One of the men in charge of Trump’s NASA transition team, Bob Walker, has confirmed what Trump has been hinting at for some time – that the agency’s budget for Earth Science is to be heavily defunded in favor of space exploration. This brief covers research into hazard monitoring and climate change, the latter of which Walker once referred to as “politically correct environmental monitoring.”
Any “Earth-centric science” will be covered by “other agencies,” he said, as reported by the Guardian. Casting doubt on the entire field itself, he also went on to say that the link between humanity and climate change “is a view shared by half the climatologists in the world.”
There’s quite a lot of gibberish to unpack here. Firstly, there is an overwhelming consensus when it comes to the link between human activity and climate change. The figure most frequently cited is that 97 percent of scientists agree on the link, but a new meta-analysis puts that figure at 99.9 percent.
Walker claims the science has become “politicized”, and funnily enough, he is right – anyone who denies such a consensus is swapping objectivity for post-factual political spin.
Secondly, organizations like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) currently do a lot of climate change research. Although moving NASA’s similar programs to NOAA is obviously possible, it’s pointless, since NASA are embedded in decades' worth of research themselves, and they already work extremely closely with NOAA using their own equipment, methods, and researchers.
This is not a true merger being described by Walker. It’s a defunding move. After all, he never mentioned anything about NOAA getting more funding to make up for what could be about a $2 billion shortfall.
Sure doesn't look like half of all scientists to me, Bob. DeSmogBlog
Removing NASA's ability to assess natural hazards and climate change progression on the one planet we all currently live on is an incredibly dangerous thing to do. Kevin Trenberth, the senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, summed this situation up to the Guardian with brutal efficiency.
“Space research is a luxury,” he said. “Earth observations are essential.”