Thanks to joejoejoe, who reminded me of this from last night’s Republican response to the SOTU address. Read a geologist“s rebuttal to Governor Bobby Jindal“s picking on a percentage of $140 million, a drop in the bucket of the stimulus package.
The $140 million to which Jindal referred is actually for a number of projects conducted by the United States Geological Survey, including volcano monitoring.
… Most of the money from the stimulus bill earmarked for monitoring (only about a tenth of the total going to the USGS) will go to modernizing existing monitoring equipment, including switching from analog to digital and installing GPS networks that can measure ground movements.
¦Volcanoes, of course, aren’t the only potential natural disaster that scientists monitor to give people warnings of imminent danger. Hurricanes, tornado-producing storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and flooding events are also watched and forecast.
… For instance, in the case of Hurricane Katrina, the Natural Hurricane Center was watching the situation like a hawk, but the subsequent preparations and responses by authorities was insufficient to prevent wholesale destruction of large parts of New Orleans and the loss of more than 1,800 lives.
As a (private-sector) geoscientist myself, I can tell you very little the USGS does is frivolous because, regardless of administration, they have never enjoyed a generous budget. Seattle-Tacoma lives in the debris flow path of Mount Rainier, Alaska“s coastline is riddled with active volcanoes (scientific research isn’t conducted only on fruit flies, Ms. Palin), San Francisco and Los Angeles live on active fault zones and much of the country lives in coastal or fluvial regions vulnerable to hurricanes and/or flooding. One can flee a hurricane days in advance (with sufficient funds and transport), but there’s not much time to spare in the case of volcanic or earthquake activity. This is why rigorous, well-funded monitoring of natural disasters is key to metropolitan survival and disaster prevention, i.e. NOT HAVING TO SPEND MORE MONEY PICKING UP DEAD AMERICAN BODIES AND CLEANING UP LATER ON. It’s not a joke and needs a lot more funding than a portion of a paltry $140 million, but apparently it’s on par with a monorail from Caesar“s Palace to Mickey Mouse that isn’t even in the stimulus package.
Considering that Louisiana (even parishes affected by the hurricane and flood, except for Orleans) voted in a whole lot of conservative Republicans in this past election, the forgetfulness and near-sightedness of this statement is not surprising. That Jindal would scoff at disaster-preparedness science and funding shows utter disregard for the safety of his own state, but it’s something we“ve come to expect. Of course, all this comes down to promoting the ideology of Republican Central, not being good public servants and serving the independent interests of a given state.
There are other things about the stimulus bill that true, America-loving patriots can destroy (see previous post) but all of the opposition’s criticism I’ve heard so far is nonsense. It’s spite for the new president, spite for the Democrats and pure spite for forethought and intellect, much required especially in these economic times, that is at play here. Nothing more, nothing less.