Eruptions

Redoubt takes over the headlines

It is either a slow news day, or something about the eruption watch at Redoubt has captured the attention of someone at CNN.com as it is now the headline on the website (see above). This is interesting (and odd) to me considering that, over the last few days, very little has changed in the status of Redoubt. In fact, AVO has said things have, in fact, settled down a bit. However, they are still thinking that an eruption is imminent, but maybe in the scales of days to weeks rather than hours. The Anchorage Daily News does have a nice map of Anchorage’s area volcanoes and when they last erupted (see below). Beyond this, the news at Redoubt is, well, there is no news except they are keeping an eye on it.

In a sidenote while we’re on the subject of headlines, ABC News is making a big deal that the Stimulus bill recently passed contained this (as an example of waste):

  • $200 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor earthquakes and volcanoes

Now, I don’t want to get into politics, but can someone explain to me how this is waste considering the lack of funding for most volcano and earthquake monitoring facilities? I’m excited to see the USGS getting more money for this stuff – and yes, it does create jobs because the USGS can hire more people to monitor volcanoes and seismically active area.

Comments

  1. #1 Hawkeye
    January 29, 2009

    As a volcano enthusiast I can’t complain about the USGS receiving more money to monitor volcanoes. However, this kind of thing is called “waste” because it really has nothing to do with economic stimulus. They may be getting $200 million, but I doubt they would add more than a few people to the staff… not exactly what most people have in mind when they think of job creation. I’m guessing much of that money would be put into adding additional sensors to high-priority volcanoes. Even that really isn’t too high-priority. It could easily be another 50 years before we hear a mouse-fart from any of the non-St Helens Cascade volcanoes.

  2. #2 Lara
    January 29, 2009

    Hawkeye, I hear you, but I don’t agree. Our infrastructure has been completely ignored over the last 10 years. You’re thinking about a volcano, but I can’t help but think of the New Madrid fault zone and the lack of knowledge we have concerning it. It’s not hyperbolic to look ahead regarding that particular situation. I consider the USGS to be extremely important to our infrastructure as we will be looking to improve or build new roads, bridges, dams, and other projects of the sort. The USGS plays a huge role in providing information on where and how these things shoudl be built, or if they should be built at all. I think we need to fix things at all stages; fix things now AND get things in order for the future.

  3. #3 EKoh
    January 29, 2009

    It may also be considered waste because many people think that while volcanoes are “cool”, studying is like studying dinosaurs -cool but not relevant to day to day life. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Some large eruptions develop quite quickly and a Plinian event from a poorly monitored Mt. Shasta, for example, could have a much larger economic impact than Katrina. In another case, even a small eruption at Rainier could create a large lahar that would sweep all the way to Puget Sound. A third example would be a caldera-forming event at one of the obscure Aleutian volcanoes that would have a global climate impact and possibly generate a teletsunami. Better research and monitoring will not prevent these events, but allow better warning and preparedness. They may not happen for centuries, but could happen tomorrow.

    So does the $200 million directly create (many) jobs? No. Does it help long term economic security? YES.

    Most of us will never have a fire in our house. But you would be a complete moron not to pay for smoke detectors and homeowners insurance!

  4. #4 Bruce
    January 29, 2009

    ugghh, politics..

    yep 200 million is a load of money.
    yep, the economy is in the pits.
    yep,
    yep,
    yep.

    but what is 200 million compared to the overall US budget? I don’t even want to get into it. The “added value”, if that is the term you need to use to convince these knuckleheads, of this pittance is immense. Saving even one life is immeasureable. This research is VERY VERY LIKELY in fact ALMOST CERTAIN to save innumerable lives. I fully understand that the government needs to save money. But this is one of the last areas I would look at. There are loads of other areas where patent inefficiencies and misspending abound. Start there. Please.

  5. #5 Brian_in_Bellingham
    January 29, 2009

    The problem is that this is a STIMULUS bill, not a regular budget bill. I think a lot of people, including myself, are ok with more money to monitor volcanoes, but the purpose of this bill is not public safety but to STIMULATE the economy. This is NOT the regular budget that congress passes every year. That is where this money should be appropriated from. People want honesty from their politicians, and they are not getting it.

    An analogy. You have been in an accident, and are dying. The ER doc gets to you, and starts telling you about how you should be dieting and exercising. Great adivce, but you are DYING now, you need emergency help NOW. But if you complain, people will say you are against dieting and exercising. No, you are not against that, but you need to get out of this emergency first, then start talking about diet and excercise.

  6. #6 David
    January 30, 2009

    seismic activity has increased over the past 3 hours where Redoubt is

    volcanoes.usgs.gov/avo/webicorders/RSO24hr_heli.png

  7. #7 crosspatch
    January 30, 2009

    “can someone explain to me how this is waste”

    It isn’t waste but it doesn’t belong in an “economic stimulus” bill. It belongs in the regular government appropriations bill. That money is not an economic stimulant that will inject cash into the general economy to bootstrap the kinds of businesses that employ large numbers of people.

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