Wednesday, October 16, 2013

USGS, Smithsonian, Among Agencies Affected By The Shutdown

Volcano monitoring, many USGS services, and the Smithsonian were all devoid of activity updates for volcanoes during the ongoing (and hopefully nearly over) US government shudown. The Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program (GVP) website posted a message that read:

"The Smithsonian is closed due to a United States federal government shutdown. Global Volcanism Program staff are out of the office and unable to update or maintain this site until further notice. The Smithsonian/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Reports are also suspended at this time. Updates will resume when USGS staff are permitted to return to work."

Similarly, the USGS had this up:

"Due to the Federal government shutdown, usgs.gov and most associated web sites are unavailable. Only web sites necessary to protect lives and property will be maintained. Ecosystems Disease Maps National Wildlife Health Center Imagery and Geospatial Information USGS Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS) satellite and aerial imagery portal Natural Hazards USGS coastal erosion hazards information USGS earthquake information USGS information on geomagnetic activity USGS landslide information USGS volcano information Water Please see doi.gov for more shutdown information."


The US Government shutdown has lasted nearly two weeks over a budget impasse (including the funding of the Affordable Care Act, the debt ceiling, and further budgetary cuts), which paralyzed the work of the US Government, and has threatened the world with a first ever US default on its loans. Many countries have expressed dismay and outrage that the United States would even dream of getting this close to not being able to pay its bills.

While this is NOT a political blog, I feel it necessary to publicly denounce the actions of my government, and the inability of its elected representatives to come to an agreeable consensus on matters like paying the bills. It is all fine and good to have your principles, until those principles end up causing more harm than good. 

The USGS is a vital service for the USA, in regards to earthquake monitoring and response, volcano monitoring, threat assessment, and many other services. The shutdown, if a disaster would have occurred, could have cost American lives (although vital services were maintained), and it is simply unacceptable that the richest, most powerful country on this planet seems to disagree with itself so much, that they needed to prove it at the expense of people's lives that had nothing to do with budget negotiations. It is always the regular people who pay for the disagreements of the powerful.

While I won't get into my own personal political leanings, I urge you, if you are an American citizen to be mindful of whom you choose to give your vote of support, and be mindful of who your candidate is. It is true that any democratically elected government is the government that its voters deserve. Let's all hold ourselves in higher regard, and vote for quality - not quantity (ie: the content of a candidate's character and qualifications, not how many "yes" votes your party is capable of garnering).

As I am hearing now, the Senate has reached an agreement, and we are waiting to see if the House will agree to pass the measure. This is not over yet, and I am waiting with bated breath to see how this turns out, so I can get back to updating you on the actual volcanic eruptions that are going on, and not the political kind.

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