Like the formidable Ms. Flint, I hesitate to connect tsunamis and climate change. I wish Congresswoman Kristi Noem shared our hesitance. The South Dakota freshwoman voted last month to cut 28% from the National Weather Service budget, imperiling the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center:
The union representing National Weather Service workers says budget cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives could jeopardize public safety and increase the severity of disaster losses in Hawaii.
"People could die. ... It could be serious," said Barry Hirshorn, Pacific region chairman of the National Weather Service Employees Organization.
Hirshorn said that if a continuing resolution proposed by the U.S. House is enacted — triggering a 28 percent budget cut in the second half of the fiscal year — Weather Service employees as well as those at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center could face furloughs and rolling closures.
"It would impact our ability to issue warnings," he said [Gary T. Kubota, "Cuts Could Kill, Union Says," Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 2011.02.20].
Congressional Dems argue this karmically ill-timed Noem-Boehner budget move is motivated by the GOP's climate science denial:
"Those who claim that global warming is a myth find the hard data produced by such monitoring inconvenient," Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told the Star Advertiser. The cutback to the tsunami warning center also recalls Gov. Bobby Jindal's mockery of federal money for volcano monitoring back in 2009—just months before a volcano eruption in Iceland wreaked havoc on Europe [Suzy Khimm, "GOP Budget Cuts Target Tsunami Warning Center," Mother Jones, 2011.03.11].
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center is a valuable NOAA project. It saves money by reducing false alarms. It saves lives by providing timely alarms, like those last Friday. Now that the GOP has proved its Jindalesque prescience extends to tsunamis, it's time for Kristi to put down the cocktails, go back to Washington, and put back the vital funding for the National Weather Service to gather its live-saving data.