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Foster: Joaquin Highlights Consequences of Underinvestment in Scientific R&D

Oct 9, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC –Today, Congressman Bill Foster spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives about the failure of US weather forecasting to correctly predict the path of Hurricane Joaquin and the real life consequences of underinvesting in scientific research and development.

Video of Foster’s speech can be found here.

Text of Foster’s remarks is below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss an example of the real life consequences of underinvesting in scientific research and development.

Last week, with the development of Hurricane Joaquin, we were reminded that US weather forecasting is not what it should be.  

Our system, the GFS, predicted that Joaquin would hit the Mid-Atlantic states, while the European model correctly predicted that it would remain at sea. And nobody predicted the severity of the flooding that would hit South Carolina.

This wasn’t the first time that our predictions have missed the mark. Three years ago, we failed to predict the path of Hurricane Sandy, while the European model correctly identified that it would be a direct and devastating hit on New Jersey.

After Sandy, we invested somewhat more money into the computing ability of the National Weather Service, but as Joaquin has shown, it was too little too late.

The economic costs of unnecessary evacuations are as real as missing evacuations.

Scientific research requires a steady investment of time and talent to be successful. If we continue to underinvest in essential infrastructure like weather forecasting, we do it at our own peril.

I urge my colleagues to heed this warning and to start taking seriously the long-term investments that our R&D infrastructure requires.

Thank you, and I yield back.

 

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