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A Weather-proof Nation

Plaque outside of House Science Committee Hearing Room, 2325 Rayburn HOB

It’s not very often that a reference librarian gets to attend a House Science Committee briefing, but this week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend one. Being the self-proclaimed weather gal at the Library,  I was thrilled when an invitation to attend a committee briefing related to weather was forwarded to me by my section head, Constance Carter. Sponsored by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the Weather Coalition, the expert panel discussed the need for the first-ever U.S. Weather Commission.

Generally speaking, a congressional commission is a body that is to study and investigate a problem, issue, or event; give independent advice; and make recommendations for public policy. It is a multi-member independent entity established and appointed by Congress, exists temporarily, serves in an advisory capacity, and reports to Congress. Since 1989, there have been over 90 congressional commissions established that focus on policy, investigations or commemorations. Recent science-related commissions include the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development.

Jennifer in the House Science Committee Hearing Room, 2325 Rayburn HOB after a briefing on the U.S. Weather Commission, 9/27/2012.

During the briefing, I learned about the diverse cast of players in federal agencies, research communities, industry, and state / local governments that provide weather expertise and their desire to have an organized focal point among them that will combine efforts and share responsibilities. The briefing highlighted how dangerous and costly weather can be to our livelihoods. It also referenced the 2012 National Academies report Weather Services for the Nation: Becoming Second to None, which discusses the need for improvements to the National Weather Service.

In short, the panel of experts believes that a U.S. Weather Commission “would advise federal policymakers on setting priorities for improving forecasts and creating a more weather-proof nation.”

Robber Barons: Gould and Fisk

The names Jay Gould and James Fisk Jr. are linked in American business history in the age of “robber barons.”  Together, they controlled the Erie Railroad, were part of the Tammany Hall set, and wrangled with J.P. Morgan over the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad. James Fisk, Jr.was born April 1, 1835 in Pownal, VT. His […]

Fear the Turtle or Eat the Turtle

Today’s post is by 2012 Junior Fellow Brian Horowitz of the University of Maryland, College Park. The Diamondback Terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin) is both the Maryland state reptile and the official mascot of the University of Maryland (UMD).  The bronze statue of Testudo, a gift from the class of 1933, sits with pride on the campus at College […]

Five Questions (Intern Edition): Shayela Hassan

With summer winding down and our interns returning to school, we are featuring a Five Questions post with intern Shayela Hassan. Shayela’s assignment in our division gave her the opportunity to immerse herself in the Library’s collection of cookery and food history books. 1. What is your background? I’m a first-generation American girl born to […]