I did not watch President Obama’s State of the Union Address, but the geoblogosphere is abuzz about something Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal had in his Republican Party response:
But Democratic leaders in Congress — they rejected this approach. Instead of trusting us to make wise decisions with our own money, they passed the largest government spending bill in history, with a price tag of more than $1 trillion with interest. While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. [This includes] $140 million for something called “volcano monitoring.” Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, D.C.
That was a rather clueless statement. Has he never heard of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, or other major Cascade Range volcanoes, each of which is capable of killing hundreds or thousands of people, and causing hundreds of millions or multiple billions of dollars of damage? Or the threat of volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to aviation? Or the even greater, though more remote, threat of giant calderas such as Long Valley in California, or Yellowstone? We can debate about the budget for “volcano monitoring” but to put it in the category of “wasteful spending” as Jindal did is just plain ignorance.
Perhaps we should axe the National Weather Service’s budget for tracking tropical storms. After all, who would ever need to know that a hurricane was about to hit, ummm… Louisiana.
HT: This is in many places in the geoblogosphere. The Volcanism Blog has a list of geobloggers who have commented on this.
Grace and Peace
P.S. Here are two useful articles:
Scientific American: Bobby Jindal and volcano monitoring: What was he talking about?
Volcano monitoring likely saved many lives — and significant money — in the case of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines (where the United States had military bases at the time), according to the USGS. The cataclysmic eruption lasted more than 10 hours and sent a cloud of ash as high as 22 miles into the air that grew to more than 300 miles across. The USGS spent less than $1.5 million monitoring the volcano and was able to warn of the impending eruption, which allowed authorities to evacuate residents, as well as aircraft and other equipment from U.S. bases there. The USGS estimates that the efforts saved thousands of lives and prevented property losses of at least $250 million (considered a conservative figure). [emphasis added]