24 February

Winter Whisper: Bedlam Storm Center. Prepping, Prepping. Can We Save Spring?

by Jon Katz
Buy your batteries
Buy your batteries

Storm Center tried to crank it up for “Storm Q” as they called it, but at the farm we got a soft and slushy dusting, a whisper of a storm. I looked on Storm Center last night and noticed a slew of battery ads, and I see that storms are great for battery sales. Storm Center sent out a bunch of alerts advising people to stock up on their batteries for the storm. You could argue that stockpiling batteries is a reasonable precaution.

You could also argue that the weather forecasts are being hopelessly corrupted by the corporatizing and monetizing of weather. It’s a great opportunity for greedy media companies – climate change is clearly upon us, and we will be dealing with new  kinds of storms, almost surely forever. For me, it seems all the more reason to put  weather forecasting in the hands of people who are not doing it to sell batteries, generators, lamps and canned foods – the Weather Channel is having a field day naming its storms and finding advertisers to ride along.

They call it prepping now, a calm name for being prepared for an emergency. Nobody, least of all me, would argue against being ready for an emergency. It’s just that emergencies are supposed to be exceptions to life, and not to life itself, and when I stick my head out of my farm and look around, it seems to me that we are all living in perpetual emergency. And somebody is always around with a cup or a credit card to make some money from fear that is sold to us under the false name of news and information. They aren’t looking to make money, they are just trying to keep us safe. Who will keep us safe from the preppers?

I’m not sure how much of my time I want to spend being prepared for life as opposed to living it.

It’s a curious position for consumers of weather information – medical and other information too –  to be in. We need to know when these storms are coming, but how much do we need to know, and how often? And wouldn’t it be nice to believe the information was true and thoughtfully produced, and not about selling and buying more things in the Corporate Nation. My neighbor has enough batteries in his basement to get to the Moon. He buys some every time there is a storm, because the forecasters warm him they might not be fresh.

Weather is about information, it seems but not about the drama and hype and hysteria that draw traffic and advertisers to weather sites. I choose to focus on the the beauty of the storms, on the messages they are sending us to pay attention to the earth – not a message that comes from the battery makers – and on the eagerness we feel about Spring, just around the corner.

If Thanksgiving has been turned over to retailers, and winter to preppers, and Fall to forecasters, perhaps Spring will remain a non-profit season.

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