I don’t know what to make of the report that 5G wireless is going to seriously impair weather forecasting. There are quotes from public officials and academics who all assert that interference with satellite measurements of atmospheric moisture will set back weather forcasting by decades. I often use atmospheric models and hurricane track cones of uncertainty to illustrate how mathematical models aid decision making. Here that decision making can save lives and millions in property losses.
Why do I resist believing this is as big a problem as it appears to be? Perhaps I think the idea that my government would act so contrary to the public good is inconsistant with my core beliefs about how society functions. The report is full of both the usual equivocation we scientists love (“it appears…”, “if true, this would mean that . . .”) and bombastic flat out assertions of crisis. There’s no reporting from the other side even. No industry scientists claiming the threat is overblown and there are simple technical fixes. Even though it seems that the problem real, I’m left with the feeling that this is interesting and a potential threat. Well, I think, let’s see what happens.
I recently wrote about how we make perceptual decisions in our view of the world at levels that are not accessible to awareness. Certainty is one of qualities we seem to be able to access. Belief can feel strong or week, but the reasons for doubt seem post-hoc and come after the gut feeling of belief. So if I’m doubting that our weather forecasting systems are about to be deeply impaired by the greed of commercial interests working hand in hand with my elected representatives, that’s a feeling not some deeply argued rational conclusion. I really deon’t know. I don’t have any more information that might strengthen or weaken that belief. I’m not really motivated enough to dig deeper, confirming my level of uncertainty.
And yes, if people start dying because of increased uncertainty in extreme weather event forecasting, I guess then at least I’ll remember having read something about this possibility. Certainly the overwhelmings odds will be that I’ll be enjoying my fast 5G mobile internet connection from somewhere safe and not be in the midst of a deadly hurricane that wasn’t forecasted accurately enough.