Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Falsified Hope

For years or decades even wags have made fun of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) acronym. The parodies started really with GMA Channel 7 weatherman Amado Pineda's way of making the forecast in the late 1970s and Amanda Pineda (played by Tessie Tomas) was born in the comedy show Champoy a few years after. Incidentally, Tomas' Amanda Pineda character launched her career into the comedy galaxy. People always have said that PAGASA is really "walang PAGASA" (no hope) since the weather predictions come after the fact. The joke was or is or will be rain is forecast after the rain has fallen.

But that was before the age of human induced climate change!

But recently PAGASA's predictions have no longer sounded funny. Typhoon Mina (Mitag) was forecast to hit southern Luzon but days earlier international forecasts predicted that the howler will pass over northern Luzon. Apparently the storm did pass over northern Luzon and the southern part had a reprieve. But PAGASA's change of prediction happened much later than the initial overseas meteorology agencies (correct) predictions. CNN carried the overseas predictions in its broadcasts,

Because of the internet, disaster preparedness agencies of the regional governments were not completely caught unprepared. It seems that they trusted CNN more than PAGASA!

Weather prediction is still an uncertain science and as all science students know, conclusions are always falsifiable. In fact science really advances with falsification and scientists will have to gracefully admit that their original conclusions were wrong. That is how science practitioners do it.

This whole shebang means only one thing, the capacity of PAGASA to make predictions that have less chance of being falsified is trailing that of other met agencies in the region. The government has to take note and make the needed investments.

In this warmed up globe, weather forecasts are crucial in saving lives, planning lives and also planning how % of GDP is needed for the economy.

PAGASA personnel have been trying to make do with little that they have. This is very commendable. But they have to admit that they made an erroneous prediction.

Given the neo-liberal mindset of our economics PhD Prez, she might well decide to privitize PAGASA. This should enable that office to come up competitive products.

Weather forecasts are information commodities. The public have the right to get what is best for their money.

Take the US for example. People can choose between the Weather Channel, Accuweather etc.

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