Saturday, August 07, 2010

Required reading for President Aquino

The Philippine science community is surely pissed off by the decision of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino's decision to relieve Dr Prisco Nilo of his directorship of PAGASA. Mr Aquino axed Dr Nilo for wrongly forecasting tropical storm Basyang's path.

However, Mother Nature cannot be made to obey the bureaucracy nor political whim. She has no accountability! This is something that Mr Aquino [or at least his science advisors] never got the wind about. [Pun intended!]

Weather forecasting is simply that a forecast. It is subject to uncertainty. Weather and climate information are provided by weather stations and the hundreds of ships and planes that ply the world's trade routes.

The information is included in forecast models and synoptic models. The book shown in the photo is written in English that is geared for grade 6 -7 students and tell how meteorologists do their science. It was written in the days before global warming and yet the authors hinted then it WILL BE THE PROBLEM. My dad gave me this book many many years ago. The book ends with a chapter that meteorologists and climatologists have no choice but to stand in AWE when confronted with Nature's forces. But yet scientists try to understand as best as they could.

Turning Dr Nilo into a bureaucrat at the DOST main office does not do PAGASA any good as the agency is faced with a brain drain problem, lack of meteorologists and a funding shortfall. It does not do science in this country any good.

With this bureaucratic bungling at the Palace, Mr Aquino might as well return the weather bureau to the Jesuits at his beloved Ateneo whose Father Faura predicted typhoons so well. But Mr Aquino should realize that the Jesuits were well funded and well trained!

The bottomline: Aquino is putting over his populist pogi points over impending weather disaster!

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