Trump Plans To Eliminate All NASA Climate Change Research
Tuesday, headlines of “Trump Changes Tone On Climate Change” were plastered across news sites and news stands. During his meeting with the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump appeared to acknowledge man-made climate change and stated he is “open-minded” in regards to leaving the Paris Climate Agreement.
After repeatedly calling global warming a hoax and saying he will pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement throughout his Presidential campaign, this meeting gave us a stark change in rhetoric. The media, and people who enjoy living on our planet, clung onto the statements as a sign of hope. Well…actions speak louder than words.
Bob Walker, who is leading the Trump transition team for NASA, told The Guardian that Trump will eliminate all funding to NASA’s earth science programs to focus on space exploration: “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.” Walker has also called Climate Change research “politically correct environmental monitoring.”
Walker went on to incorrectly state that doubt over man-made 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.” According to NASA, there is a 97% scientific consensus among published climate scientists that rapid global warming trends are extremely likely due to human activities.
NASA’s earth science budget was estimated to rise to $2 billion next year. The scientific community around the world heavily utilizes NASA’s climate research in order to discover new ways to combat climate change.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, spoke on this development:
“Without the support of NASA, not only the US 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. It would be a blatantly political move, and would indicate the president-elect’s willingness to pander to the very same lobbyists and corporate interest groups he derided throughout the campaign.”
Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said the elimination of NASA’s 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 short sighted.
“We live on planet Earth and there is much to discover, and it is essential to track and monitor many things from space. Information on planet Earth and its atmosphere and oceans is essential for our way of life. Space research is a luxury, Earth observations are essential.”
Republicans (fueled by fossil fuel lobbyists’ $) have been trying to gut funding to climate change research and NASA’s Earth science programs for years. With a Republican controlled House and Senate, they may finally get their short-sighted wish, at the expense of our planet’s future.
So, What Is Trump’s Approach To Climate?
In order to accurately analyze what Trump’s climate policy might look like, it’s best to look less to his words and more towards his proposals and actions. The energy policy he campaigned on outlines a plan to reduce environmental regulations, increase drilling for shale oil, encourage the use of natural gas, and renew investments in coal mining.
Lux Research, an independent research firm, conducted a study before the election that analyzed the affect Trump’s energy policies might have on CO2 emissions.
This is not welcome news, seeing how Earth recently surpassed the dreaded carbon tipping point of 400 ppm.
Another telling sign of how Trump might approach climate change are his appointments. He picked climate change denier and non-scientist, Myron Ebell to head his EPA transition team. In an interview with Business Insider, Ebell repeatedly referred to climate scientists as “global warming alarmists” and suggested that climate research is an arm of a coordinated political movement. He’s also lobbied for the oil industry and helped the Bush administration downplay the severity of global warming.
With the prospect of an anti-science administration entering the White House, a Republican controlled House, Senate, and soon-to-be Supreme Court, one can only ask, “Is there anything that we as citizens can do about this?” The answer is, yes.
Yesterday, eight children sued the state of Washington. They asked a state judge to find the state in contempt for failing to adequately protect them and future generations from the harmful effects of climate change. A similar case was ordered to move forward in Oregon earlier this year. These cases led by kids ranging from 12–16, are part of a national effort led by the Oregon nonprofit “Our Children’s Trust.” The goal is to force states and the federal government to take action on climate change. The activists argue the government’s inaction on combating climate change violate their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.
These lawsuits were made possible by a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that decreed state governments could sue the federal Environmental Protection Agency to force it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change. As long as the incoming Supreme Court doesn’t overrule this, we can expect these lawsuits to keep popping up.
Climate change is the most significant existential threat facing humanity. It’s not too much to ask that our government take it seriously.