Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano erupted yesterday, in one of the inevitable-but-when events that characterize the relationship between the people who live there and the ground beneath their feet; a telling line from one of the affected residents was that he knew it would someday happen when he moved to the area fourteen years before. Volcanoes aren't good neighbors but for some people, the appeal of living in a tropical paradise outweighs the risk of having to walk away. The island's volcanoes are, generally, a disaster you can escape afoot and often, an industrious person with a wheelbarrow could get most of their belongings away, too; living comfortably as I do in a city that could find itself in sorry shape if the New Madrid fault* decided to let go again, I haven't any room to criticize Hawaiians for living on the edge of potentially lava-spewing lands.
CBS, on the other hand, has lost their thesaurus, or perhaps it has slipped the leash. In reporting the eruption, they delivered this gem:
"Volcano officials said they couldn't predict how long Thursday's eruption might last."
I've been looking and I can't find any executive-level members of the management of Kilauea Volcano; the place doesn't even seem to have a press office! The island is well awash in vulcanologists; the U.S. Geological Survey is all over it and they even have a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory staffed with highly qualified geophysicists and geologists and managers and techs and janitors and so on. But volcano officials? Not a one. It's almost as if the things were a natural phenomenon!
I'm tempted to regard this as an example of the actual unconscious bias in the news business: the notion that if there's something happening, someone must be in charge of it.
* In looking that up, I encountered the Wabash Valley Seismic Zone, much closer to home. Not terribly comforting -- and don't get too comfortable where you are, either. This beautiful planet is a dangerous place.
6 months ago