Thursday, February 26, 2009


I bet the ancient people of Pompeii wished they had a volcano warning system. Unfortunately, they lacked the technology and didn't understand the warning signs.

But 1700 years later, technological and scientific research was progressing. In 1839, King Ferdinand II agreed to the construction of the Vesuvius Observatory. It was celebrated as a place of research and observation of natural phenomena. Today, the observatory is still a center for Geophysics, Volcanology, Geodesy and Geochemistry studies.

Where are we today in the US? Do our politicians possess the same logic, forethought and self-interest? Paul Krugman sums up the current philosophy of the GOP as "snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. " Of course Krugman is referring to Bobby Jindal's speech earlier this week where he attempted to discredit the economic recovery package by mocking magnetic levitation trains and volcano monitoring...

A $140 million provision of the The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act goes to the United States Geological Survey for "repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects." After all, the goal of the USGS is to reduce the vulnerability of the people and areas most at risk from natural hazards. And surely the employment of people for these projects will have the intended stimulative effect.

Jindal should know all about natural disasters, but he'd rather remain ignorant and play politics with people's lives. How is it that a king of yore was more enlightened than this guy?

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