Below is a sneak-peek at my next article for the Perpetual Post, in response to Bobby Jindal’s remark last week:  “Volcanoes Should Be Monitored”.  Howard’s rebuttal: “Volcanoes: Free Market!” can be found here.


The idea that volcano monitoring is wasteful spending is ludicrous. This statement, made by Governor Bobby Jindal after the President’s televised speech to a joint session of Congress last week, was witnessed by millions-which in itself is extremely dangerous. Not only do volcanoes need to be monitored, but they need to KNOW that they are being monitored, so they don’t get any ideas.

Americans are a fussy, over-attentive people. We monitor our blood sugar, our lavish houses, and our sleeping babies-and none of those things, with the possible exception of the babies, have the potential to release explosive clouds of noxious fumes and ash into the atmosphere, followed by torrents of deadly molten lava. (Even if the babies do release clouds of noxious fumes, they are unlikely to level an entire village.)

The careful observation of unpredictable and potentially devastating natural energies gives our government the chance to avert catastrophes and save countless human lives. And even in situations where natural disasters are unpreventable, officials can still react quickly and efficiently to avert a crisis-that is, if the government feels like bothering, and has the time to intervene. Sometimes, it’s a little busy, and people need to take care of themselves.

Sure, $140 million may seem like a lot of money to spend on volcano monitoring, but citizens should keep in mind that the technologies used for surveillance are constantly developing and improving. In fact, in recent years, modern strategies have included encouraging volcanoes to join online social networking sites. This is a tremendous help to volcano monitoring teams, since it gives them up-to-the-minute information on certain volcanoes. They know immediately which fiery craters were at Mount Kilimanjaro’s New Year’s Eve party, and which are in a bad mood because Studio 60 got cancelled. Status messages such as, “Mount Shasta is feelin kinda restless and explodey lately“, or “Mauna Kea is watch out people!” are invaluable, as they tell us precisely, in a crater’s own words, what we may be able to expect from it. Learning through Facebook that, “Mount St. Helens can’t remember the last time I tasted a virgin’s blood…hint, hint!“, tells volcano monitors that they’d better get moving and scare up a few virgins to placate that particular volcano.

Which leads to my final point: Without keeping tabs on volcano activity, how will we know when the Gods are angry with us? Who will tell us that Pele is pleased, or that Keuakepo is in the mood for revenge? Clearly, no price is too high for volcano monitoring.