No more wrong forecasts, please

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No more wrong forecasts, please

Yesterday was the day of Cheoseo, one of the 24 seasonal divisions of the lunar calendar, when the intense summer heat wave begins to recede. But the seasonal clock seems to have stopped now. Seoul’s temperature on Sunday soared to 36.4 degrees Centigrade (97.5 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest this year. The worst heat wave since 1994 has continued for 30 days in a row. People are bombarded with the unfair graded utility billing which was introduced by the government to save energy for the industrial sector. 16 people, mostly the old and weak, have died as a result of the heat wave, as have millions of livestock across the country.

The scorching heat is probably unavoidable as it is a result of global warning. An effort to prepare for natural disasters and minimize them through accurate weather forecasting is more important than ever, but the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) is going backwards.

Despite public uproar against its misleading weather forecasts, KMA repeatedly flip-flopped on when the mercury would head south. It predicted that the heat wave would subside from Aug. 14, but most of Korea showed temperatures hovering at 35 degrees Centigrade. It then said Aug. 24 would be the turning point, but it has again changed the date to Aug. 25.

What irritates citizens more is the agency’s attitude, characterized by parrot-like excuses instead of self-reflection. KMA has once again attempted to find fault with the atmospheric pressure around the Korean Peninsular, an excuse it uses every monsoon season. The agency attributes its inaccurate forecasts to the high pressure in the North Pacific Ocean and an inflow of hot air from China. Didn’t KMA introduce a super computer costing a whopping 53.2 billion won ($47.2 million) earlier this year to accurately analyze such diverse factors and present correct weather forecasts?

We must hold such an irresponsible agency accountable for its past mistakes. This calls for a colossal revamp. The government must introduce a system using real names in order to allow weathermen to take responsibility for their incorrect predictions. Also, the government must change the current rotation-based job assignments and instead pick qualified staff solely for weather forecasting. Weathermen who habitually produce inaccurate forecasts must be fired. Unless the KMA adopts a rigid work culture, it doesn’t deserve taxpayers’ money.


JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 22, Page 30
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