Memo to GOP: Slashing NASA won’t change the facts

The Guardian reports on an upcoming “crackdown”:

Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said.

Nasa’s Earth science division is set 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.

This is based on an interview with Bob Walker, a senior Trump campaign adviser. Republicans have been threatening to clip NASA’s Earth Sciences Division for a while, and in January they will have the power to do it.

It takes a second of thought to realize that this is idiotically stupid. Earth is very obviously the most important planet to humanity, and NASA very obviously plays a critical role in understanding it. Republicans’ logic, apparently, is that if we don’t understand climate change, we don’t have to feel bad about wrecking our only planet.

If you need it spelled out for you, maybe this recent letter from former leaders of the US Army, Navy, and Air Force to Congress can help:

As former military and national security leaders, we urge you to protect funding for NASA Earth science and NSF Geoscience programs.  These programs are essential parts of a broader whole of government and whole of society effort to provide essential data about and better scientific understanding of global, regional and local Earth processes.  That essential data and better understanding of the underlying science are critical to many strategic planning, strategy, and investment decisions in both the private and public sectors, very much including national security.

From better understanding weather, wind patterns and intensity, changing global land cover, snow, ice and glacier melting, and seismic activity, to capturing new insights about ocean – atmosphere dynamics and changing ocean circulation, these NASA and NSF programs represent one of the pillars of our nation’s environmental information supply chain.  This critical but fragile chain begins with science and data and evolves into decision support products and tools that inform and protect our citizens, property, businesses, and interest s around the world. NASA and NSF Earth science directly link to food, water, energy, and economic security, all of which are inherently tied to our national security.

Or as Charles Bolden once told Ted Cruz:

It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment. Because this is the only place we have to live. Having had an opportunity [as a former astronaut] to view it from a place where, I look around, I’m not sure anyone else here has had that opportunity, we’ve got to take care of it.

And the only way we can take care of it is if we know what’s happening. And the only way we know what’s happening is to use instruments we develop in NASA.

And we do it better than anybody else. I’m proud to say that. I always come and brag on my workforce. We do it better than anybody else in the world. And that allows us to get data to you and members of the Congress and the administration who make decisions.

Brad Plumer has much more detail on why NASA’s Earth science programs are critically important and on how Republicans have long been itching to slash them.

Don’t hit the panic button yet. There’s another month and a half until the Republicans take over Washington, and we’ve seen very little in formal appointments and proposals.

Maybe, maybe, maybe Republicans will realize that blinding NASA while setting Earth on fire is a bad idea.


God help us.

(Featured image: Artwork from NASA depicting NASA Earth Science Division Operating Missions.)