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

timothy posted about a year ago | from the it's-all-so-simple dept.

Government 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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296 comments

North Korea (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420929)

Just ask Kim YoungOne for some data from the North Korean satellites. They will clearly be ahead of NASA by then! :-)

Re:North Korea (-1, Troll)

coastwalker (307620) | about a year ago | (#42421143)

I'm looking forward to how you folk get on without government once you have risen up with all those guns you love and killed all of them. I imagine the super rich will be laughing in their gated compounds. But I dont give great odds for the ordinary scum. Should be a laugh watching it on live tv though. A bit like Syria on youtube, but in english.

Re:North Korea (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42421297)

Wow - you may want to ease up on that koolaid - it'll rot your teeth as well as your brain.

PS: Watching what live on TV? If there were an actual governmental overthrow (outside of your fevered dreams, that is), I doubt you'd be laughing, or watching television.

Re:North Korea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421417)

Watching what live on TV? If there were an actual governmental overthrow (outside of your fevered dreams, that is), I doubt you'd be laughing, or watching television.

This might be shocking news to you but the world is larger then your US america.
And there are actually people there too.

I'm reasonably sure I would be watching it on TV too, happy.

Re:North Korea (1)

BotnetZombie (1174935) | about a year ago | (#42421543)

I'm reasonably sure I would be watching it on TV too, but hard times for the public in USA (or Syria) don't make me happy.

Same tired argument from government bureaucrats... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420953)

Give us more money, or people die.

FTFY (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about a year ago | (#42421037)

Give us more money.

Re:FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421095)

I just dumped all my TSP into Gov Bonds - until after this cliff thingy happens and the Dow settles down.

Re:FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421125)

Let's see, you've heavily invested in government bonds at a time when the government is about to default on all it's debts. Good strategy there. Government bonds are a loan you've made to the government and if they default on their loans, you're left with nothing.

Re:FTFY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421519)

You're an idiot. Shut the fuck up.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about a year ago | (#42421105)

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

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (3, Funny)

carnaby_fudge (2789633) | about a year ago | (#42421197)

Buy guns, they are durable goods that won't loose value if they are maintained or properly stored. Then you can either sell them to all the evil rich people left in their gated compounds or use the guns to lay siege to the rich bastards and just take all their stuff :-)

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421313)

What are you going to do, shoot at the hurricanes? I mean, sure they do have "eyes", but, well, you're going to be dissapointed. And wet.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (5, Insightful)

otterpop81 (784896) | about a year ago | (#42421361)

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

The problem I have is that when times are good, governments spend the excess on crap, and then when it comes time to make cuts, they whine about how they'll have to cut essential services. We see it all the time with local governments as property taxes fluctuate. When revenues are down they say they have to cut police and fire departments and teachers, but there's never any talk about cutting what was _added_ during the fat years. We always had teachers and police and fire departments during the previous lean years, so what's the problem with going back to how it was?

We're seeing the same thing on the federal level, the difference being that there haven't been good times (ie: surplus) in over a decade. Replace "good times" with "when we're borrowing even more from China."

We had money to fund NOAA before the current people in charge borrowed more money than all previous administrations combined, why can't we go back to that? I think that's what the GP is getting at.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42421363)

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

Preparation against catastrophic events?
So these satellites are able to turn back the storm, and prevent damage?

If they are so essential, why is there ALREADY a planned one year satellite gap?
Did they shut down the Hurricane Hunters [wikipedia.org] as well?

Look, its obvious that this is a posturing scare tactic, but if you can't see that and are content to be whip-sawed by bureaucratic scare mongering, just call your congressman and tell him to knuckle under and tax you more.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (4, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#42421421)

Preparation against catastrophic events? So these satellites are able to turn back the storm, and prevent damage?

Preparation in this case means 'early warning'

The idea is that if people are notified of the risk of a storm striking earlier, they will have more time to prepare, and therefore: their preparations will be more effective, and thus damage will be reduced.

It won't be true in all cases -- sometimes the 'early warning' may be ignored, because it hasn't shown to be reliable. Also, the NOAA makes predictions, and predictions that far in advance have some inherent uncertainty, due to technological limitations and limitations of the science, modelling, and statistical techniques used in weather prediction.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (5, Informative)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42421513)

If they are so essential, why is there ALREADY a planned one year satellite gap?

You're operating under the flawed assumption that congress has the public's best interest in mind. There was no PLANNED one year satellite gap, you fucking fool.

Here, from June, 2012: [federaltimes.com]

Congressional budget cutting will delay the launch of a key weather satellite and hinder tracking of killer hurricanes, tornadoes and other severe weather, officials warn.

The satellite, which had been scheduled to launch in 2016, will be postponed 18 months because of spending cuts and delays. The threat during that gap is that National Weather Service forecasts will become fuzzier, with the paths of hurricanes and tornadoes even less predictable.

With more budget cuts looming, further delays are possible — something President Obama alluded to last week. ...

"There will be a data gap. That data gap will have very serious consequences to our ability to do severe storm warnings, long-term weather forecasts, search and rescue and good weather forecasts," Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator, told members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee in April. ...

Forecasters issued warnings five days ahead of tornadoes that struck Tuscaloosa, Ala., and five other states in April. A barrage of 312 tornadoes swept across the Southeast, killing 321 people. On storm day, forecasters gave warnings averaging 27 minutes before actual touchdowns.

Likewise, when a tornado struck Joplin, Mo., killing 151 on May 22, forecasters gave warnings averaging 24 minutes before strikes.

"The satellites are an important part of that early warning process," said Christopher Vaccaro, a spokesman for the service. ...

Lubchenco said without information from the polar satellite, forecasts for a massive storm nicknamed "snowmageddon," which hit Washington in February 2010, would have had the location wrong by 200 to 300 miles and would have underestimated the snowfall by 10 inches. Hurricane tracking would also suffer, she said.

"Our severe storm warnings will be seriously degraded," Lubchenco testified April 1 before the House Appropriations subcommittee governing the agency.

Lawmakers and scientists lauded the value of the program, which provides forecasts for military troop deployments, ocean search-and-rescue missions and farmers tending crops.

"It's important for public safety," said Christine McEntee, executive director of the American Geophysical Union. Cutting the funding "would be penny-wise and pound-foolish."

Lubchenco credited the satellites with helping save 295 people in 2010 by helping track rescue beacons aboard ships.

"That's saving lives, that's saving money," said Rep. Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the House panel that oversees NOAA funding.

But reduced federal spending threatens all domestic programs. Congress cut spending $38.5 billion in the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. House Republicans propose to cut another $30 billion next year.

So, there was never a planned gap. The damn funding got cut, and now it's getting cut some more. What's the point of having scientists advise on these issues if they get ignored? Fuck them, and fuck you. Can't prioritize anything or even look at the data and reason for yourselves. Go sleep in a tar-pit, you dickheads are hindering the herd.

Here's some ideas (4, Interesting)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#42421521)

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 [pbs.org] 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?)

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (4, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#42421565)

The local government has plans here (mainly for earthquake reasons, as we aren't in a hurricane area). I would rather the local government handle it and the feds only step in when a military relief effort is needed - airlifts and such, that the government is still able to do after the Bush poison pill expires. Let it go. It's not that big of a problem. Fall off the cliff. It's an artificial cliff anyway. There's no reason that if the programs affected are that important, they can't just be added back in next year's budget. We don't need to maintain unsustainably low taxes just to "prevent hurricaines".

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (2, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42421309)

Give us more money, or people die.

Exactly.
When local governments have a shortfall the first to go is police officers and school teachers and firemen.
Bureaucrats seem to hold on to their jobs some how. Rat hole money sponge projects seem to linger on forever.

When the federal government has a shortfall (don't they always), its more of the same, with each agency finding the biggest scaremongering headlines they can possibly put forward.

8% isn't that big, you can find that much fat in any departmental budget, and money can be siphoned off of other projects and moved to these satellites at a moment's notice. Worst case, take the money out of FEMA or the TSA and save everybody some suffering.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (2)

mrbluze (1034940) | about a year ago | (#42421409)

8% isn't that big, you can find that much fat in any departmental budget, and money can be siphoned off of other projects and moved to these satellites at a moment's notice. Worst case, take the money out of FEMA or the TSA and save everybody some suffering.

If people's wages remain static, then it means 8% of adults (and some similar percentage of families) without an income. Sure, you might say those 8% were doing nothing important, but now they will be left with no money, empty stomachs and anger. This does have the potential to destabilize society.

Then to argue that only the fat of a budget will be cut is too idealistic. If those departments can't run themselves efficiently (as a result of corruption, which is partly why there is a problem in the first place), then how will they cut their budgets appropriately?

The real solution to the "fiscal" woes in the US (as it was for other empires) is for it to shake off all the free-loading interest groups and nation states that do not contribute to its welfare, and to return the control of money to the people through the restoration of democratic process, but the political will for this is non-existent.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42421449)

If people's wages remain static, then it means 8% of adults (and some similar percentage of families) without an income.

Well that only works if you believe that EVERYBODY works for the federal government.

A lot of people in this country took pay cuts over the last several years, I'm sure NOAA can as well.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about a year ago | (#42421525)

Considering that the majority of the Federal government today *IS* fat, I have no problem asking for cuts across the board.

But I go even further with "returning the control of money" to the people. The Fed needs to go away, for one thing.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (0)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#42421617)

Give us more money, or people die.

8% isn't that big, you can find that much fat in any departmental budget

THIS.

Heads of government departments are all professional liars (anybody who says different has never worked on a government contract).

You can expect a lot more of this sort of doomsaying as the date approaches.

PS: Other countries have weather satellites, too. Maybe they could spend some time working on international relations...

Re:Same tired argument from the 2%... (1)

pwizard2 (920421) | about a year ago | (#42421341)

Give us more tax breaks or we will wreck the economy again.

FTFY.

Re:Same tired argument from the 2%... (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#42421577)

They are going to wreck the economy again whenever they can do so for profit, so why give them more incentive to break the economy?

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421507)

Try Senators & Congressmen who voted for the creation of this "fiscal cliff" in court for sabotage, and dereliction of duty. When convicted, sentence them to the same sentence given to other traitors of the country. Or maybe even worse, in that they had sworn to protect the US, and were getting paid to do so. Make examples of them. Perhaps avoid the death penalty for those who truly meant well, but remove them all from office, take back all their pay, including benefits, and make mandatory prison sentences for all. Allow civil lawsuits by citizens against these "representatives" of ours.

Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (5, Insightful)

lumbricus (936846) | about a year ago | (#42421599)

How is this Insightful? How about -1 Trite. Is it that hard to believe that government can and does provide useful services, especially those that have such a long time horizon and capital investment that the market will not provide them? Is it also that hard to understand that these valuable programs and the people who run them (at a huge discount relative to the private sector) suffer under the vagaries of political brinksmanship?

What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420959)

We have satellites from the 1970s that are STILL working ... and they had only a 3 year lifespan as designed.

So all this crap about the NOAA satellites being "scheduled" to fail is nothing but political fear mongering. The same crap used during the political campaigns. Nothing but FUD used to make people scare into approving expensive money wasting budgets.

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about a year ago | (#42421027)

besides which more satellites to do the same job already are scheduled for launch, that will not change with 8% budget cut. I'm for doubling or tripling NASA's budget at least, but this kind of sensationalist crap doesn't help the cause.

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year ago | (#42421355)

Kinda hard to fear-monger if you insist on bringing out logic and fact, you know.

Besides, what makes better eyeball-grabbing media headlines and budgetary attention?

* "NOAA may have to cut back a bit due to scheduled 8% budget cuts from the fiscal cliff"
- or -
* "NOAA sez the fiscal cliff will kill us all in a wall of hurricane water! AIEEEEE!"

Hell, if you think about it, almost every government agency out there has similar tales of dire prediction:
- TSA says terrorists will win if they don't get more money
- SSA says old people will be forced to eat dog food if they don't get more money
- HHS says the poor will die and be thrown to the streets if they don't get more money
- DOD says we'll lose wars if they don't get more money
etc, etc...

Funny part is, I'm willing to wager that all of these departments could stand a massive cut of fundage if they just got rid of the middle-management bloat, and stopped embracing that stupid '7:00 to 4:30' mentality that most gov't employees seem to worship.

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about a year ago | (#42421161)

These days satellites are often programmed (or simply put into a suitably decaying orbit) so that they burn up and don't leave stuff hanging around in orbit at the equivalent of Mach 25. I don't know if it's the case with these ones, but causing a satellite to re-enter at the end of its design life is considered "best practice" these days. (Except the Chinese, who have a habit of generating a lot of orbital debris.)

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#42421335)

And I'm sure that the satellites from the 70's are just as good as the satellites of today!

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (5, Informative)

hey! (33014) | about a year ago | (#42421343)

If you read TFA, you'd know the big concern isn't that the satellites are going to stop working, but that the expertise needed to design, build and operate the replacement satellites will retire or move on. This is a real concern.

People who've never run an engineering project think you can take a project that is budgeted to cost X dollars, put it on hold when you've spent 0.7X dollars for some arbitrary length of time, then pick it up much later and finish it for 0.3X dollars. It doesn't work that way. Every time you restart a project it's can be logistically like starting from scratch -- sometimes even worse. I've had customers who take deliverables and sit on them from months. Since I can't keep my team sitting on its hands for months I put the team on something else. Then suddenly the customer signs off on the deliverables and wants work on the next phase to start right away. The team has to refamiliarize itself with the project and figure out what they were up to and why -- if the team is still intact.

Delay is a potent driver of cost overruns and a major source of quality problems.

In any case, this kind of reason drives me nuts. Yes, a solid, conservative piece of engineering often exceeds its design specs. In fact, it's surprising if it doesn't. So you can expect a satellite with a ten year planned lifetime not to conk out at ten years and a day unless you are very unlucky, *but you don't factor that into your planning* otherwise design specs mean nothing. The "happy accident" of a system outperforming its specification is no accident, it's the product of respecting the boundaries of what can be guaranteed.

Re:What a load of fear-mongering B.S. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#42421607)

If you read TFA, you'd know the big concern isn't that the satellites are going to stop working, but that the expertise needed to design, build and operate the replacement satellites will retire or move on. This is a real concern.

Since all the expertise sits with private contractors anyway, we are worried that Loral may let some old guys retire if enough pork isn't sent their way? Again, NOAA's failure to hire young and train up (or keep good documentation) is proof of incompetence, not a national crisis.

I object to rewarding incompetence with extra money to help mask gross incompetence.

It's all about the spectra (2)

stokessd (89903) | about a year ago | (#42420969)

The CrIS hyper spectral sounder is enabling much more precise forecasting. Proving once again that it's not the number of pixels, but the quality of them.

http://npp.gsfc.nasa.gov/cris.html [nasa.gov]

Sheldon

Multiple instruments (5, Informative)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#42421135)

Disclaimer: I worked on a sat program for a met office.

Weather forecasts are usually made by combining many sources of data from literally thousands of instruments. Ground sensors, weather balloons, satellites and such all contribute. If the current weather forecasting models depend on a certain type of information from certain satellites, it will take years to re-calibrate them to data from other satellites that are constructed differently. It may be that some types of data from CriS under certain circumstances are more accurate, but that doesn't mean that it will be compatible or adaptable to the current software being used to make the forecasts.

The second problem is that there is only one CriS that orbits the planet in 14 parts, only coming back to a location about once a day. The NOAA satellites are geostationary and there are two. Together, they can do 24/7 covering of the USA. For weather forecasts, especially for short term hurricane directions that matter for evacuation alerts and such, you can't have just once in 24 hour coverage, you want 15 minute updates.

CriS is certainly a nice instrument, but it's totally inadequate to replace the geostationary satellites NOAA has, since it's function and trajectory are totally not suitable for what the NOAA birds are for.

Re:Multiple instruments (1)

g01d4 (888748) | about a year ago | (#42421399)

Why would it "take years to re-calibrate"? Astronomers have no difficulty combining data from different observatories. It shouldn't be that much different looking down rather than up.

Re:Multiple instruments (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#42421407)

So you issue evac alerts earlier, rather than waiting till the last possible 15 minute period.
If you need updates every 15 minutes you're calling it too close anyway.

Are the Orions still flying? Yup. Good. Gas them up, send them out.

And the spin goes on ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420977)

There will certainly be consequences to budget cuts of any kind. Whether this will be one of them is speculative, at best.

Re:And the spin goes on ... (0, Flamebait)

tooyoung (853621) | about a year ago | (#42421191)

Republicans in particular shouldn't be concerned by this, as they already don't believe in climate modeling.

military satellites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420991)

Doesn't the USA military have any satellites capable of filling the temporary gap in NOAA ones?

Re:military satellites (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#42421071)

Doesn't the USA military have any satellites capable of filling the temporary gap in NOAA ones?

Military weather is classified, you insensitive clod.

All part of the plan (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42420995)

This lines up well with the climate deniers who have sway over the current anti science GOP. The less the American people know, the more they can deregulate to allow big business to prosper.

This is part of the overall strategy, do a search for "GOP defunds NOAA" and you'll see it's a trend.

Re:All part of the plan (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421045)

I'm sorry, I must have missed the DNC budget passed in the Senate that included NOAA funding increases. Whats that? The truth is no budget has even been proposed by the Senate controled by the DNC in the last 5 years? None of Obama's proposed budgets have received a SINGLE vote from the DNC or the GOP? As I recall the GOP controlled House is the ONLY part of government that has proposed and passed a budget, but none of them have been brought up for a vote in the Senate. Perhaps you could enlighten us on how the GOP defunds NOAA when they haven't actually done anything.

It must suck to have to make crap up to make your point.

Re:All part of the plan (4, Insightful)

StormCrow (10254) | about a year ago | (#42421485)

I'm sorry, I must have missed the DNC budget passed in the Senate that included NOAA funding increases. Whats that? The truth is no budget has even been proposed by the Senate controled by the DNC in the last 5 years? None of Obama's proposed budgets have received a SINGLE vote from the DNC or the GOP? As I recall the GOP controlled House is the ONLY part of government that has proposed and passed a budget, but none of them have been brought up for a vote in the Senate. Perhaps you could enlighten us on how the GOP defunds NOAA when they haven't actually done anything.

And that couldn't possibly be because the GOP has systematically filibustered any piece of legislation from the democrats in the senate that they have the slightest issue with, basically making it impossible for anything to come up for a vote.

Re:All part of the plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421065)

Where do you think provisions of the fiscal cliff came from? They didn't just appear out of thin air. In fact, the consequences of the "fiscal cliff" were agreed to by both parties. Spending cuts and tax increases are exactly what both parties know is necessary to happen, so they did it in the form of an "inevitable barrier" so that they would not alienate the voter base. Thus, Republicans can continue to pretend they want "spending cuts" and Democrats can pretend they want the rich to "pay their fair share."

There is no real intention on ever having a "grand deal." The term "fiscal cliff" is one of the great political games of our time. Both parties get to save face by blaming the other, when in fact they are actually taking a step in the right direction. The cuts are not as dramatic as the media would report (DOD spending, for example, only returns to 2006 levels, a time when we were fighting two wars), and neither are the tax increases (which mostly affect people over $400k/year).

Re:All part of the plan (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | about a year ago | (#42421155)

The less the American people know, the more they can deregulate to allow big business to prosper.

I don't think missing those satelites will make people stop noticing the huricanes.

Please note: Baseline budgeting! (3, Informative)

colin_faber (1083673) | about a year ago | (#42421003)

These are cuts in the rate of spending increases! Not budget cuts as we all know them.

This is such bullshit.

Re:Please note: Baseline budgeting! (3, Informative)

Walter White (1573805) | about a year ago | (#42421097)

These are cuts in the rate of spending increases! Not budget cuts as we all know them.

This is such bullshit.

Budgets for the last two years are 5.5 billion and for 2013, 5.1 billion. I presume this is before sequestration.

Where's the spending increase?

Where's the bullshit?

Re:Please note: Baseline budgeting! (1)

colin_faber (1083673) | about a year ago | (#42421151)

The reason the last two budgets are higher, generally across the board (not just NOAA) is directly related to stimulus money flowing toward these organizations.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baseline_(budgeting) [wikipedia.org]

Who's actually talking about real cuts? not the Republicans or Democrats, maybe a few TEA party people who are labeled crazies right away.

Re:Please note: Baseline budgeting! (3, Informative)

carnaby_fudge (2789633) | about a year ago | (#42421245)

Where do you get your numbers? Without references that can be checked your supposed budget numbers mean nothing.

Re:Please note: Baseline budgeting! (1)

whoop (194) | about a year ago | (#42421385)

No, you do not understand. This is the end of us all! The only reason I'm for is to save all of humanity. Please, for the love of all mankind, tell your congressman from to shut up and just do what wants! It's not complicated, if there were only one side in politics, we could do so much for everybody.

About time (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421025)

GOOD. Everything NEEDS to be cut immediately, if not sooner. I myself would prefer that we go off of not just one, but at least three "fiscal cliffs" post haste.

Did the budget get adjusted for the rainy days ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421049)

Did the government adjust the budget for the worsening weather conditions ? From what I can tell this storms aren't one off things and will repeats on both shores maybe even on a yearly basis.
If you know it's coming, shouldn't you put some money aside ? You know... for a rainy day...

Hurry! Hurry! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421073)

Hurry up and make a bad decision. Don't think about it, just cut taxes to the rich and increase taxes on the poor. We don't want to drive off the "Fiscal Cliff" or hit the "Debt Ceiling" or run into a "Monetary Nightmare". It's all about using scary words so that people won't think too much about it.

Fiscal cliff is a faux-issue (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421075)

The fiscal cliff is bullshit, an entirely politically-created problem, which is being used to spur rhetoric, trying to justify decimating social services and other important services.

There is no reason the restriction imposing cuts can't simply be repealed, with the US continuing with its current deficit spending; there is no 'magic limit' at which people stop buying US debt, they can expand it as much as they like.

The US doesn't even need to fund deficit spending through debt either, as a government in sovereign control over its own currency, is capable of funding itself through money creation, with the only limit being the potential for inflation.

The great taboo of macroeconomics today, which hyperinflation scaremongers are desperate to suppress: We are not in a gold standard anymore, and governments are capable of funding themselves with money creation, with the only limit being inflation management.

The dismal 'science' of economics, is still stuck in gold-standard-era thinking, and the only branch of economists to properly describe the role of fiat currency (Post-Keynesian MMT'ers), who are pushing the field closer towards an empirically-sound position, are marginalized due to politics both within the field of economics, and within corporate-captured government around the world.

Re:Fiscal cliff is a faux-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421207)

You're a fucking idiot.

Re:Fiscal cliff is a faux-issue (0)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#42421305)

"The US doesn't even need to fund deficit spending through debt either, as a government in sovereign control over its own currency, is capable of funding itself through money creation, with the only limit being the potential for inflation."

This is where you prove yourself to be a babe, lost in the woods.

The United States of America does not have control of it's own currency. The poorly and misleadingly named "Federal Reserve" has control over the currency that we BORROW from them. The Federal Reserve is a private bank, controlled by the heirs of the Rothschild family. The Federal Reserve is the same thing that many other countries call a "Central Bank". All those so-called central banks belong to the same people.

The banks do not exist for the benefit of the nations that host them. The banks do not exist for the benefit of citizens. The banks exist for one purpose, and one purpose only. That purpose is PROFIT.

When it profits those banks to do so, they will trigger a recession. When it profits them to do so, they end recessions, as well as depressions. The very same central banks will fund both sides of a war. The Central Bank of England funded Napoleon, at the same time that they also funded the armies that eventually beat him.

http://www.themoneymasters.com/ [themoneymasters.com]

Re:Fiscal cliff is a faux-issue (1)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#42421473)

Uh, come up for some oxygen. The Federal Reserve is a member-owned organization. The banks that use its services own it. Profits from the Fed are deposited in the U.S. Treasury, after a small percentage is taken out for operating costs and member fees.

Yes, you read that right. Most of the interest paid by the U.S. on debt is paid to itself.

Re:Fiscal cliff is a faux-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421557)

Proof Platinum Coin Seigniorage allows the US government to generate as much money as it needs; they can demand a $60 trillion platinum coin tomorrow, and go on a massive spending spree (limited only by inflation), that would eliminate the economic crisis.

The central bank is also, again, a political not economic problem: They can be stripped of their undemocratic power over monetary (and by extension, through spending limits, fiscal) policy, and integrated into government, where they are subject to greater democratic control, as they should be.

It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421077)

Fiscal Cliff or not, the United States' inability to pay bills are finally coming to a head. Complain all you want, but it's going to get to a point where the only way to sort this out is to cut federal services. Will it hurt? Will it be uncomfortable? Will it cause problems? You bet. However, we can't create value from nothing (despite what lenders will tell you), and it's the irresponsible deficit spending (on Federal, State, and Personal levels) that has got us here. We have no choice but to halt excessive, even reasonable, spending in hopes of reducing debt and hopefully instilling a responsible budget doctrine.

In this case it sounds like NOAA is really just trying to keep money (be it an actual dollar figure, or projected budget increases) without considering the fact that the United States just doesn't have it. We don't have it, so we can't give it. What part of that is not understood by agencies and the general public?

Re:It doesn't matter... (2, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | about a year ago | (#42421199)

Fiscal Cliff or not, the United States' inability to pay bills are finally coming to a head. Complain all you want, but it's going to get to a point where the only way to sort this out is to cut federal services

Or war against those who hold the chits. Given the history of this country, what do you think is most likely?

Yes, this "fiscal cliff" is all misleading the public, and both sides play their parts. It's like bickering over how to treat a wound on your toe, ignoring that your femurial artery is gushing blood. It's somewhat surprising that the average American doesn't yet see how deep in shit he really is, with the country owing three times his salary, which he has to pay back with interest. Delaying it is just going to make the payments worse.

Re:It doesn't matter... (4, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about a year ago | (#42421537)

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.

The F******** article is pretty damn incorrect. (4, Informative)

Shinobi (19308) | about a year ago | (#42421079)

The only reason NOAA even managed to predict the left-hook was because they integrate the so-called Euro Model predictions from the ECMWF. The Euro model predicted the left hook, while GFS, which is the NOAA's model, predicted Sandy to go NNE.

So for example, on Sailing Anarchy, there were people who were preparing for the Sandy left hook days before NOAA started warning about it, thanks to DryArmor reading the euro model data before NOAA did.

The Big Gray Ships headed out from Norfolk over a day before NOAA warned about the left hook too.

truth is in between (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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...

Re:truth is in between (1)

Shinobi (19308) | about a year ago | (#42421357)

The convergence was due to the integration of ECMWF's model output and GFS output, as well as plugging ECMWF's initialization data into GFS.

I was checking the various maps during the lead-ups, and while NOAA was still forecasting a NNE heading for Sandy, the people following the Euro model were securing their boats, the US Navy were sending ships E or NE from Norfolk etc based on their own forecasts...

There is an upside though, EMWFC have started working with NOAA on fixing GFS's accuracy shortcomings. Plugging ECMWF's initialization data into GFS is a first step in increasing the accuracy.

NOAA did what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421083)

NOAA was a week late in predicting the left hook...the European model was more accurate earlier on

Standing on the "fiscal cliff" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42421091)

And our politicians are the crazy homeless person that will not hesitate to push us off if they can score a few votes. Eh, whatever, just move inland if you're worried about hurricanes. Or, you know, build a more robust, resistant infrastructure.

And not going over the 'fixcal cliff' could mean.. (1)

udachny (2454394) | about a year ago | (#42421113)

Not going over the 'fiscal cliff' (it really is just a pothole, not a cliff), can mean the end of the US dollar, which from POV of American economy will mean collapse of the American debt market, credit. USA economy is unproductive to afford American levels of spending. Clearly people don't understand that in order to consume they actually have to produce, they think others can produce and themselves, they can live off of the subsidy, the taxes, the borrowing and mainly the inflation that hits the producers because their silly governments end up printing their own currencies and buying up the new US dollars.

Not going over the fiscal cliff right now means a signal to the rating agencies that USA is never going to address its fiscal imbalances, that it will not impose any artificial credit limit upon itself. It means that the real credit limit (debt ceiling) will be eventually imposed by the creditors themselves.

If nobody who makes the things you want wants your money and you don't make anything to trade with, what do you do? The next Sandy just may be irrelevant if you can't buy food and medicine and products you need to survive when it's sunny outside.

Re:And not going over the 'fixcal cliff' could mea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421289)

All of that "lack of production," is caused by income inequality. Production has doubled, but wages stayed the same instead of doubling.

There is little point in talking about the symptoms.

At this point, the cliff is needed. GOP doesn't want to support the DNC plan, and offer a worse plan than the cliff. I think that this cliff was the best thing the democrats were able to pull out of them. I do hope that political parties shoot themselves in the foot with this. The Tea Party wasn't enough of a shake-up.

Re:And not going over the 'fixcal cliff' could mea (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | about a year ago | (#42421541)

All of that "lack of production," is caused by income inequality.

That's a non sequitur in championship territory. There's simply no causal relation.

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

Measured how, and since when? Per capita? In terms of constant value, maybe in the last 50 years production per capita has doubled.
But this is pointless. If you're going to make silly, groundless claims, rational discussion can go nowhere.

Re:And not going over the 'fixcal cliff' could mea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421559)

What do you consider this to be [slashdot.org] ?

Europe has our back (4, Interesting)

ral (93840) | about a year ago | (#42421115)

Cliff Mass, a University of Washington professor of meteorology, talks about the predictions around hurricane Sandy. He said [blogspot.com] :

... 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.

Re:Europe has our back (2)

otterpop81 (784896) | about a year ago | (#42421395)

... 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.

Yeah, every model has a different track, and some hurricanes follow one model and other hurricanes follow other models. Hurricanes are unpredictable. Just because this one lined up with a particular forecast doesn't mean that forecast is better in all (or necessarily any other) cases. It's like this for every single hurricane.

I know it's popular on here (and on the internet and media in general) to say that American stuff sucks and that Europe is better, but there isn't anyone pointing out the times when NOAA has the more accurate forecasts. It simply wouldn't be news that people would want to read.

Re:Europe has our back (4, Informative)

Shinobi (19308) | about a year ago | (#42421501)

Considering that the ECMWF's model has proven itself to be more accurate than the GFS for a long while now, to the point that ECMWF are now working together with NOAA to improve the GFS, your complaint is invalid.

The fact that US metereologists are complaining about US weather forecasting falling behind the EU should tell you something.

NWS's own statistics backs up the conclusion:
http://www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/gmb/STATS_vsdb/ [noaa.gov]

Re:Europe has our back (1)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#42421493)

I'm pretty certain that would be the European Centre for whatever. Them being based in England and all that :)

This is why all such "fiscal cliff" talk is ... (1, Troll)

sgt_doom (655561) | about a year ago | (#42421131)

...nonsense...

The Sinister State of the American Economy

(An explanation even a Kardashian can understand!)

A little over twenty years ago, the Soviet Union dissolved.

The popular mythology holds that nothing occurred to the U.S. economy --- that even though David Rockefeller accompanied President Nixon and Henry Kissinger on their trips to Beijing and Moscow, where Rockefeller established banking operations in those two countries dating back to 1973, there was supposed to be absolutely no economic nor financial connections between American and the old Soviet Union.

Gorbachev was honest about the demise of the Soviet Union, but Wall Street was its usual duplicitous self and dissembled about the collapse of the American banking system around the same time.

With the 1990s came an explosion of credit derivatives, what's been referred to as "shadow banking" and created originally to alleviate the S&L meltdown losses --- even than a specious solution.

We'd have to wait until 1996 for Blythe Masters, at JP Morgan, to concoct that insurance fraud instrument, the credit default swap (another credit derivative), and a few more years until its epidemic spread across the globe.

Remember, the USA invaded Iraq when Saddam stopped selling oil in US dollars --- Petrodollars --- but switched to Euros?

Remember when the sanctions and drones and outright aggression began against Iran by America --- after Iran switched from US dollars to Euros for oil exchange?

To remain the world's reserve currency, countries must use American currency to buy and sell oil --- otherwise it loses its value, especially when enough countries begin to dump US dollars with the resultant collapse of the American economy.

That's the cause behind those American attempts on the life of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and the American government's bellicosity against that country (backed by the corporate propaganda network, frequently referred to as "the media").

(America exporting democracy? Tell that to Honduras, Guatemala, Columbia, Ecuador, Bahrain and the Palestinians!)

Now imagine if a neighbor, or complete stranger, broke down your door and invaded your property because they didn't agree with the way you spent your money?

The super-rich varmints and vermin have been dismantling the American economy over the past thirty-some years, leaching as much value and wealth from it as possible; offshoring the manufacturing base, offshoring the jobs in all sectors, and ignoring the country's infrastructure --- or worse --- selling it off!

You really think a "consumer-only economy" can survive?

I've nothing personally against Robert Reich, he seems like a decent enough fellow, but did you really believe Bill Clinton would have appointed such a complete idiot?

A pseudo-economist who doesn't understand arithmetic or large data sets? The author of the pile of crap, The Work of Nations --- the temporary fantasy being pushed by Wall Street, the Peterson Institute and the super-rich while dismantling everything?

The other day Reich said that 70% of the GDP activity is consumption --- but that doesn't mean anything of and by itself --- the important number is the percentage composition of the consumer demographic which is doing the vast amount of consuming. (Answer: the top 15%, used to be the top 20%, but the super-concentration of wealth has accelerated --- and that ain't a consumer-based economy, that's a plutocracy!)

Are you beginning to get an idea of what's taking place?

Please understand, this is basic economics, not even Econ 101, but the pre-Econ 101 course, and the purpose of economics is to justify why that pirate over there has all the money, while you have little or nothing.

A farce based upon a farce.

The government will still forcast the weather (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421173)

but, as mentioned, it will be through the military satellite program and the civilians won't have access to the data. This will make it easier to continue to do their experiments with the HAARP stations and weather control.

It all adds up to less information for the citizens, more control for the government and programs to start culling the population in ways that won't lead directly back to a government agency wielded weapon such as a firing line or gas chambers.

Or Private Industry Will Launch Their Own Fleet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421179)

Just because government offers a service does not mean it will no longer be offered if they stop ...

If there is true value being provided, then someone in private industry will step in and offer the same thing. News organizations make plenty of $$ off of severe weather.

Imagine if one of those organizations had an "Exclusive satellite system" and they were the "only news channel able to give up to the date accurate information"

weather channel is now part of nbc / comcast so th (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#42421277)

weather channel is now part of nbc / comcast so they have the funds to launch a satellite.

Hell they still have the old weather star 4000's running off the old analog tv satellites

i still dont get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421227)

can you draw it out on the big board with a crayon for me?

So, in the end... (1)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#42421271)

you do have to be European to know, in advance, which way the wind blows.

Re:So, in the end... (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#42421549)

No... i'm sure private enterprise will take it up. For the low low subscription fee of $60/month to American Weather; you'll get a rough idea of what tomorrow's forecast should be like; with a few simple clicks from your web browser.

Get the app for $50 + $100/month for the mobile phone version; or "The Weather Channel (Premium Cable TV Channel)" for $90/month.

We'll be thrown back into the dark ages for 2 year (1)

dos4who (564592) | about a year ago | (#42421347)

SO WHAT!?! Tough it out like we all used to "way back when"... Betting the odds beats a financial disaster for the masses. "Back in my day, we didn't HAVE satellites!

Budget cuts now or economic disaster later.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421371)

So you (the article) are accusing us/government of not using foresight with our budget cuts. If you had foresight then you would realize that if we don't make cuts now (and tax increases), our economy will be in the tank before the next big hurricane, cuts would be even worse. The reason we are in this debt mess to begin with is because everyone wants something and uses emotional appeal (fear, etc.) to pressure congress to give them what they want. If you want more money, trim the fat in your organization first. "You can't have your cake and eat it too" --A. Founding Father

So,NOAA Never Issued a Hurricane Warning for Sandy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421375)

No hurricane warning was issued in any of the states that were hit by Sandy... Not even when it was obvious that it was going to a hurricane when it hit ground.
With full functioning infrastructure, this fully funded agency failed.

AccuWeather was all over it...

Why are people so intent on inflicting pain? (5, Interesting)

SomeKDEUser (1243392) | about a year ago | (#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.

Why so long to build+launch a weather sat? (1)

joneser005 (816318) | about a year ago | (#42421585)

Why on Earth would it take 5+ years to build & launch a weather satellite? Seems like they could use the plans for the older sats (whilst using modern component equivalents). It shouldn't take multi-billions to build. Maybe we need an X-prize for weather satellites.

Republican B.S. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42421611)

Listen, this is just more Republican B.S. We're not going to miss forecasting another Sandy-like hurricane
because the rich are finally told to carry their own weight in the U.S of A. and end their entitlement of standing
on the backs of the poor and middle class Americans because of the Bush charity-for-the-rich tax cuts. Just sayin'.

And milk will not suddenly become $20.00/gallon, either, or even $7.00 a gallon.

CAPTCHA = paranoia (weird!)

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