NASA to Lose Climate Funding

A senior Trump adviser said there is no need for NASA to do what he has called “politically correct environmental monitoring”
Space photo of the northernmost portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. (Photo: NASA Goddard)Space photo of the northernmost portion of the Antarctic Peninsula. (Photo: NASA Goddard)
Trump has previously said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese

Gone are NASA’s days of "Earth-centric climate change spending", with US president-elect Donald Trump, set to have NASA’s climate change budget slashed, his senior adviser on issues related to the space agency has said.

Trump wants NASA's Earth science division to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century.

According to Bob Walker, who is on the board of directors of Space Adventures, chairman of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee of the US Department of Energy, and was appointed space policy adviser of Trump’s presidential campaign, NASA has been reduced to “a logistics agency concentrating on space station resupply and politically correct environmental monitoring”.

“We would start by having a stretch goal of exploring the entire solar system by the end of the century," Walker told the Telegraph in an interview on Tuesday.

"You stretch your technology experts and create technologies that wouldn’t otherwise be needed. I think aspirational goals are a good thing. Fifty years ago, it was the ability to go to the moon."

In a separate interview with the Guardian, Walker said, “We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research. Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission."

This would mean the elimination of NASA’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. NASA’s network of satellites provide a wealth of information on climate change, with the Earth science division’s budget set to grow to $2 billion next year.

By comparison, space exploration has been scaled back somewhat, with a proposed budget of $2.8 billion in 2017.

  Earth Science "Saves Lives"

On the day Trump won the presidential election, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, defended the US space agency’s Earth science work.

“NASA’s work on Earth science is making a difference in people’s lives all around the world every day. Earth science helps save lives,” he said.

Republican lawmakers have long complained that NASA has lost the plot, drifting from being at the cutting edge of space exploration to becoming the nation’s ‘weatherman’, according to Marketbusinessnews.com.

Trump has previously said that climate change is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, although on Tuesday he said there is “some connectivity” between human actions and the climate.

There is overwhelming and long-established evidence that burning fossil fuels and deforestation causes the release of heat-trapping gases, therefore causing the warming experienced in recent decades.

Walker, however, claimed that doubt over the role of human activity in climate change “is a view shared by half the climatologists in the world. We need good science to tell us what the reality is and science could do that if politicians didn’t interfere with it.”

Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said as NASA provides the scientific community with new instruments and techniques, the elimination of Earth sciences would be “a major setback if not devastating”.

“It could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ of almost the pre-satellite era,” he said. "It would be extremely shortsighted."

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