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“Should we talk about the weather?
Should we talk about the government?”
– R.E.M., Pop Song 89
As we turn to December, this post closes out our varied ruminations on service by politicizing the most mundane of subjects: the weather. My apologies for taking the last subject suitable for polite conversation into the realm of controversy. Or perhaps like me, you’ve noticed that opinions about the weather have become yet another ideological marker that threatens to divide family, friends and citizens from one another.
Modern weather forecasting, like dentistry, is an undeniable benefit to our country. But as the National Weather Service (NWS) looks toward its 150th anniversary in 2020, should we ask whether the services it provides ought to remain the purview of the government?
The government’s long-standing role in weather forecasting is itself an argument for maintaining the status quo. Yet the increasingly politicized nature of weather and climate science, along with ever increasing government spending and a vibrant market for weather forecasting may suggest that a bureaucracy such as the NWS has lived long enough.