Governor Jindal, allow me to explain to you why we need to monitor volcanoes:
Perhaps you've heard of Yellowstone National Park, in the northwest corner of Wyoming. What you might not be aware of is that Yellowstone Park--nearly all 2.2 million acres of it--is a gigantic volcano caldera. A caldera, in case you are not aware, is the hole in a volcano where the lava comes out. Let me reiterate, because this is very important: the caldera is not IN Yellowstone Park; Yellowstone Park IS the caldera--that's how big it is. To put it another way, Yellowstone Park is a volcano, but not just any volcano; they call it a supervolcano. And it's still active. In point of fact, it's the largest active volcano in the world. They figure that it erupts every 600,000 years or so, and the last time it erupted was 630,000 years ago.
So basically, our great nation is sitting atop a huge ticking time bomb, which could theoretically go off at any time. If, God forbid, it does so during our lifetimes it won't just be a national emergency, it will be a worldwide emergency. As bad as Hurricane Katrina was--and I in no way mean to minimize the devastation and suffering that it caused--if, God forbid, Yellowstone were to blow during our lifetimes it would make Hurricane Katrina look like a refreshing April shower.
Now, to be fair, I can kind of see an argument against monitoring it; if, God forbid, it were to blow, it would be a catastrophe unlike anything the homo sapient race has ever experienced, and how do you possibly prepare for something like that? And if we can't prepare for it, maybe we're better off not knowing. On the other hand, if there IS something that we can do to prepare for it, we're probably better off doing it. And part of preparing, if any preparation is possible, is monitoring the situation so we have an idea of when our preparations will have to be put into action, just as meteorologists monitor hurricanes to try to predict where and when and with how much force they are going to hit. Of course, that doesn't always mean that they predict correctly, and it doesn't always mean that people are prepared for every contingency, but the knowledge that comes of monitoring the situation is a vital part of the preparation process.
Bottom line, Governor Jindal; if, God forbid, Yellowstone blows within our lifetimes, it probably won't make much difference to me, nor to most of us who live in the western and midwestern states, whether or not the government spent money on trying to prepare because, if we're lucky, we'll be killed instantly. Make no mistake about it; those killed instantly would be the lucky ones. But those of you in the southern and eastern states might be unfortunate enough to survive long enough to see the aftermath, and if you do survive, you just might be grateful that the federal government took the time and spent the money to monitor the situation and prepare for it. Or, if you and your Republican cohorts succeed in bankrupting the effort to monitor the Yellowstone situation, you might just live to regret it.
And a happy Mardi Gras to you, sir.
Incidentally, the source I have cited in this little essay is A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, published by Broadway Books, copyright 2003. It's a very well-researched and accessibly written book, an excellent read if you want to have the ever-loving crap scared out of you.