Well that’s nice to know at least.
I was absolutely shocked and appalled to read about a proposed amendment to existing legislation regarding the reporting of weather. Essentially it will be an offence under the law to issue a ‘severe weather warning’ without first having the written permission of the SA weather bureau.
The problem is that there is no definition as to what constitutes a ‘severe weather warning’ in the legislation and so I guess it is up to the weather bureau to decide.
I guess that the [twisted] logic behind this is to prevent any old idiot spreading panic by giving warnings without having any actual facts to back them up. This would make sense if it wasn’t for the fact that predicting weather is still a guess, no matter how many super computers are backing you up. How many times have I watched the wind switch to the south east, the high clouds begin to build and the temperature plummet; only to be told on the evening news that an impending cold front is going to go far to the south of us. Really? Then 12 hours later you can’t see the other side of Fish Hoek valley. In this situation, who should be giving the warning of impending bad weather? Under the new laws, if I write that a storm looks imminent, even if it is as black as night over Kommetjie way, I can face prosecution because I didn’t get written permission to say so.
And what will thumbing my nose at the new weather warning law potentially cost me?
The maximum fine is up to R10 million, and potentially 10 years in jail. A first offence can land you 5 years in the clink.
Bureaucracy gone mad? Certainly! But with such hefty penalties it seems a little stupid to take the chance, so no more posts on what weather could be on the way unless it is backed up with a permission slip from big brother, or until I know for fact exactly what I can or cannot write about.