About a week ago, I wrote a post entitled Volcano in Your Backyard, which was initiated by the Governor of Louisiana’s comment that spending money on volcano monitoring was an other example of wasteful spending by the government.
February 8, 1984, I was on board a Delta Airlines flight from Atlanta to Portland, and as we approached the region, I was able to take this picture of Mount St. Helens during its activity in the early 1980s. You can view the volcano today by linking to the Mount St. Helens Volcanocams located on the Johnston Ridge Observatory. There is no doubt that Governor Jindal was unaware of the USGS Volcano Hazards Program; indeed if he had, he wouldn’t have stuck his foot in his mouth. It amazes me that any governor would make such a claim disparaging important monitoring programs, but especially the Governor of Louisiana, a state which has been ravished by hurricanes. He ought to be aware that we fund the National Hurricane Center, a monitoring program that has unfortunately become more important to us in the past five years.
It is March 1, and in Atlanta as well as much of the Southeast, it is snowing.
Meteorologists predicted this storm, and their monitoring efforts certainly play an important role in our lives. Living in Atlanta, we have our share of thunderstorms, and tornadoes and the monitoring efforts of meteorologists is extremely important, and people come to expect a high degree of accuracy.
In April 1998, as Director of the Global Thinking Project, I was part of a large delegation of American middle and high school students and their teachers participating in a conference in Moscow, Russia. We had just finished a three week exchange period during which time Russian students and their teachers had hosted the Americans. The students were involved in an exchange project that focused on environmental science as part of the GTP. April in Moscow is a lovely period of time to be there, and to enjoy the Moscow Spring. More than 100 Americans and Russians were staying at the Ukraine Hotel in Moscow having arrived there on April 13 for a four day conference which was held nearby at School 710. On April 14th, the heaviest mid-April snowstorm in more than 100 years fell on Moscow.
All of the participants in the GTP conference enjoyed the surprise snowstorm, except for the mayor of Moscow. According to the major’s office, cars were stuck in slush, trees were down, and the huge fleet of snow plows still could not get the city out of gridlock. Because of the lack of warning, the major decided to terminate the contract of the federal weather service that provided weather reports, and set up its own weather service.
The GTP conferenced was not deterred by the snowstorm. We walked to School 710 each day, and by the time of the conference, the roads had cleared, and we were able to order a lunch each day for 125 participants from Moscow’s first McDonalds.