Freeze Warning: South African Law Makes Unauthorized Weather Forecasts Illegal

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

American novelist Ilka Chase once wrote that, “Among famous traitors of history one might mention the weather.” Now it seems unauthorized  predictions about the weather are getting the traitor treatment, too. A proposed South African law would make any weather forecast about severe weather or air pollution not authorized by the government-funded South African Weather Service (SAWS) subject to five years in prison and a $630,000.00 fine. The law would affect TV weather forecasters, online services like, and community based weather services. Talk about a government sponsored monopoly.

And a monopoly with a purpose. Only SAWS generated text message warnings and radar images are approved, and, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, these are available to the public only after paying a subscription fee. Given South Africa’s arid climate and its summer’s fast-moving thunderstorms, this information is vital to the farm and the business communities.  The information now comes with a government set price tag. I’d call it a weather tax.

Any organization wishing to publish weather warnings will need to get written permission from SAWS to do so. One of the community-based weather organizations that would be affected by the bill is the  South Africa Weather and Disaster Observation Service (SAWDOS). It’s founder, Johan Terblanche pointed out that, “Experience has taught us that to get permission from any institution takes time — that is if you can get hold of the designated person.” So South Africans in the path of  severe weather will either have to buy the SAWS subscription service or hope their community-based service gets to the right person in time for the warning.

Another lesson in the “We’re from the government and here to help you” playbook.

Source:  Mother Nature Network

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

39 thoughts on “Freeze Warning: South African Law Makes Unauthorized Weather Forecasts Illegal”

  1. “Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.”

  2. Relying on your local TV weatherman for anything more in depth than reading the latest off the news wire, is the intellectual equivalent of consulting Popular Mechanics magazine for the latest scientific data on quantum mechanics.

  3. Don’t disrupt NOAA’s climate change activities with Obama’s proposed agency re-shuffle

    “How does it help us with the things we need from NOAA?” we said to ClimateWire, questioning the President’s proposal to subsume the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into the Department of the Interior. “Is it going to help those things or throw them into turmoil and create mischief on the Hill?” The proposed NOAA restructuring could be disruptive to carrying out the agency’s already challenging and sensitive climate change responsibilities. And it could make it less independent when, if anything, it should be more independent.

  4. About Forecast the Facts

    Intense droughts, fierce storms, increased flooding. Scientists have been predicting for years that human-induced climate change would lead to a future of increasingly dangerous extreme weather events. That future is now upon us.

    But when most Americans tune into their local weather report, they won’t hear a peep about climate change.


    Because the majority of TV meteorologists don’t believe in it.

    That’s right:

    the professionals most responsible for informing the public about the weather are systematically missing the most important weather story of our lifetime.

    Incredible, they go to school, learn about weather because weather in turn becomes the climate and somehow with all their knowledge they are wrong to think for themselves.

  5. Had to repost this, whoever posted it here thanks.

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for the Catholics,
    and I didn’t speak out because I was Protestant.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  6. OH NOOOoooooooooooo

    47 Identified as deniers of climate change

    Denis Phillips of WFTS-TV Tampa , FL
    Mark Nolan of WKYC Cleveland, OH
    Mark Scirto of KLTV-TV Tyler, TX
    Bernie Rayno of AccuWeather ,

    Just to name a few of the evil deniers. Wonder if they will be required to get a tattoo or where something on their clothes to make it definitive to everyone that they in fact are deniers.

  7. Me Thinks reedumacation camps will be soon to follow

    In order to convince meteorologists to forecast the facts, we have to know where they stand. So we’re tracking meteorologists’ attitudes toward climate change across the country.

    Here’s our methodology.

    Know what your meteorologist thinks? Drop us a line:

  8. Holding TV Meteorologists Accountable
    20 Jan 2012 | Mike Palamuso

    If you’ve tuned into your local TV weather report lately, there’s a chance you may heard some crazy ideas about climate change. Take San Diego weatherman John Coleman, who said on air:

    “It’s amazing to me … how many billions of dollars apparently our governments are going to spend of our tax dollars to combat something that isn’t real … As a scientist, I know that global warming doesn’t really exist at all.”

    Sadly, Coleman is not alone. Nearly half of TV meteorologists doubt that climate change is real, and over 60% believe it’s not man made, according to a major survey of meteorologists.

  9. i707, if you were looking at birds in Tucson in the early 60s, it was the model LGM-25C Titan II more than likely. A beautiful rocket, and I thought it was much prettier than the Titan I (model HGM-25A).

    I disagree with the cooperation of weather services to the public detriment. I have always been satisfied with the wx briefings I got from the FAA, all of which were based on NOAA data. They have kept me alive, and I rate that right up there with ice cream, sex and good landings.

  10. Turning Republican presidential primaries into horse races.
    Turning hurricane watches into NASCAR races is also fine.
    Turning our kids into helicopter born killers and drone pilots is also fine.
    Making everybody want their 15 minutes of fame even if the only stage is the one in the living room is just fine too.

    Add your selections to the list.
    The more the sicker it gets.

  11. raff,

    OS and i707 are using all kinds of scientific jargon and I am getting a math headache.

    I use the NOAA and they are only right half of the time.

  12. As for choosing between public and private.
    IMHO, they both have agendas. Private is completely totalitarian.
    Public is only half, so far. Give me the GAO and CRS and few more like them—-plus “box tests” yearly for all politicians and GS 16’s and above.

  13. O Scribe,
    Seems to me that both sides cooperate rather well to the publics detriment.
    And Titan IIs, were they the ones I nightscanned outside of Tucson in ’61? Or Titan Ones? They were big and clear.
    And mine was a K&E. And it was the LEM motor tests tor me in ’64..

    As to maps, speaking from public knowledge: all mateials are vetted by and under the responsibility of the inteeligence analysis half; before it is passed on the usere, internal or external.

    As for CIA domestic operations; 90% work stateside. What do they do?
    Drones all, as in bee drones; not AWS drones who do an honest days work.

  14. Great article Mark. It is amazing how privatizing everything is the answer. We just can’t get away from Milton Friedman’s crap that has proved so successful in Chile and Argentina and Russia.
    I am with OS in that I have no problem with private forecasting companies, but the government has an important role in obtaining this information for our safety, for the safety of our military and for the airline industry.

  15. idealist707, I am well aware of the chilled O-ring and Richard Feynman’s electrifying demonstration. One of my good friends is a physicist who knew Feynman rather well. And I still have my old slide rule from when I worked on the Titan II project.

    I am aware that government agencies can vie for stupid, as we saw in the aftermath of Katrina and other disasters. Their motives are more often driven by political agendas than profit motive. At the moment, I trust politics more than industry investors and beancounters.

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