Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Senator McCain joins Governor Jindal in Geologic Ignorance

Senator (and would-have-been president) John McCain twitters today that the #1 most egregious example of government waste is the expenditure of $325,000 "to study seismic activity in Memphis, TN". This statement echoes Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's statement last fall that the government was wasting $140 million on something called volcano monitoring.

Maybe McCain doesn't like that the money is spent under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, but the statement does reveal some appalling ignorance. The region around Memphis (and New Madrid, MO) was shaken by three massive earthquakes in 1811-12. It is one of the more dangerous seismic zones in the country that isn't named California, Alaska or Washington. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most enigmatic, being in the interior of a lithospheric plate, meaning there are no obvious reasons for earthquakes to be happening there. What is also not well-understood is the recurrence interval; when will the next large earthquakes strike? We don't know, hence the justification for studying "seismic activity".

I dunno. It seems to me that "homeland security" means something along the lines of keeping the populace safe from harm, whether the cause is "terrorism", or from natural disasters. I don't usually blog politics, but this is not smart politics.


Gaelyn said...

Guess these ignorant SOBs don't understand the true meaning of homeland security. Too busy playing war games.

SciGuy315 said...

McCain should remember those events from his childhood.