Climate scientists fear new administration will cut NASA's funding for research.
One of President-Elect Donald Trump’s senior advisers is indicating the new president may be planning to shift the focus and funding of NASA’s Earth sciences program to increase deep-space exploration, according to a report on ecowatch.com.
Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser, claims the agency should not be focusing its efforts on “politically correct environmental monitoring,” according to the article, and added the administration sees NASA’s role as exploration of deep space. He contends climate sciences are better suited to other agencies where it is their primary focus.
Not surprisingly, climate scientists are up in arms over the comments. Michael Mann, climate scientist at Penn State University,commented to the Guardian, “Without the support of NASA, not only the U.S. but the entire world would be taking a hard hit when it comes to understanding the behavior of our climate and the threats posed by human-caused climate change.”
Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told the newspaper scrapping the program at NASA “could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ of almost the pre-satellite era,” and added the move would be extremely short-sighted.
The NASA program expanded by about 50 percent during President Obama’s administration, and now has a large share of the total funding supplies to NASA. The agency maintains a fleet of satellites the collect temperature data, greenhouse emission data, and information on patterns of rainfall vegetation growth, among other items.
However, with Republicans now in control of both houses and the presidency, it remains to be seen how willingly those in power will support climate change research. Even Trump himself has in the past called climate change politically motivated.
And scientists around the world are up in arms about the proposal. According to the Ecowatch article, Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, called slashing the funding “a shockingly stupid move” in comments to the Sydney Morning Herald.
Others say the move won’t be easy to do, given the complexity of federal bureaucracy. No one denies the need for deep-space exploration, but most climate scientists say we need to keep focused on the climate issues currently facing the planet we are living on today.