Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bobby Jindal -- Do you get it now?

UPDATE: I just read this post by Sam Stein at Huffington Post, via Steve Benen at Political Animal, noting that Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D) announced that half a million dollars of the $140M stimulus funds criticized as "wasteful" by Jindal were being directed to Louisiana for flood monitoring, upgrading stream gages (something I'm familiar with), and facility maintenance. At least some people in Louisiana recognize that monitoring a vital activity in an area that is subject to natural disturbances. Apparently, Jindal has not yet made up his mind whether funding improvements to disaster readiness is worthwhile.

When something called Bobby Jindal gave the Republican rebuttal speech to President Obama's not-exactly-officially state-of-the-Union speech some weeks ago, many people were dumbfounded by his criticism of Obama's stimulus package for including money for "something called volcano monitoring." Apparently Jindal, governor of Louisiana (that state right next to New Orleans of Hurricane Katrina fame) is not familiar with natural disasters. A lot of people are aware that the hazards posed by volcanoes are not trivial.

People mocked Jindal after his speech, seeing the irony of the governor of a state vulnerable to natural disasters not seeming to know about or care about the natural disasters others may have to face. When Mt. Redoubt in Alaska blew a few days ago, Jindal's "What-me-worry?" attitude was mocked anew.

Perhaps Jindal figures the only harm of erupting volcanoes is that they might frighten dinosaurs, which may then stampede. Well, Mudflats describes one aspect of the situation around the Mt. Redoubt eruption, and it is not trivial--an oil tank farm and terminal is threatened by a mudflow and possible flooding (often forgotten consequences of eruptions), and this could lead to a big oil spill in Cook inlet.

One more reason to appreciate a President who has real science advisors and is willing to listen to them.

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