Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still on PNoy berating Pagasa...

"Look at Japan and look at Bangladesh.  Japan has more scientists than lawyers.  Bangladesh has more lawyers than scientists.  Now, look at the Philippines.  While export our scientists, we have to exile our lawyers." -- Yosi break observations.

Bad Manners Gun Club has this to say about PNoy berating Pagasa:
So while President N/A’s criticism of the agency might well be criticized as a lame cover for his own lack of initiative, it’s still objectively valid — as long as the country has to rely on PAGASA for guidance on how to withstand and recover from destructive storms, PAGASA owes it to the country to do a better job. Getting them the equipment they need should be a critical priority — but then so should making sure that the agency is appropriately-staffed with competent, motivated people who understand the importance of what they do. Hopefully, the president understands that as well, and won’t simply assume that his over-reported complaints amount to proper attention to the matter. The next storm may be worse or it may not, but one thing is absolutely certain: it will be here, eventually.

I tend to agree with what BMGC said, but I'd have to add a couple of things.

First, not many people realize the extent to which Pagasa is underfunded, undermanned, and ill-equipped for the "important" job they are supposed to do.

My wife, who has met almost everyone in Pagasa over the years as a reporter, relates that the people in this small government agency is made up mostly of scientists -- actual scientists -- whose job is to make sense out of the data they get.  

She says that the reason that the country gets only a few snippets of satellite images every six or so hours is because that is  what the agency's budget can afford -- we do not have it on tap.  

Perhaps, our weather scientists are forced to make predictions with huge gaps in their data.

Ergo, they have stick their heads out of the window and use their Magic Eight Balls as well as jargon laden explanations of why their predictions missed.

And, I think it would be a mistake to say that our people at Pagasa AREN'T IMAGINATIVE... Because after sticking their heads out of the window and using their eight balls, THAT'S THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE TO RESORT TO... They have to imagine what the next series of satellite images will look like.

If you want to talk about brain drain, another friend relates that one of our meteorologists had finally given up on trying to serve the country that he opted to get a job at Australia's (don't know where exactly) weather bureau.  From P20,000 a month, he is getting ten times that plus other benefits.

Anyway, as far as bad predictions go, all weather services -- even the best ones --  have that problem... Hence, the Weatherman Cliche.

If we want a better weather service, we might have to look seriously into pouring more funds into it -- which is the job of Congress, a branch of government which Pnoy was a part of until very recently.

I don't know if at all PNoy found it necessary to champion the cause of better weather prediction services in all of his nine years in the Lower House.  After all, his home province is Tarlac and it is part of the Central Luzon Region (along with Pampanga, Zambales, Bulacan) which regularly experiences flooding.  With better weather prediction services, he would have help his province as well as other provinces with huge flood plains in setting the timing of their planing season as well as avoid typhoon related disasters.

Perhaps, in Pnoy's first SONA, he should make a point to ask congress for increased funding for weather predictions services as well as DISASTER RISK MAPPING, DISASTER PLANNING AND PREVENTION.

This is closer to a solution than berating a couple of scientists.

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