The unsung heroes of Sandy

While going through the avalanche of Sandy news today — the flooding, the power outages, the destroyed homes, the fires — I only came across three references to a fact that for me had stood out above all others: that this storm’s unusual path, unusual strength, and record-setting flood levels at various locations had all been predicted days in advance.

Every American in the path of this storm had the modern luxury of advance notice of the dangers. There was plenty of time to evacuate, or to board up windows, lay in a bottled water supply, and stay off the streets. In New York City, with a population of 8.2 million people, there are only 10 dead (as of Mayor Bloomberg’s most recent press conference). Imagine what that toll would look like if the city or any of the low-lying areas of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had been caught by surprise. Or any of the eastern seaboard.

Nate Silver, possibly the best known statistician in the US, tweeted:


Exactly. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if the politicians in the US recognized this fact? Hey, how about a letter?

Dear US Politicians:

Well-educated people who know a lot of math and science saved truckloads of American lives last night. Could we maybe stop demonizing them as “elites” now? And quit using them as a political dog whistle?

And could we maybe begin reinvesting in our science agencies and grants, and our scientific infrastructure, rather than railing against them as “government waste” and cutting their budgets to the bone?

Also — and I realize I’m really dreaming here — could we actually give credit to our geeky scientists when their work either saves lives or makes a substantial contribution to our society? You see, if we did that, we’d have more young people wanting to be scientists, because it would be seen as a cool and valuable job. And that would benefit all of us.

Misrepresenting and demonizing them in order to gain votes? That doesn’t benefit all of us. Maybe you ought to lay off that tactic before enough Americans realize who it does benefit.

A Concerned Citizen


About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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6 Responses to The unsung heroes of Sandy

  1. M. says:

    Awesome job these scientists made 🙂

    This is ironic: although you worry about US science, it obviously fares better than EU one. According to EU programs, science, usually greatly respected here, should be pampered by every goverment. Science was promised great money for constant development, because EU wanted science to be supported as much as in US. Unfortunately – most likely because of the crisis – this goal was not achieved. If I remember correctly only Finland raised funds for science to a planned level. Shame.

  2. xenatuba says:

    As the child of a weatherman (one of the first in Oregon trained on Doppler Radar) I stand in awe of the forecasters and data analysts for this event. What an amazing job they did.

  3. Lilaine says:

    Hurrah and long life to all the Geekheroes (Gheekroes?… Geekyroes? 😀 ) on this tiny world!
    And kudos to the supercomputers and their programmers for the amazing data processing capacity and results accuracy, and to all the meteorologists for giving them, and us, an exact and clear understanding of what occurs in that kind of situation.

  4. Ana_ñ says:

    With all my sympathy for those affected by Sandy and best wishes for recovery, I totally agree with you. Last week, in the add of that South Dakota candidate, you already commented on that terrible intentional discredit of education.

    History teaches us the hard way that “burning books” always equals to lack of freedom, hatred and violence, and the eventual fall of that society. Liberation, progress and leadership come by ensuring and promoting access to quality education.

    If only that was history; no, Malala is fortunately recovering from her murder attempt, a Pakistani girl shot for defending her right to go to school. At the same time, in the nation that thinks of itself as Heaven on Earth, Santorum was saying “We will never have the elite, smart people on our side […] Our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side […] The basic premise of America and American values will always be sustained through two institutions — the church and the family.”

    Church and family – Unfortunately, as reader Paulo mentioned recently, here are included churches telling people, “God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,” a statement believed by the 46% of US residents. In addition, I’m pretty sure that their concept of family doesn’t include the so called alternative ones. Certainly not after that brainless candidate said, “Pregnancy from rape is God’s will”. It hurts to see this “talibanization” in a part of US representatives, as well as in other advanced countries.

    I call for education, Arts, Sciences and Technology — bring back their deserved prestige, prioritize them, and things will start to go better.

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