Several volcanoes are poised to erupt with huge implications on climate, people and the economy.
The most imminent is Mount Agung in Bali. On September 22, 2017, scientists issued a warning that Mt. Agung was likely to erupt again. The possible eruption of this stratovolcano is turning into a serious economic problem, with more than 150,000 evacuated and the tourist economy decimated. Today, Agung continues to rumble, but it is not showing signs of immediate eruption which is becoming a growing cost for the Indonesian economy.
The main reason for funding research on natural hazards such as volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and such is so that scientists might be able to predict when such calamities might occur, how severe they might be, and how we can reduce life loss and destruction.
In the late 1970’s, when scientists thought that earthquakes might be predictable, Dr. Ward led the US national earthquake prediction program. He worked with many sociologists on how best to communicate uncertain risk with the public. Predict an event too soon and the economic results of the prediction could be more expensive than the damage ultimately caused by the event. Failure to communicate risk soon enough and many people could die.
Tourism is the cornerstone of Bali’s economy. The longer the warning, the more business will have to close because they will have no money left to operate. Yet saving lives is the main priority. Sadly, the future is uncertain for this beautiful island.
Dr. Ward worked 27 years with the United States Geological Survey as research geophysicist, branch chief, and program manager. He helped develop and manage a major national research program, chaired a committee at the White House, testified before Congress, worked on a committee for Vice President Gore, published more than 50 scientific papers, and won two national awards for explaining science to the general public. He retired in 1998, working intensely for the past decade trying to resolve several enigmatic observations related to climate change.
Ward’s analysis and theory are explained in detail on his website and in his new book “What Really Causes Global Warming? Greenhouse Gases or Ozone Depletion?”
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