On Wednesday, The Guardian published an interview with Bob Walker, a senior science adviser for Donald Trump’s upcoming administration. Walker said NASA under Trump would focus on space exploration rather than climate change research.
The news comes as no surprise since the President-elect had already stated in the past he did not believe in the global warming phenomena, going as far as to call it a “hoax.”
The science community saw with increasing worries the possibility of a Trump administration before the elections. Now that it is an impending reality, scientists and experts have met the business mogul to convince him of the tangible reality that climate change poses.
Trump’s plans for the U.S. space program join a long list of to-dos for the 45th President of the United States. Besides building the wall and doubling down on immigration reform, Trump has said he would ensure America’s security in all fronts and that he would create millions of jobs along with the fossil-fuel industry.
Why does Trump want to cut NASA’s climate research funding?
In spite of his narrow views on climate change itself, Trump’s plans for NASA are nothing short of interesting. The President-elect poses a simple prospect for NASA: deep space exploration before and above all else.
During his interview with The Guardian, the Republican Bob Walker said the new administration of the nation would favor research over “politically correct environmental monitoring” and other activities.
“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 said.
He went on to say the changes would not be immediate, most likely going into effect in the coming years as the 2017 budget for NASA has already been approved.
The space program implemented by the administration shortly will be based on “reliable” and “real science” instead of “politicized science” according to Walker. Walker is on the shortlist to head NASA under Trump.
What would this mean for climate change research?
Cutting off funding from NASA’s climate change research program would set back U.S. and world data on global warming significantly.
The agency’s GOES (Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite system) satellites and DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) mission are some of the world’s most advanced and significant resources for climate research.
$2 billion out of the $19 approved for NASA’s 2017 budget will go to Earth Sciences, i.e. climate change research and monitoring.
Walker and Trump would prefer to reallocate these resources for other agencies better suited for the job, like the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the NSF (National Science Foundation).
The problem is that these agencies rely on NASA equipment and initiatives for their climate change research programs. There is also the funding issue itself, with NASA’s budget tripling that of the NOAA in 2017.
What does NASA think of the new potential space program?
The science community sighed with relief earlier this week as Trump seemed to reconsider his stance on global warming. The President-elect said there was “some connectivity” between climate change and human activities.
NASA has yet to undergo a review by Trump’s transition team formally, but the agency is ready and willing to cooperate with anyone who has science among its top interests.
“The NASA community is committed to doing whatever we can to assist in making the executive branch transition a smooth one,” the agency told The Guardian.
The spokesperson further said NASA would remain focused on the future, relying on the government office’s platforms in space to continue their space endeavors.
Source: The Guardian