We humans. We tend to make mistakes. It’s in our nature to do so. It’s written in our DNA.
Furthermore, when we err, as long as the inaccuracy was an innocent one and with no real harm being done, we deserve to be forgiven and then vow to do our absolute darnedest to see to it that the identical misstep not be made again.
But just as mistakes can be ego-deflating (we feel bad when we make them), misjudgments can act as a teaching device to instruct us to next time do, try, say or write things differently and, with luck in our corner, we’ll get things right. Uh, who was it, Thomas Edison, who after what, more than 1,400 attempts, finally got the incandescent lightbulb right? Talking about having a “lightbulb moment,” this has to be the epitome.
Understandable – and forgivable – since in nearly all design, engineering, medicine, science, technology, invention-based, etc. work, trial and error is part and parcel of the process.
In a similar vein, related to things we read, hear, write or say having to do with the natural sciences, dealing with, for example, the climate, weather, air, environment, ecosystems, global temperature change, what-have-you, and in the reporting of, it is essential to get the dialogue, data, information, the lowdown, if you will, correct. If not, credibility could be called into question, obviously.
So, I’ll start with mainstream television broadcast news, weather and air-quality reporting.
Get and keep the message straight!
Near-miss. I’m sure there is a correct way to use this term, but the way I’m used to hearing it used, well, it definitely misses its mark. In fact, many are veering away from its use, preferring instead to substitute “near-collision” in its place. If a near-collision (which implies multiple objects narrowly missing one another) and a collision (which implies multiple objects coming into contact with one another) can’t possibly imply or mean the same thing, then tell me how it is even possible for near-miss and miss to do likewise? Answer is: It can’t.
NOAA. So, yesterday I watched two different weather reports – one local and one national – and both reporters referred to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
as simply “NOAA.” Okay, so maybe I can understand NASA used in acronymic form. I’m pretty sure most people know what NASA stands for (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration). But, “NOAA”? I see this with other organizational identities like “NHTSA” for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You get the idea.
Across the board. This to me implies the whole, the entirety, in toto. Keeping this in mind, I tuned into the weather report recently and I heard the reporter state that air quality for the Valley counties listed (Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings and Tulare counties) was good across the board.
Turns out air quality was good for Merced, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties. Fresno county’s, on the other hand, was reported to be in the moderate range.
Taking this for face value, I thought: Across-the-board good. Really! It is at this point in my coming to the reporter’s defense, reminding folks we are human and to err is to be human. No one’s perfect. Oh, and there’s that.
On a similar note, I so often hear meteorologists remark, especially after a long spell of bad-area-air quality, how nice it would be to get a good stirring of the atmosphere or a precipitation event to move out or cleanse that bad-area air.
It is my sincerest hope that that message isn’t lost on the community as a whole. And, I do mean everyone. Why? Because what this implies is that there are certain types of weather conditions that can assist in air cleaning, just as there are certain other types of weather conditions that do the opposite, that is to say that such aids in the buildup of pollutants in air. I’m pretty certain that is a well-understood construct here in the San Joaquin Valley.
To the Valley Air District, a quick question: Do you hear what I hear?
In an earlier version, the following sentence: “Turns out air quality was good for Merced, Merced, Kings and Tulare counties was good,” appeared. This sentence has since been modified and is now correct.
Last updated on Apr. 25, 2023 at 6:02 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
⁃ Alan Kandel
Above and corresponding, connected home-page-entry images: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)