Volcanos Shmalcanos: Don’t Worry Jindal, They Don’t Exist

July 22, 1980, Mount Saint Helens. © USGS, Photo by Jim Vallance.

July 22, 1980, Mount Saint Helens. © USGS, Photo by Jim Vallance.

Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, currently at code Orange.  Photo taken February 26, 2009, courtesy of AVO/USGS, photo by Jennifer Adleman.

Redoubt Volcano, Alaska, currently at code Orange. Photo taken February 26, 2009, courtesy of AVO/USGS, photo by Jennifer Adleman.

Dear Governor Bobby Jindal,

Last week, President Barack Obama’s proposed a multi-trillion dollar budget and in response you said, “And $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.”

Nicely put.  After all, in my neck of the woods, there are no such things as…volcanoes.

Sheesh.

I mean, let’s set aside the fact that unlike what you said, in reality only 10% of the $140 million you mentioned will be used for monitoring volcanoes.  The rest would be allocated across the United States Geological Service which is tasked to help monitor and aid in the prevention of damage resulting from nearly all natural disasters (pdf).  Such as wildfires.  Floods.  Tsunamis.  Oh, and hurricanes.

Kilauea, December 19, 2008.  Photo courtesy of USGS.

Kilauea, lava entering the ocean on December 19, 2008. Photo courtesy of USGS.

Wait – and earthquakes.

Hey.  Where I live there are earthquakes, lots of them.  Where my cousins live there are wildfires.  And if I recall, my friends in your wonderful state of Louisiana and relatives in Florida often get bombarded by those nasty hurricanes.

On second thought, Mr. Jindal, I think I would like to have these potential natural disasters monitored.  I want these organizations to be well funded so ordinary citizens like myself have a chance of receiving a warning in advance of disaster and potentially surviving one.

But is $14 million too much for volcanic monitoring?  It is a lot of money.  But considering that a single Boening 747 can easily cost twenty times as much, and that a single plume of volcanic ash can bring down one of these planes, and that we have 169 active volcanoes in the U.S., I’d like to think we can spare the $14 million.

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