I couldn’t believe it either.
Remember all the flap about a flurry of earthquakes in the Yellowstone Caldera over the Christmas holidays? Volcano monitoring is critical to safety in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska — not to mention Hawaii’s special circumstances — and to all neighboring states or those within downwind striking distance of a volcanic event.
A volcanic field now in southern Idaho erupted a few millions of years ago, spreading ash that killed creatures as far away as Nebraska. “Neighboring state” covers a lot of territory.
So, Bobby Jindal, in his response to the Obama budget proposal speech, said the U.S. should get out of the volcano monitoring business. It was not clear whether there were no rocks in his head, but neither was there knowledge about rocks where it should be in his head.
- DID HE SERIOUSLY JUST SAY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE MONITORING VOLCANOES??!?!!!????@#$@!
Ignoring for the sake of argument the value of the basic science that always results from the data collected during routine monitoring – ignoring the general function of increased spending as an economic stimulus to the nation’s earth scientists, instrument manufacturers, etc., – even ignoring all that, volcano monitoring is still a very sensible investment in national security. A $1.5 million investment in monitoring at Pinatubo (near a U.S. air force base) earned a greater than 300-fold return when the volcano erupted explosively in 1991: hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property (mostly airplanes) was saved, as were thousands of lives. That 30,000% figure comes before you attempt to put a value on human life.
But then, Sarah Palin is in one of those areas where a failure to monitor volcanoes might lead to huge disaster. It’s an unusual way to knock out a political rival, and not certain, but were Sarah Palin to disappear into a volcanic cloud, Bobby Jindal’s path to the Republican nomination for president might be less cluttered. He’s a Rhodes Scholar — surely he can’t be that stupid about volcanoes, so the evil alternative, that he hopes to get rid of Palin, is the only thing that makes sense, isn’t it?
Is there no one in the Republican Party who will stand up for science and reason?