Green Gabbro

I turned on Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal’s campaign speech pre-campaign campaign insinuation pre-campaign dogwhistle fundraiser rebuttal to Obama’s speech while cooking my pancakes this evening.

I have two questions.

  1. Do Republicans (or moderates who don’t have a kneejerk anti-Republican reflex) also feel like he’s talking to the nation as though we were all kindergarteners? I was flabbergasted, but I don’t know how to properly account for my rather strong political biases here.
  2. DID HE SERIOUSLY JUST SAY THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD NOT BE MONITORING VOLCANOES??!?!!!????@#$@!

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.

Sure, not all investments will have such a payoff – or at least, we really hope that not all of the volcanoes we monitor will erupt explosively and damagingly on us. But even smaller puffs pose a considerable risk. For example, volcano monitoring is vital to aviation safety (you can think of an ash cloud as a swarm of tiny shards of glass out to ruin any jet engines it finds).

In other words: If the USGS didn’t monitor volcanoes, the Defense Department would have to. And we all know that would cost eleventy-squillion times more than the current shoestring budget.

Comments

  1. #1 Rana
    February 24, 2009

    Penny wise and pound foolish doesn’t even begin to describe this guy. It’s more like farthing wise and guinea foolish.

  2. #2 Joshua Zelinsky
    February 25, 2009

    Between Jindal and Palin the Republican party really does seem to be trying its hardest to turn into the party against science. This is unfortunate. As a someone who is more or less left of center I’d like to have some real choice in who I’m voting for. But as long as this sort of junk keeps up the answer will almost always be clear. I won’t be voting for anti-science luddites.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    February 25, 2009

    When Jindal came on, I switched to America’s Dumbest Sports Inury Videos in order to wash my brain out, then off went the tube. So I missed this particular bit of stupidity. I guess paternity tests for polar bears, or whatever, were not cutting it any more as anti-science scare tactic rhetoric.

    Interesting to note that Jindal is the gov of a state with very very few volcanoes, but a great need for scientific observation and monitoring of other natural events.

    (BTW, if you count mud or sand Volcanoes, Louisiana has an issue with those. Connect the dots, Gulf Oil Industry People: Your governor is suggesting that volcanic threats to your off shore rigs are of no consequence. And he should know. He’s a Republican. Republicans know everything about science.)

  4. #4 Tobin1973
    February 25, 2009

    Jindal needs some educating as far as volcanic hazards…no doubt there.

    http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-219563

  5. #5 OmegaMom
    February 25, 2009

    Thank you. The Mt. St. Helens eruption caused an estimated $1 billion in economic impact; a $140 million budget to monitor volcanoes–of which the U.S. has a fair number–is a pittance.

  6. #6 Garry Hayes (Geotripper)
    February 25, 2009

    Thanks for jumping on this quickly; I just posted on the same subject only to see you were already on top of it. The idiocy of these people appalls me.

  7. #7 Zachb
    February 25, 2009

    I was reading the transcript of Bobby’s rebuttal and i almost fell out of my chair when I read the thing about volcano monitoring. I hope he runs for president in 2012, and a month before the election a volcano goes off and thousands are saved by “something called volcano monitoring.” They’ll play the clip on the news over and over again and it will be the end for him.

    Also, I hope some really funny cartoons come out of this.

  8. #8 Heraclides
    February 25, 2009

    Perhaps looking wimpy compared to others might make him think again?

    He’s suggesting falling behind much less wealthy countries. This isn’t my area of science, but surely even quite small small or poor countries monitor their volcanoes? Peru? Indonesia? The Philippines? Tonga? I know Vanuatu is setting up volcano monitoring. My own country, New Zealand, certainly does. (If anyone is curious, http://geonet.org.nz/ is the place to start.)

    Try presenting him with a list of countries, their national GDP, population, etc. and if they have monitoring. Tell him if small or poorer countries like these can do it, he is a wimpy tightwad!

    Bobby Jindal: wimpy Jindy, wimpy Jindy, wimpy Jindy.

  9. #9 AW
    February 25, 2009

    Volcanoes are a lot like speeches: they blow up when you least expect it. That is, unless you read the warnings. If you do pay attention, calamity may be avoided — or at least predicted.

    But moving right along, I’m still a bit perplexed by his “something called volcano monitoring” line. I mean, is Jindal confused about what “monitoring” is, or what “volcanoes” are?

  10. #10 Callan Bentley
    February 25, 2009

    How about this, Mr. Jindal? Let’s cut volcano monitoring and cut HURRICANE monitoring…

  11. #11 jay
    February 25, 2009

    There is one critical point here though.

    The amount of cash in the ‘stimulus’ is itself dwarfed by the economy, the supposed point of the package is to apply money judiciously to key areas to enable growth disproportionate to the amount applied like adding oil at key points to a rusted machine (unless it produces disproportionate growth, it will fail)

    But it seems that it has become a laundry list for everyone’s ‘worthwhile project’. Even here the disussion is about how valuable volcano monitoring might be, but no justification whatsoever the volcano monitoring will have any critical impact on the economy.

    This is not supposed to be a big handout (one we really cannot afford as such). It’s an emergency measure that needs to be extremely targeted to produce the hoped for result if we are lucky.

    Even this discussion is talking about long term payoffs from VM, but we don’t need long term payoffs now, we need something that will put large numbers of people into productive work. I don’t see how VM will do much in that regard.

  12. #12 Academic
    February 25, 2009

    Natural resource professions are underrated and consistently devalued. National Forest Park Rangers do far more than just wear a slightly goofy uniform, but the work is not seen as critical even though they are our eyes, ears, hands and feet when it comes to monitoring and surveying our nation’s heritage. But saying that this amount for volcano monitoring does nothing for putting people to work is a bit much. That seems analogous to saying that increasing the funding for the NIH or the NSF does nothing to put people to work.

    The stimulus plan is working both to create new jobs but to also save jobs from budget cuts. I’m not an Obama cheerleader by any stretch of the imagination. I’m very, very skeptical about the stimulus idea. Yet, I will also concede that I’m not an economist; as an academic my first point of call to build my status as a researcher will be the NSF. Generally, I’m in agreement that energy, education, and health care need to be governmental fiscal priorities in the coming year. I’m just glad that as an American citizen I feel like that categorical reality matters a bit more to me than in the past 6 years.

  13. #13 humorix
    February 25, 2009

    I think that the Senator of Louisiana who wrote that there would be 1 billion deaths(dead men) before 2020 talks in the global warming, is neither far from volcanoes nor of his sex-toy favourite.

  14. #14 MRW
    February 25, 2009

    Also worth noting, as Mike Dunford pointed out, the $140 million figure is *wrong*
    http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2009/02/fact_checking_the_republican_r.php

  15. #15 Kim
    February 25, 2009

    He said WHAT?? Good grief.

  16. #16 larry o'hanlon
    February 25, 2009

    You said it. I was flabbergasted too. I was still shaking my head when I got up this morning. Hope you don’t mind if I steer my readers (earth.discovery.com) to your blog on this one. Thanks.

  17. #17 Hob
    February 25, 2009

    “DID HE SERIOUSLY JUST SAY…”

    Well, he actually said it, but I don’t think the word “serious” makes sense in this context. It’s a cynical lie, so easily undermined that he’s pretty much counting on none of his audience being serious enough to look it up. Either that, or Jindal not only doesn’t know what volcano monitoring means but also just overlooked the words “seismic and” that came right before it… and I don’t believe that.

    I’m just waiting for one of the R’s to really cut loose with the scare-quotes and the faux-naivete, and start referring to “some kind of program called ‘Social Security'”. Or “This liberal bill keeps talking about the ‘U.S. Armed Forces’ – some kind of invisible forces with arms on them, yeah right.” That’ll go over well.

    Or maybe they’ll pick a different, more mature way of making any given phrase ridiculous. Like: “volcano monitoring… in bed!”

  18. #18 Tuff Cookie
    February 25, 2009

    Few things make me mad enough to spit, but this takes the cake. I think my labmate summed it up pretty well when she called Jindal a douche.

  19. #19 Kim
    February 25, 2009

    I just read Mike Dunford’s post, and I’m shaking my head even more. The line in the law is:

    equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems;

    Because nobody really cares how much water is going to be flowing down the Mississippi past the Old River Control Structure, do they? Certainly not the governor of the state on the Mississippi delta.

  20. #20 Pete Buchholz
    February 25, 2009

    I’m glad I wasn’t hearing things. I’m surprised that most of the news media focused on his kindergarten teacher cadence and bringing up Katrina; being against monitoring volcanoes takes the cake as the dumbest thing that came out of his mouth.

    My own cynical mind came to this conclusion: the only volcanoes likely to erupt in our lifetime are in blue states and in the Land of Caribou Barbie. He doesn’t care about blue states and would love to see CB lavafied.

  21. #21 larry o'hanlon
    February 25, 2009

    If you read the language of the bill (http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2009/02/fact_checking_the_republican_r.php) it suggests to me that one definite economic stimulus benefit of that $140M which is also in line with Obama’s energy policies is geothermal energy development.

  22. #22 Chaz
    February 25, 2009

    If you want to debate the value of some science program in a serious manner (or pretty much any program for that matter), that’s okay with me. But to just be like “Aw shucks, science ya’ll. Who needs it?” is more than a little irritating.

  23. #23 Maria Brumm
    February 25, 2009

    the only volcanoes likely to erupt in our lifetime are in blue states and in the Land of Caribou Barbie

    Sarah Palin can see Redoubt (et al.) from her house! She’ll tell us when they are erupting.

  24. #24 Joe Benevides
    February 26, 2009

    He’s Palin in pants! In an essay Jindal wrote in 1994 for the New Oxford Review, a serious right-wing Catholic journal, Jindal narrated a bizarre story of a personal encounter with a demon, in which he participated in an exorcism with a group of college friends. And not only did they cast out the supernatural spirit that had possessed his friend, Jindal wrote that he believes that their ritual may well have cured her cancer.

    Reading the article leaves no doubt that Jindal was completely serious about the encounter. He even said the experience “reaffirmed” his faith.

    Like Palin, BoJi is a religious fanatic and a proud, boastful ignoramus! He must’ve found his Rhodes Scholarship in a box of Cracker Jack, because I find it hard to believe anyone who attended class and paid attention to lectures would be mocking science. Especially a governor from a state prone to natural disasters! His stupidity and hypocrisy is mind-boggling!

  25. #25 Kurt
    February 26, 2009

    My jaw dropped when I heard this. Than I got outraged. Forget just geology, how about geography? There’s this thing called the Ring of Fire, Bobby. Ever heard of Mt. St. Helens? It’s still active. Well then how about Mts. Redoubt, Rainier, Hood, Bachelor, or Kilauea? You know where they are? The United States! How about no more Hurricane monitoring. How would that feel?! On behalf of all Northwesterners and Hawaiians I say: screw you Bobby Jindal.

  26. #26 BB
    February 26, 2009

    Look on the bright side: he’s likely to keep Dems on office for many a long year.

  27. #27 Anonymous
    February 26, 2009

    Thank you! I was screaming at the TV when he said that. Remember that big tsunami no one knew was coming? And, uh, Mt St Helens? Pompeii ring a fricking bell, you redneck moron?! Gah! I hope I never have to get a grant on something silly like basic cancer research past Bobby Jindal.

  28. #28 Inner Ninja
    February 26, 2009

    Perhaps Jon Stewart captures that sense of creepy paternalism you mentioned in Jindal’s saccharine tone:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=219495&title=bobby-jindals-republican

    Hee hee.

  29. #29 mark
    February 28, 2009

    Something called “Bobby Jindal” is a lying (his made-up story about Sheriff Lee & boats) sack of offal who gladly panders to the knuckle-walkers of his state (signing the anti-evolution legislation).

  30. #30 janey
    March 1, 2009

    …well, if THAT’S what a world-class education can do to a ‘fundamentalist’…

  31. #31 darko
    March 25, 2009

    Put your knee caps back in place…and chill out.

    I don’t have any doubt that he’s against scrapping volcano monitoring. His objection is adding MORE of it in a STIMULUS BILL. That’s it, nothing more.

    If someone thinks we need more of it, then it can be submitted in the proper bill just like the rest of the pork.

  32. #32 turkeyfish
    March 29, 2009

    The amazing thing is that Jindal is considered to be one of the very smartest republicans there is.

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