On the Ethics of Storm-Chasing

Is chasing storms ethical? After one profit-hungry chaser published the photograph of a dying child, it's time to re-evaluate if this is acceptable.


As someone who works as a disaster researcher and consults on emergency response, the fewer people we have in the path of destruction, the better. While yes, sometimes we still need ground-truth reports from spotters, but the NOAA satellite upgrades are getting pretty fantastic. Not only that, but spotters are trained, while anyone with a death-wish can go storm chasing. I'd even be open to debating if spotters are strictly necessary — just like I advocate for using robots to investigate active volcanoes, I'm all for getting "good enough" reports from machines instead of fantastically detailed reports from people in a risky situation.

I already habitually watch chaser footage on mute; it may be time to flat-out stop watching to keep chaser footage as it escalates into disaster-porn.


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