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Feb 25 / Dave Schumaker

Something called volcano monitoring


I didn’t realize that one of the GOP’s up and coming political stars was such an idiot. But few things surprise me about the GOP these days.

Last night, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal was tasked with responding to Barack Obama’s speech to a joint session of congress. During Jindal’s speech, he raised a rather asinine question that has the geoblogosphere, and even the larger scientific community, up in arms.

While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded [sic] with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government, $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a “magnetic levitation” line from Las Vegas to Disneyland, 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.

Last night, Maria Brumm (Green Gabbro) was the first person in the geoblogosphere to pen a response, and she raised some excellent points:

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.

This kind of talk from the governor of a state that has already faced a disaster of unimaginable scale is completely appalling and surprising.

Of course this type of talk from a Republican politician isn’t new and shouldn’t surprise us. It just underlies their fundamental war against anything related to science.

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