Saturday, September 16, 2017

Meteorology is science too. Should public hurricane and tornado warnings use kilometers instead of miles?

“On issue of sea level rise, use inches instead of the metric system for public to better understand?”

A blog post from 8 months ago (see below, “Without further ado. . .”) continues to draw a lot of attention.

And a lot of ire as well.

Since last January a former Lake Worth commissioner with a science degree from Cornell lost his re-election bid to a young newcomer in politics. The blog post below had zero effect on the outcome. However, it was after seeing a political mailer from Chris McVoy, PhD, reminding the public once again about his efforts to battle sea level rise (SLR), a question came to mind:

“Does the public in our City understand the issue of SLR any better since McVoy was first elected in 2010? Or not?”

True. Our country no longer uses the “Imperial Standard” of measurement. In the comment section below was taken to task and quite deservedly so. But if I may, a few questions:
  • Almost everyone in South Florida knows how many miles Cuba is from Key West. But how many can calculate that into kilometers? (On the fly, the number 1.6 is a good way but how many people know that?)
  • Local weather reporters, using information gleaned from the National Weather Service (again, science), doesn’t use the metric system to let us know how much rainfall there was or to be expected.
  • There’s a proposal to sink the USS Clamagore “in about 75 feet of water”. Should the reporter have used the metric system?
  • An outfall pipe off the coast of our City may become very big news. McVoy talked about that and referred to the pipe being “¾-mile long”. Why didn’t he use the metric system?
  • Our Beach in Lake Worth is approximately 1,100′ long. Quick. Convert that into meters!
  • Should all future hurricane warnings and risks be cited in kilometers?
  • It’s very important to map turtle nests along our coast. Are all these locations/coordinates being collected using the metric system or in lengths and distances of feet?
Encourage everyone to read the blog post that follows and the comments as well. Disagree if you wish as many have done so already. For those of you unaware, you’ll find my email address in the right-hand column. Try and not use foul words please.

Without further ado. . .

Chris McVoy, PhD, knows how to calculate millimeters into inches, but do you know how? For City of Lake Worth residents puzzled about sea level rise, technical jargon, and not well-acquainted with the metric system use this link. For example,
3 millimeters (mm)  =  ≈⅛th of an inch or 0.125% of 1 [stand corrected; see comment section below] using the standard of measurement in the United States since July 4th, 1776, called the Imperial Standard.
When you hear about sea level rise from McVoy’s campaign material, is that issue more important than the ones that affect your daily life, like our roads, potholes, street lighting, and public safety? Or should the cry from the public be, “Keep It Local!”?

Lake Worth elections can be very entertaining for the rest of Palm Beach County, especially the skill and political savvy displayed by some elected’s to skirt, duck, or otherwise avoid the actual issues the City has to deal with.

Of course, there’s always issues like our Casino that haunt our City going all the way back to 2010, the year McVoy was first elected.

Lake Worth, if you didn’t know, is just one of 39 cities in Palm Beach County. With under 40,000 residents and about 6 square miles it does stand out in a very big way: The City has more than its share of difficult problems to address. And it doesn’t help matters when one City commissioner in particular tries over and over again to distract the community.

One of the ways McVoy tries to distract the community is to bring up issues like “sea level rise” (SLR), comparing Lake Worth to much larger cities like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Hoboken, NJ. It’s no secret Lake Worth is not to scale of those cities. And doesn’t Palm Beach County have a “czar” to monitor sea levels?

Although a timely topic, many in Lake Worth are very concerned that SLR is being used as a “wedge issue to distract the community from things like our crumbling roads and potholes, street lighting, and public safety. In 2014 this tactic did work when McVoy campaigned against the LW2020 bond to fix our roads. By just 25 votes that referendum failed.

Anyhow, now there’s this from a reader of this blog, something discovered on the City’s Wikipedia page* that was recently added:
“The [Lake Worth] pier is home to a tide gauge with a sporadic history, showing an above average rate of sea level rise.[18]”
Here is footnote 18:
“Mean Sea Level Trend 8722670 Lake Worth Pier”. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved December 30, 2016. [emphasis added]
However, for some perspective about the image below cited on the City’s Wikipedia page:
3.56 millimeters = approximately ⅛th of one (1) inch.
The following image is from this website:

McVoy has a PhD and he reminds people all the time about that. However, can we please stick to the “Imperial system” of inches for everyone to understand, instead of using the metric system?

*Please note: When visiting the City’s Wikipedia page always look at the very bottom of the page for a line like this, “This page was last modified. . .”, and jot down the date and time. That way you know when the page was last updated, edited, or otherwise altered the next time you visit this Wikipedia site.