Weather Satellite Surveillance — ‘Not going to be pretty’

February 27, 2013

global-weather-satellitesMiddle of the week — ya-hoo!
Unless it’s that Yahoo, and then it’s get thee to the office you lazy home workers!

Clear and cold this morning — the moon slightly less-than-round — and the whole sky along California’s north coast has a full dose of white light outlying life in this land of the not-so-fast lane.

After this Friday, the dark way up there could get even darker, much to our peril.

(Illustration found here).

One of the biggest dumb-shit moves of our national legislators kicks into bad effect on Friday — the boring ‘sequester’ — with some $85 billion in cuts automatically slated to start its trim job on all kinds of necessary stuff, like jobs and fire-fighting budgets.
Along with that, in an age of extreme weather and a warming climate, our ability to see even a small glimpse into the workings of the environment could be hampered.
From Climate Central:

In a Feb. 8 letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca M. Blank said the sequester would cause a 2- to 3-year delay in the production and deployment of the first two next-generation geostationary weather satellites, a program known as GOES-R.
The first two GOES-R satellites are currently scheduled to launch in 2015 and 2017.
Any delays in GOES-R would put that satellite program on the same shaky ground as NOAA’s troubled polar-orbiting satellite program, which has run billions of dollars over budget and is years behind schedule.
“This delay would increase the risk of a gap in satellite coverage and diminish the quality of weather forecasts and warnings,” Deputy Secretary Blank said.
“It is unclear that future years of investment will be able to undo some of the damage — especially to our weather preparedness.”
The cuts come at a time when the U.S. has been grappling with a scourge of high impact extreme weather events, including Hurricane Sandy and a massive drought.
Last year was the second-most expensive year from natural disasters on record in the U.S. since 1980.
Climate studies have shown that manmade global warming is heightening the risk and severity of some extreme events, particularly heat waves and wildfires.
Recent federal assessments show that extreme events will be more of a challenge in coming decades as the climate continues to warm.

On Feb. 14, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) included “mitigating gaps in satellite data” on its annual list of the top 30 challenges facing the federal government, also known as its “high-risk list.”
“Any further delays in the GOES-R program would likely increase the risk of a gap in satellite coverage,” the GAO report said.
The GAO also included managing climate change risks on the same high-risk list.
Outgoing NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco told Climate Central on Feb. 15 that the sequester will have significant impacts on the agency.
“It’s not going to be pretty,” she said.
“The sequester has the potential to wreak havoc with so many different things, and satellites loom large within that.
There’s just so much uncertainty.
Nobody knows how long it might last, and it’s very difficult to plan for that.”

And that uncertainty comes from the government side — the White House and Congress, who have been name-calling, finger pointing and bitching about the ‘other side’ in attempts to pass off blame for this awful mess.
One giant hypocrite deluxe, House Speaker John ‘The Boner’ Boehner, pulled the tail on the tale yesterday: We have moved a bill in the house twice. We should not have to move a third bill before the Senate gets off their ass and begins to do something.
Eleanor Clift at The Daily Beast points out the legislative stupidity of The Boner’s action: “By turning over his prestige, power, and initiative to the other body, saying, ‘Let the other Republicans take the pain,’ he is surrendering the constitutional power given to the House,” says Samuel Popkin, a political scientist at the University of California at San Diego. “He is admitting failure, defeat.”
Couldn’t happen to a nicer asshole.

As this nonsense approaches, a big chunk of Americans have tuned it out — been there, done that.

Three out of 4 Americans say they aren’t following the spending cuts issue very closely, according to a Pew Research Center poll released this week.
It’s a significant drop from the nearly 4 in 10 who in December said they were closely following the fiscal-cliff debate.
Public data from Google’s search engine shows that at its peak in December, the search term “fiscal cliff” was about 10 times as popular as “sequestration” has been in recent days.
Even “debt ceiling,” not a huge thriller for the web-surfing crowd, maxed out in July 2011 at about three times the searches the sequester is now getting.
“We’re now approaching the next alleged deadline of doom. And voters, having been told previously that the world might end, found it did not in the past and are becoming more skeptical that it will in the future,” said Peter Brown of the nonpartisan Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
And let’s face it: When it comes to policy issues that can really put an audience to sleep, “sequestration” is right up there with filibuster reform, chained CPI and carried interest.

However,  a type of smell test underlines another big chunk of US peoples: In the current drama, a much larger slice of the public – 60 percent – said the March 1 cuts would have a “major effect” on the US economy. So most Americans know something big is going on, but many just aren’t quite sure what it is.

As the US Supreme Court gets ready to hear oral arguments today in the Shelby Co. v Holder, a possible landmark anti-Voting Rights Act legalese, the robed jurists already this week let stand the federal government’s right to privacy on surveillance of all of us…
Via the LA Times:

No one can sue the government over secret surveillance because, since it’s secret, no one can prove his or her calls were intercepted, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday, throwing out a constitutional challenge to the government’s monitoring of international calls and emails.
The 5-4 decision is the latest of many that have shielded the government’s anti-terrorism programs from court challenge, and a striking example of what civil libertarians call the Catch-22 rule that blocks challengers from collecting the evidence they need to proceed.

The PEN American Center, which represents writers, called it a “Kafkaesque holding…. The U.S. government is running a secret program that monitors people.
In order to challenge the legality of the program, the court’s majority says you have to show that you’re being monitored.
You can’t show this, of course, because the program is secret,” said Peter Godwin, the group’s president.

The government can watch all of us, but can’t watch that Category 5 hurricane bearing down on the US east coast — pretty has absolutely nothing to be with it, now it’s all ugly.

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