The Trump administration aims to largely restrict NASA’s focus to its space missions and have it abandon climate change research, which is a part of its Earth Sciences Division. The division, which accounts for just $2 billion of NASA’s $20 billion budget, also includes gathering weather information, which the Republicans don’t want to drop.
At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing last Thursday, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he wants a “rebalancing” of NASA’s mission to allow other agencies to take over its climate change research. But it’s unclear which agencies could pick up the slack.
The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, climate-change skeptic Scott Pruitt, has vowed to cut the EPA’s budget and staff in the wake of Trump’s campaign promise to “get rid” of the agency, The New York Times noted. The EPA has also been under orders from the Trump administration to refrain from tweeting anything about climate change.
Meanwhile, NASA posts daily climate change updates on @NASAclimate and Facebook, with frequent warnings about rapid global changes.
Despite NASA’s own calls for more knowledge and action on climate change, Smith wants “more funds to go into space exploration,” he told E&E News. “I’d like for us to remember what our priorities are, and there are another dozen agencies that study earth science and climate change. We only have one agency that engages in space exploration, and they need every dollar they can muster for space exploration.”
The move is viewed as yet another way to starve funds from research on climate change, which President Donald Trump, during his campaign, called a “Chinese hoax” invented to hurt U.S. manufacturing.
Fearful of a crackdown on NASA and other agencies, scientists and techies have been busily downloading all available research information from federal databases through groups like DataRefuge and The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, Wired reported. The gag order against EPA and other federal agencies has also given birth to a large family of “underground” alternative Twitter sites, many with information about climate change.
Author: Mary Papenfuss