poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator. These satellites are 'the backbone' of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA's deputy administrator. It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. 'With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up,' she says."

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275 comments

The satellites will still be there, just listen in (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487182)

Ham radio enthusiasts have been doing this forever. Point your favorite directional antenna at a weather satellite and download today's weather fax. Not that difficult.

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487228)

Ham radio enthusiasts have been doing this forever. Point your favorite directional antenna at a weather satellite and download today's weather fax. Not that difficult.

Not that difficult if you have $5000 worth of equipment and 200 hours of spare time to devote to it. Once you have that, it's easy.

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (1)

JustinRLynn (831164) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487258)

In a world where communications media allow only one person with $5000 worth of equipment to share that equipment with people who have all the spare time (and there are lots, just look at us for an example) it'll be pretty much the same as before (visit a website, here's your data).

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487356)

On what planet does a directional antenna and a radio receiver cost $5000?! Use a Yagi-Uda or helical antenna for anything below 1GHz, and an old 2m satellite TV dish (which you can often find for free if you're willing to haul it away) for anything over.

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (2)

NoMaster (142776) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487786)

Well, a couple of hundred bucks plus a fairly lo-noise receiving location with space for a small turnstile or crossed dipole antenna will do it.

But regardless, what your $200 (or $5000) gets you is the APT transmissions - a low-res 1 or 2 channel image which bears about as much relationship to the images the weather bureau uses for forecasting as YouTube does to Bluray...

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487276)

Can ham radio enthusiasts also put satellites into polar orbit to replace the ones that fail?

Re:The satellites will still be there, just listen (3, Informative)

MacTO (1161105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487358)

Radio amateurs have been designing, building, and launching satellites for years. (Well, they contract out the launching.) It is called AMSAT.

Maybe Corporate America Should Loose Up the Purse? (2)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487298)

Ham radio enthusiasts have been doing this forever.

This may be so. But...

There are a *LOT* of big-time commercial orgs that make use of government funded weather sats. Maybe it's time that some of the Big Money Bags that make bank off of publicly funded things like the National Weather Service started ponying up a little cash-ola?

Re:Maybe Corporate America Should Loose Up the Pur (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487414)

There are a *LOT* of big-time commercial orgs that make use of government funded weather sats.

And lots and LOTS of small-time commercial orgs, non-commercial orgs, and individuals who make use of government-funded weather satellites.

Which is why it should be supported by taxpayer money.

Here in the US we're paying less taxes than we have in the past 60 years. During the "Reagan Recovery" (sic) we were paying about 15 percent more across the board and the top tiers were paying more than that. Corporations were paying almost twice as much forty years ago than they do today.

I would say that the National Weather Service is exactly the kind of thing that a 21st century government should be doing.

And I'm a bit offended by the verbiage in the title of this story. The Weather Service did not "lose" funding as if they had it in their pants pocket and misplaced it, their funding was systematically and purposely cut by the members of a particular political party in power because the National Weather Service is a successful government agency and "successful" and "government" in the same sentence goes against that party's core ideology. They hate government, possibly because they are so bad at it.

Now watch for Congress to try to privatize the Weather Service by selling off the polar satellites to big corporations who will then offer weather forecasting and data in four tiers: 1 timely information for themselves. 2 delayed accurate information for those that pay for it. 3 accurate information for the military, but only if the military pay about 200% more than the US government currently would pay to fully fund the whole program itself, and 4 delayed information for the rest of us, and only as accurate as they want it to be to best suit their agenda. (for example, if there were a heavily Democrat-leaning city on a gulf coast protected only by an out-of-date levee, they might want to wait a while before sending out the alert. After all, if there was a major flood and subsequent demographic upheaval in that place, scattering the concentration of Democratic voters as far as Idaho and Montana, it can only help the country, right?)

Not many people are aware of just how far certain politicians currently in office and the people they work for are willing to go to push their ideology, and practically none of us overestimate their capacity for inflicting pain on the population.

Re:Maybe Corporate America Should Loose Up the Pur (0, Troll)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487490)

>>Here in the US we're paying less taxes than we have in the past 60 years.

Wrong. Don't confuse the maximum marginal tax rate (which used to go up to 91%) with the actual amount of taxes paid per dollar of GDP. Hauser found (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hauser%27s_Law) that no matter what the tax rates are set to, we pay around 20% of our GDP in taxes. If you're talking about the recent dip due to the recession, you might be able to make an argument there, but the long term trend is actually pretty clear:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/75/U.S._Federal_Tax_Receipts_as_a_Percentage_of_GDP_1945%E2%80%932015.jpg [wikimedia.org]

The federal government takes in plenty of money from taxes. The problem is that they spend too much. I suggest even, across the board, cuts to balance the budget. No partisanship, just chop the budget by whatever percentage excess they had the year before.

Re:Maybe Corporate America Should Loose Up the Pur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487606)

Let's raise the rates back up to 1970 levels and see what would happen then.

The problem is we subsidize oil companies, but not healthy school lunches to prevent obesity. We have military bases we don't need instead of funding scientific research that isn't profitable, but needed.

They can put the satellite in "the cloud" (3, Funny)

SpaceCracker (939922) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487188)

it's supposed to be cheaper.

[Just watch out for Amazon cloud crashes... ;-) ]

Re:They can put the satellite in "the cloud" (3, Funny)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487314)

This will never work. The Amazon is nowhere near the poles !

Re:They can put the satellite in "the cloud" (3, Funny)

inpher (1788434) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487454)

Then they should use Apple's iCloud, it's all white and glossy, like the poles.

Why not? (1)

lostfayth (1184371) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487190)

Perhaps someone with a little more knowledge in this area can explain why these aren't a joint venture between multiple countries or why there is no alternative to these specific satellites. A single point of funding/failure for a system like this just seems silly.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487218)

If these are the satellites that I'm thinking of, this would be very bad indeed. There isn't any inherent reason why the US needs to be the only ones with satellites doing this work, but the reason it's being cut is to appease climate change skeptics. And unless the ESA or somebody else gets satellites up there to prevent a potential gap in recordings we'll largely have to start over.

From the article, we're not the only ones with those sorts of satellites, there apparently aren't enough of them to fill the gap that we'd be leaving.

Re:Why not? (2, Insightful)

Richy_T (111409) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487240)

Nonsense. The reason it's being cut is there's less money around to pay for stuff and it's easier to cut spending on satellites than over-funded "think of the children" schools and other stuff that money is wasted on but is considered untouchable.

Re:Why not? (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487376)

Tornadoes kill and injure children! And leave them homeless. We have to be able to predict tornadoes to protect children! Think of the children!

Re:Why not? (1, Funny)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487686)

Republicans don't care about children after they are born. However, if you mention that bad weather forecasts might drive up abortions - you'll get funds in a nanosecond.

Re:Why not? (1, Insightful)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487742)

And Democrats dont think of children before they are born.

Huh? (1, Informative)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487800)

Before they are born they aren't children. Of course, reality is too complicated for someone who actually believe in invisible spooks in the sky.

Re:Why not? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487220)

Because we're America, damnit! If it were an international thing, we wouldn't have the control that we demand. We would also want first dibs on the data and the ability to edit it - ain't gonna happen with an international satellite.

Re:Why not? (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487252)

I'm not an expert, so others can add a lot to this, but here are some reasons I've heard of from the government in the past.
Those satellites are expensive high-tech toys that a lot of countries either can't make or afford.
Launching them is also expensive and few of the countries that can afford them even have launching facilities.
The data from those satellites is valuable for military purposes, and always suspected of spying by everyone else.
The ground stations for those things tend to be expensive as well.
How many redundant and mega expensive systems can you get your country to deploy?

That's pretty much all the reasons I've heard from various gov sites over the decades, and I'm sure it's all still valid, and only a fraction of the reasons out there.

Re:Why not? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487290)

Data is usually shared. But the US always had the biggest budget and since the data is provided to international partners, no one has incentives to share the burden. Much like the NATO.

Source:
Myself, user of this kind of data, without a single drop of American blood in my veins.

Re:Why not? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487380)

There are well established international treaties governing the various responsibilities for collecting meteorological data, including access to each others satellite data.

Because the US is not the only one running these.

Re:Why not? (5, Informative)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487402)

There are plenty of joint ventures for weather satellite projects (JASON 3 being the current most visible project underway) as well as data sharing from foreign satellite programs to the US (MetOp for example), but basically it all comes down to money. We can afford to build them. NOAA has a long history of operating these polar orbiting satellites. The program under discussion here was called NPOESS. It was a joint project with DoD and it was more or less a complete disaster - after a decade and $11B spent, no satellite was ever launched, and the ground systems have been sitting idle for so long they're due for a technology refresh. So the White House blew up the program [spacenews.com] and NOAA took the valuable pieces and it became JPSS. So the budget cuts are a sort of "punishment" for mismanagement - basically Congress wants them to get the damn birds up already.

Someone mod this up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487564)

So who planted the NPR story, Northrup?

Re:Why not? (1)

Caraig (186934) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487720)

Interesting. From what I'm reading, this is not a partisan cut at all, but rather axing a program that has shown absolutely no results in the time its been running. In that case, it absolutely should be axed.

Re:Why not? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487510)

It's the Republican response to global climate change. If we close our eyes it'll all go away. No data, no worries.

Re:Why not? (1)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487748)

Its the Democrat response to deficit spending, if we close our eyes it'll all go away.

Funny (1)

publiclurker (952615) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487808)

I'm pretty sure that the handouts to the rich which caused the recent problems were not done by a Democrat. then again, I wouldn't expect a neocon to ever man up to the truth when there are corporations and their profits to whore for.

Re:Why not? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487616)

Military application. Weather is very important for things like routing strategic bombers and reconnaissance aircraft flying across north pole into former Soviet Union.

Now (1, Offtopic)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487192)

We just have to wait for Nancy Pelosi to come and say it will be cheaper to clean up the damage [cnsnews.com] than to fund the satellites.

Re:Now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487208)

The war on drugs is a huge waste of money and time -- the world lost. People just want to get high, so let them and tax the hell out of it.

Re:Now (-1, Offtopic)

PNutts (199112) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487232)

Conversely, we could take the Republican route to defund things and leave it up to each state to decide.

Re:Now (0)

murdocj (543661) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487386)

Better yet, we could give the rich another tax break on the assumption that they will take the extra money and put up a few weather satellites.

Re:Now (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487312)

Or alternatively, just let the US default on its loans. That will solve a lot of problems like this, because people will be too preoccupied with an even deeper economic collapse to worry about little things like today's weather.

I'm sure private industry will step in and replace them.

(LAWL)

Astounding (-1, Flamebait)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487390)

What a fucking stretch there, dunbai. I guess you'd have to be a head-crushing dumbass to make the leap from "treating drug use is cheaper than the drug war" to this.

But, I suppose no idiocy is too fucking stupid for someone like you to manufacture out of your partisanship.

Re:Astounding (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487578)

Yeah, I am "partisan". Dude I am not even a US citizen, I don't live in the US, but am forced to watch "americentric" news. This is what you get. Honestly I think that Americans only have room in their heads for two political parties and both of them suck. But then again, we get the governments we deserve. How's that for "partisan"? Pelosi is a dumbass, regardless of party.

Re:Now (0)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487400)

"Incarceration is the next cheapest,” Pelosi continued. “It costs seven times more to incarcerate than to have treatment on demand. It costs 15 times more to interdict at the border. And it costs 25 times more with eradication of the cocoa leaf. This is an issue that it is very important to our country because of what it’s doing to our teenagers. That is the problem, what it is doing to our people."

Clearly, she's insane.

Re:Now (2, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487592)

You do realize defunding the National Weather Service and turning to ostensibly private organizations such as AccuWeather (which unsurprisingly gets 90% of its data from the NWS, and thus essentially serves as nothing but a middle man) has been a long time goal of the Republican party.

And heaven forbid someone actually examine the cost-benefit ratio of a government program to determine whether or not that it is actually effective.

No. Of course not. Facts have no place in your worldview. It's just cheerleading.

Re:Now (3, Informative)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487814)

"has been a long time goal of the Republican party" Do you have a reference for this?

One has to wonder (0)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487202)

How many fighter bombers would have to be decommissioned to pay for them?

Defence is one thing, being the number one spender, by far, on the military on earth is something else entirely.

Re:One has to wonder (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487348)

How many fighter bombers would have to be decommissioned to pay for them?

Defence is one thing, being the number one spender, by far, on the military on earth is something else entirely.

I'm guessing one*. F-18 Hornets cost $80 million per plane. The proposed NOAA budget cut is $57 million. There are 128 of these craft on order. So just buy 127 and NOAA can keep its budget levels intact.

*You're not actually going to save much decommissioning them. But you can cut back on how many you buy year to year.

Re:One has to wonder (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487422)

You would save bunches decommissioning them. They have to be fueled, maintained, and kept ready. That stuff ain't cheap.

I suggest we order 126 and decommission a couple more. That should get us a couple spare satellites.

Re:One has to wonder (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487574)

Hrm. Reminds me of all the hubbub over Hubble, when in fact there are 25 Hubbles pointed down at the earth. I know Al Capone said walk softly and carry a big stick, but then again he was a syphillitic madman.

Re:One has to wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487590)

How many fighter bombers would have to be decommissioned to pay for them?

Defence is one thing, being the number one spender, by far, on the military on earth is something else entirely.

I'm guessing one*. F-18 Hornets cost $80 million per plane. The proposed NOAA budget cut is $57 million. There are 128 of these craft on order. So just buy 127 and NOAA can keep its budget levels intact.
 

Except that's not really how appropriations like that work. They're floating price targets, more or less. Chop the order to 127 and the price of those 127 all go up--usually by something only slightly less than what you'd "save" by not ordering that one you cut. Eg, if you "save" $80M by cutting one, the aggregate price increase for the others would be ~$70M, and you only end up actually PAYING $10M less, while getting one less than you originally wanted.

Check out the numbers for the F-22, F-35, and B-2 to see this in action. The contractors need to make $X to cover their R&D and production costs (as well as profit margin, of course!) and will tend to get something pretty close to $X no matter how many units they actually deliver.

comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487222)

comcast / weather channel has the funds to have there own weather satellites.

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487286)

comcast / weather channel has the funds to have there own weather satellites.

And when seen in that light, this article is just really about the privatization of weather forecasting, which the Republicans have been pushing for for years.

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (2)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487334)

This article is nothing more than a troll from NASA to scare people into thinking that if they don't get ALL their funding, people will die in blizzards and tornadoes.

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (4, Insightful)

mean pun (717227) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487432)

This article is nothing more than a troll from NASA to scare people into thinking that if they don't get ALL their funding, people will die in blizzards and tornadoes.

Or perhaps NASA is right to complain: people WILL die if they have to stop running those satellites?

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487484)

NASA will get their funding for the Sats.

  This is just bureaucratic games

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487560)

Pretty sure they're like Accu-weather and the rest.. they get the raw data from the satellites/NOAA/NWS and make their own interpretations.

Re:comcast / weather channel has the funds to have (2)

rainmayun (842754) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487452)

comcast / weather channel has the funds to have there own weather satellites.

False.

Pentagon Pegs New Cost Estimate For NPOESS At $11.5 Billion [aviationweek.com]
"The Pentagon's latest cost estimate for the scaled-back National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program is $11.5 billion through 2020"

Lockheed Martin Lands $1 Billion Weather Satellite Contract [spacenews.com]
"The GOES-R system — whose total estimate life-cycle cost is $7.7 billion — will replace the GOES-N satellite series"

These are the two major NOAA weather satellite programs under current development. For comparison, check out Comcast's current market cap [google.com] : $65B. No way in hell they'd undertake a risky $7-10B investment for a single cable channel requiring expertise in satellite design, construction, launch & operations that they don't have.

Weather controll Satalites (0, Offtopic)

sm4096 (1104499) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487284)

They didn't predict the storms so much as cause them. If we let them send up more satellites they can get back on schedule for destroying the world in 2012. Due to budget restrictions, delays and the housing market crash they already missed the judgement day deadline. Skynet is going to build itself. If we don't hurry up there won't be any more films about the US building doomsday devices because they just will not be believable. Everyone will know the Chinese will build them first. Most of our students and potential mad scientists already come from abroad. We have to do this while we still can otherwise we will just become irrelevant and depend on other countries for dictating the future of humanity.

Got our priorities straight! (5, Insightful)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487320)

So let me get this straight. We're paying billions upon billions and sacrificing our constitutional rights to guard our airports from purely theoretical terrorist threats. Meanwhile, we're cutting funding for satellites that warn us about very real weather threats. Glad to see we've got our priorities straight.

Re:Got our priorities straight! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487384)

I'm the first to bitch about the terrorism thing being absurdly overblown, but they're hardly a "purely theoretical" threat. We've caught more than one trying to board planes. Though as I'm sure you know, those people were ridiculously hapless.

Re:Got our priorities straight! (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487430)

Which ones were those?
The only ones I have heard of were the one the passengers stopped. Tornadoes killed over 100 people this year, terrorists on US planes 0.

Re:Got our priorities straight! (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487658)

Calculate the number of people dying from terrorist attacks, compare to number of people dying from natural disasters, compare the funding.

Is it me or is there something off the mark?

Re:Got our priorities straight! (1)

bondsbw (888959) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487766)

Your statement actually implies that the TSA is doing very well at their job, because increased funding is correlated with lack of terrorist-related deaths.

That said... I totally agree with you that the TSA sucks and really isn't worth it. Correlation/causation and all that. Just came to say, your justification does not make for a sound argument.

Re:Got our priorities straight! (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487428)

Of course tornadoes never attack airports... (Other than the one that hit Lambert Field in St. Louis a month or so ago.)

Re:Got our priorities straight! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487572)

Of course tornadoes never attack airports... (Other than the one that hit Lambert Field in St. Louis a month or so ago.)

Well, see, you've made the case for Homeland Security. Thanks to our enhanced security infrastructure, we can pretty much guarantee that particular tornado will NEVER strike again!

Re:Got our priorities straight! (0)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487450)

we're cutting funding for satellites that warn us about very real weather threats.

Maybe that's what the GOP doesn't like? These satellites keep collecting that pesky data on global warming. Obviously, their reasoning might go, if the satellites are collecting data that's FALSE and LIES that interferes with the operation of the free market, they don't need to be funded with our* tax dollars.

*our meaning the folks who pay taxes, not the big energy companies, they don't pay taxes because if they did they wouldn't be able to continue creating jobs.

Re:Got our priorities straight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487504)

You see these sorts of stories any time budget cuts come up. OF COURSE someone is using the bloody program.... Otherwise the money wouldnt be being spent.

*ALL* programs need to be on the table. The second anyone said 'hold on a min we need to keep x, y, and z. Oh and we can cherry pick programs a, b, and c' It became a political football. Instead of '40% across the board' And at a min a 5% increase in taxes to pay for the overage we already have...

None of that happened and it became 'we are stealing from the children and you dont steal from children do you?' So nothing will happen and entire programs will be 100% defunded while others grow.

stop building overseas and take care of us locals? (0)

bjdevil66 (583941) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487340)

We can give hundreds of billions to the poor around the world, but we can't buy a satellite to watch the weather? How about we not build a few of those bridges we've built in Baghdad or something? Or maybe have those countries pay us back for some of the infrastructure we rebuilt from scratch? Hell - you can even deduct the value of the old infrastructure after some depreciation... Or maybe we could launch one or two fewer spy satellites? Hell - I bet that the interest on the debt we've borrowed over the last five years would cover a LOT of satellites... What a mess...

Re:stop building overseas and take care of us loca (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487410)

To be fair we probably did blow up those bridges to begin with.

How about we have less wars and buy satellites with the saved money? I bet cutting that "War on Drugs" would buy more than one satellite.

Yay less science! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487342)

Excellent! With all those space cloud cameras gone, we'll be able to return to the proper, insurance-friendly version of "acts of god"!
I can't wait for heavy rain to invalidate my protections because god, and not monsoon season, hates me!

gah (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487346)

Because funding the occupation of other countries is FAAAAAARRRRR more important than weather monitoring.

Fuck you america, fuck you.

Cause of shortfall? (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487354)

If people are still paying taxes and the population size hasn't become smaller, what is the cause of these budget shortages? Is the military getting more, are there more anti-terror branches, high politician salaries, are we sponsoring private firms, or what?

I am not an economist so beyond what the media says, I would be interested in some insight.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (1)

WormRunner (18159) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487404)

The problem is that people are not paying taxes, or rather that the people with the most money are paying a lot less in taxes than they used to.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487424)

Because the USofA has been over-spending for several decades and the accumulating interest payments are finally catching up.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487462)

Don't forget that taxes are lower than they were during the Reagan Era. About 15% less for most, and an even more generous cut for the rich.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (-1, Troll)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487758)

Also dont forget that half of America doesnt pay income tax at all. Land of the free and such, as long as you are riding on the backs of the rich

Re:Cause of shortfall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487464)

People paying less taxes because less are working and those who are working are often making less wages whether it's because of pay freezes essentially making you lose money because of inflation or because displaced workers are working at less than 100% of their pay rate a few years back. I know a few people who are making less than 50% of what they made at old jobs they got laid off from. While they're still on their feet they aren't spending like they use to. These 30-somethings making a good buck who had already established a home were making big ticket purchases because they felt the had crossed the finish line and they could coast it out until retirement. Which brings us to another condition; people working to pay off debts and hide away money because of recent economic woes. This slowdown in the flow of cash is going to lessen tax monies because the economy depends on people spending money. When you're paying back old debt or keeping it in your bank/shoe box, you're decreasing the amount that cash gets taxes.

Despite what the media says, for most people the economy hasn't recovered and spending habits are proving this. This will cause an economic slump that the economy can't afford but the public can't afford not to be conservative in these times. It's a big old catch 22.

But, alas, I don't think this is the place to cut funding. I'm off to write to my congress critters and let them know my mind. I'd much rather see the production of government cheese come to a halt. Science and industry could produce jobs but no one (and I do mean *no one*, I don't give a fuck what party you belong to) in the position of power has the balls to do what is needed so that this turns into a win-win situation. And guess who's going to suffer because of it?

Vote 'em all out 2012.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487494)

If people are still paying taxes and the population size hasn't become smaller, what is the cause of these budget shortages? Is the military getting more, are there more anti-terror branches, high politician salaries, are we sponsoring private firms, or what?

I am not an economist so beyond what the media says, I would be interested in some insight.

Tax revenues are at their lowest level since the Great Depression. Back in the heyday of American growth and dominance (WWII - mid-70's), the top tax bracket was over 70%, now it's 35% and capital gains are only taxed at 15%. The top 10% of earners take home 42% of earnings, and their taxes keep getting lower. Compound that with massive government expenses due to the recession (unemployment insurance and Medicaid) and a much smaller tax base due to so many people being out of work, and the result is an enormous shortfall in tax revenue.

We as a country have to decide what kind of a place we want America to be. If we want to have senior citizens not starve to death, safe infrastructure, funding for basic research, and an educated populace, those things cost money and we should man up and pay for it. Tax cuts are not actually the answer to every government problem, and we need to pay for what we want. Though, to be fair, ending our current obsession with military adventurism and for-profit healthcare would solve all of our financial problems and then some. (Remember, 64% of government spending is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/2011/02/the_us_government_an_insurance.html )

Re:Cause of shortfall? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487636)

When people lose jobs they move from paying taxes to collecting unemployment. In a somewhat oversimplified way, if you go from 5% unemployment to 10%, your outlays have increased not a 5% increase in government spending, much more than that, a couple of percent of GDP, and your revenue has fallen by 5%.

Then you have extra spending, for things like bailouts, stimulus (some of which essentially comes out of the unemployment insurance you're paying) and so on.

Oh, and all the while because companies are making less money, employees aren't getting as many raises etc. (even though government employees and contracts will have raises in their contracts from before the contraction), so corporations and people aren't paying as much in taxes.

The net effect for the US is that spending went up a bit, from something like 22 to 25% of GDP, where revenue when down, from about 17 or 18 to about 15%. And suddenly you go from having a deficit of 4% of GDP (which was about 450-500 billion dollars a year) due to unnecessary tax cuts and irresponsible borrowing, to having a deficit of close to 10% of GDP - (which is about 30% of the budget).

Importantly though, where I am in canada, we went from 0% deficit (with a mild surplus) to ~4 or 5% of GDP deficit, just like the US. The situation in the US is magnified because of the various cut taxes and increase spending policies before the 2008 recession.

The question of what to cut is not simple. The government signs contracts in many cases years in advance for things. Take the example of the two new british aircraft carriers - for companies to build them required certain commitments that they wouldn't go bankrupt building all the stuff needed for these ships. So the UK government is committed to buy these aircraft carriers, that is to say, they wrote into the contract penalties and so on if one side backs out they have to pay, a lot. In the end it's cheaper for them to finish buying the carriers than to cancel the contracts (note there is politics here that in writing the contract they want to ensure the ship gets built even if someone else comes into office) . The US is the same way. Sign a 5 year deal with Boeing or dell for aircraft and computers and you're stuck paying for it, even if the economy tanks (that does have the benefit of keeping all those people employed however). Because of these contracts you can't just cut whatever, even if you wanted to. The big deal in the US is medicare, medicaid and defence, which are, by law, entitlement programmes the US cannot just not fund. http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/#usgs302a has neat info graphics. There's a lot on there that's very hard to be rid of.

Re:Cause of shortfall? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487680)

People are not paying taxes, that's actually the problem. The middle class is being eliminated, poor people have no money to pay tax with and the rich get tax exemption.

Where do you think the money should come from?

Pffft. (0)

jonadab (583620) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487364)

If they're the ones used for forecasts more than two days into the future, I'm in favor of cutting the funding. We're not getting any practical use out of them. Three-day weather forecasts aren't significantly more precise or accurate than what you can get from the farmer's almanacs, or what any intelligent, observant person who's lived in the area for a few years can tell you by virtue of what month it is.

The one-day forecasts ("What's it going to do tomorrow?") are occasionally useful (if, like, you're planning to visit the Big Room and want to know what it'll be like out there -- obviously if you stay indoors all the time it's somewhat less critical). I'm willing to continue funding the one-day forecasts. The two-day forecasts are pretty marginal, but I *might* be talked into continued funding for them, arguably, on the grounds that maybe with enough more decades of practice the meteorologists will get better enough that the accuracy might improve.

But the three-day and five-day ones are just pointless. Forget the satellites and just roll some dice. It won't have any impact on the accuracy.

Re:Pffft. (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487442)

I see you don't work in a weather sensitive industry.

Especially the heavy duty construction industry regularly needs to be able to plan ahead for several days.

Re:Pffft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487444)

You're an idiot. These satellites save people's lives. I live in tornado alley, and I'm not about to start trusting the shadow off a donkey's balls to tell if I'm in the path of a supercell.

I'm sorry that you don't understand science, and that your opinion on current meteorology is whatever your grandparents told you.

Re:Pffft. (1)

mean pun (717227) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487508)

Three-day weather forecasts aren't significantly more precise or accurate than what you can get from the farmer's almanacs, or what any intelligent, observant person who's lived in the area for a few years can tell you by virtue of what month it is.

The weather forecast community is claiming that they do far better than that. If you disagree, you'd better back it up with some credible arguments.

God is all knowing (-1, Flamebait)

paiute (550198) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487412)

Tornado Alley is in the Bible Belt. Citizens of those states should just go outside and stand with head bowed as a tornado approaches. Jesus will save you if you are worthy.

Re:God is all knowing (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487520)

I live in Kansas. I noticed that all of the subtly racist vitriol against "those people" stupid enough to live in a hurricane zone has been remarkably silent as tornadoes ravage the Midwest and the victims beg the rest of the country for assistance.

Re:God is all knowing (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487586)

I live in Kansas. I noticed that all of the subtly racist vitriol against "those people" stupid enough to live in a hurricane zone has been remarkably silent as tornadoes ravage the Midwest and the victims beg the rest of the country for assistance.

Apparently, looking on the grandparent post - that subtly racist vitriol has been supplanted by not-so-subtly bigoted anti-bible-belt vitriol.

Re:God is all knowing (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487600)

I don't see that at all. He suggested they turn to their faith if they did not want to pay for science.

Re:God is all knowing (1)

rodarson2k (1122767) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487646)

I've recently moved back to kansas, and i've been stricken by exactly how MUCH emphasis the weather forecasters put on their SCIENCE. It seems like every local news weather team promo is basically just an advertisement for science. "Local news team weather uses Science science science science science. Channel X Science team weather science predicts weather with science. Science!"

It made me want to make my own competing god-based weather forecasting service. It should sell well here, right???

Of course not. Even a bible-thumper will use science when it comes to doing something in the real world.

NOAA survey (1)

Naurgrim (516378) | more than 2 years ago | (#36487474)

NOAA is currently seeking submissions to a survey of how they are doing. If you like their stuff, as I do, please go to the survey [cfigroup.com] and give them an honest review.

It's not the government's job (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487478)

I don't see "predicting the weather" as one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Goobermint anyway. The Federal Government is not allowed to do anything not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution. Those powers are reserved to the States, or the People.

Geez...maybe it time... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487514)

to privatize the government.
Something tells me free enterprise will determine if there is a market all the 'functions' the government is serving; from satellite programs to saving the snail darters...just sayin'

More than just weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487526)

The polar orbiting satellites carry COSPAS-SARSAT emergency beacon receivers. So do geostationary satellites, but the polar orbiting satellites are the only ones which can determine beacon location (using Doppler shift) from beacons that do not provide a GPS data signal. There is much more than pretty weather images for local news, these satellites provide a wide range of information, service and redundancy.

the free market (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487670)

It's okay everyone, don't panic. The free market ferry will step in and take care of this for us, right? Right?

"five days" huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487732)

It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. 'With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up,' she says.

Well thank god for that five days' heads up, lives and properties would have been lost otherwise.

Might be better off buying a used storm chaser Doppler radar off ebay if you are trying to detect tornadoes. Especially since the satellite won't have a view of the tornado belt of continental USA most of the time.

More on why this is happening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36487792)

The article mostly talked about why these satellites are important. For info on why the polar sats are delayed this article has the skinny: http://www.spacenews.com/civil/100202-white-house-dissolves-npoess-satellite-partnership.html
I assume the current article is more about jockeying between agencies and contractors than anything else.

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