Playing with Data

Personal Views Expressed in Data

Why Should I Continue as an AMS Member?

Author Update: AMS has now added an editor's note/disclaimer on the blog post.

Earlier today on the American Meteorological Society (AMS; of which I am a member) blog, a post was published that advocated for the privitization of weather forecasts. In a nutshell, the blog post suggested that the US government, and more specifically the National Weather Service, is inefficient in its generation of forecasts and therefore should stick to the mission of generating and providing raw data and discontinue the creation of weather forecasts. The blog post goes on to state that the US government could/should purchase forecasts from private companies for citizens that cannot afford to purchase their own forecasts. Although as an American citizen I find this arrangement unacceptable, and yet another attempt at privitizing profits (removing the government forecasts) and socializing losses (the generation/collection of the data), I will leave that discussion for another time and place.

My real issue is not so much the fact that a private weather company is advocating for this arrangement, it is that the AMS allowed such a post to be featured on their blog without opposing viewpoints. Whether or not the AMS agrees, their blog is a reflection of the AMS and its positions. By allowing such a post to be published publicly, without differing views, the AMS is implicitly endorsing this position. The AMS has implicitly chosen a side --- especially when no disclaimer saying otherwise can be found on the website! (I understand that the particular position being advocated in this blog post is not the official position of the AMS. However, the simple fact is that an overwhelming majority of people will not take the time to delve into the nitty-gritty details and jargon of AMS position statements.) Why on earth would the AMS think that featuring/allowing a blog post, on the organization's website, that attacks a portion of the AMS's constituency, without allowing that constituency's view to be shared, would be a good idea? If the AMS membership wants to have this discussion, I'm all for it. Positions and views should always be debated and discussed openly and freely. However, we should have this dicussion amongst the membership, and then share the discussion/consensus, rather than have the opening salvo feature one side of the discussion. The fact that this post is featured on the website the week before the AMS Community Meeting is to be held leads credence to this appearing as an official AMS position.

Ironically, this morning I received my yearly email from AMS reminding me that it is time to renew my membership for the upcoming year. Based on the apparent AMS position on government meteorologists/forecasters, I seriously wonder why a government meteorologist/forecaster would want to be a member of the AMS? Fortunately, there are alternatives to the AMS for a professional society. One in particular is the National Weather Association (NWA), of which I'm also a member. Maybe if enough government meteorologists left the AMS and became more active in the NWA, the AMS would re-evaluate their policies that allow members to promote positions that alienate a significant portion of its contiuency. Maybe this is a sign to leave the AMS (and the committees I'm currently on) and focus solely on the NWA? Without an apology/correction/disclaimer from the AMS --- and soon --- my tendency would be toward leaving. Fortunately, I have a few months to see what the AMS does...