Last month, the Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal, in a sad and pathetic attempt to find something tangibly wrong with the stimulus package lambasted congressional democrats for trying to fund “something called volcano monitoring,”. Yesterday, Mt. Redoubt, near the Kenai Penisula in Alaska did a beautiful job of explaining to the poor fool exactly what volcano monitoring is and why it's needed. Even in its remote location the eruption of Redoubt, anticipated, tracked, and foretold by the geologists at the Alaska volcano observatory, has disrupted domestic and international air traffic, both rerouting and canceling flights. Had the prevailing wind direction been different, significant amounts of ash may have disrupted the communities on the peninsula, and if it were closer to a larger population center, the threat of serious damage and loss of life from mud flows would be real. Jindal's attitude is even more distressing when taken in the context of the presumed support that he and everyone else in his state has for continued funding for the National Weather Service. Even with the economy the way it is, we can't actually afford to be ignorant or knee-jerk in our allocation of funds, because, well, shit still happens.
photograph courtesy of the USGS, 2009