Sen. Santorum of Pennsylvania has introduced legislation to effectively terminate the mission of the National Weather Service as a whole, reducing it to a data-mining agency for the private-sector. I'm all for private-sector competition, but there is no precedent in any field to eliminate a task of the government under pressure from the private sector; it is up to the private sector to provide a service the general public desires and will pay for, improving upon what is publically available, not to complain when they do not get their way.
As a meteorologist, I can tell you that this proposed legislation negatively impacts the field in every imaginable way, with the only benefits realized in the private sector's checkbooks. It affects everyone, from those at the top providing the service to local television meteorologists and their forecasts to the general public looking for a simple, accurate forecast. People fail to realize how much the government provides that even the private-sector companies cannot live without; they also fail to realize how much more accurate and precise the governmental forecasts are as opposed to those from the private sector. The impacts upon the academic sector -- the group that provides the greatest benefits to hazardous weather prediction and understanding, yet alone daily weather prediction, would be huge. Entire sectors of the academic sector would cease to exist, notably those that go towards improving these forecasts.
An accord can be reached between the two sides and is probably the best hope for getting anything productive accomplished in any future meteorological endeavors. This legislation is not the way to go about it. If you are interested, I urge you to contact Sen. Santorum with your thoughts as a member of the general public at http://santorum.senate.gov/public/; from there, click on Contact Information on the left sidebar and choose how you would wish to contact him. Contacting your own Senator/Congressman would not hurt either.
Mods -- please feel free to move this if necessary, as I understand that it is slightly off-topic. But, I felt the visibility would be greatest here and it is a topic that impacts a lot of what this site is built upon as well.
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