Target: President-elect Donald Trump
Goal: Halt the proposed gutting of NASA’s Earth Science research budget.
In a recent op-ed piece, two Trump policy advisors – former Congressman Robert Walker and economist Peter Navarro – indicated that Trump had plans to cut NASA’s $2 billion annual budget for the study of Earth science. The advisors wrote that NASA has been too focused on “politically correct environmental monitoring,” and that the Trump administration would prioritize “deep-space activities rather than Earth-centric work.” No doubt a pivotal part of the plan to make deep space great again.
Walker and Navarro proposed that other agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be better suited to handle the Earth science work currently done by NASA. However, Republican lawmakers in the past several years have proposed budget cuts to climate chance research and Earth science programs at both of the above agencies, as well as NASA. Moreover, NOAA and NSF both have budgets a fraction the size of NASA’s. NOAA contracts with NASA to use Earth-observing satellites, and relies on the help of the space agency to build and launch satellites of its own. The NSF has virtually no involvement in satellite operations, which are essential to demonstrating the realities of climate change – rising surface temperatures, retreating glaciers, and shifting weather patterns, for instance.
Climate scientist Michael Mann has commented that “without the support of NASA, not only the United States 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.” Trump himself has said little about his plans for NASA, beyond his campaign promises to explore the entire solar system by the end of this century. Tell President-elect Trump that our own planet should be a priority. He must not cut NASA’s Earth science funding.
Dear Mr. Trump,
I am writing to you with grave concerns about your plans for NASA. Advisors have indicated your administration’s intent to cut NASA’s Earth science budget, in the interest of prioritizing space exploration. I believe this would be a mistake.
The U.S. fleet of Earth-observing satellites is by far the most advanced and robust in the world – and if you do indeed plan to gut NASA’s Earth science budget, this won’t remain true for long. Other nations are still serious about climate research, and will continue developing satellite technology until they far outshine us. If you truly wish to make this country great, you should not begin by crippling one of our most impressive scientific organizations.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, you repeatedly mentioned keeping an “open mind” about climate change and the Paris Agreement. You also said: “there is some connectivity” between human activity and climate change, adding that, “I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know.” I’m sure I don’t have to point out that defunding major climate research is a surefire way to make sure nobody every really knows. Mr. Trump, I urge you to keep NASA’s Earth science research alive, and to sober up on issues of climate change.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: NASA