Extreme Weather Targets Millions

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2015-11-19 – It wasn’t enough to stop reporting air temperature as wind chill. As I write this the actual temperature outside is 41° F. With the wind chill factor it is 30. I hesitate to use the degree symbol (° F). Water would freeze at 30° F. I don’t see any frozen water outside.

The wind chill factor is meant just to make us feel miserable. In the summer, we have the temperature-humidity index, which might report an 83° day as 98° or even worse: reporting an 85° day in triple digits as 101°. Misery.

But in recent years, I’ve noticed another disturbing trend in weather forecasting. Forecasts are now given in terms of the number of people affected. The first “blizzard” of the season is now forecast and is expected to affect tens of millions of people.

I’m not even going to get out my boots. I don’t get out my boots until the forecast is expected to affect at least 100 million people. (As if the number of people matters for a weather forecast.)

Last Friday, terrorists attacked Paris, killing something over 100 people. Not a day before that, terrorists attacked Beirut, killing 40 or 50 people. (I am being imprecise because reports don’t agree.) A couple weeks before, over 200 were killed when a Russian airliner was downed by a bomb over Egypt. A year ago, a Malaysian airliner was downed over the Indian Ocean. And so on and so on.

Facebook provided special services to acknowledge only one of these events. You could commemorate the Paris attack by coloring your profile photo with the French tricolor. Some people thought this was racist. And maybe it was. But racist by whom?

News media pick and choose the stories they will report. The Paris attack supported a particular narrative. And so it was reported as an existential threat to the United States. None of the others were.

Just like the blizzard that threatens millions.

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