As Donald Trump got elected as the new president of the United States, concerns have emerged inside NASA –and among its fans – about the future of the agency’s earth science program. The concern continues to increase as Trumps surrounds himself with advisors who are somewhat skeptical about global warming.

One of the more noticeable statements made by Trump during his campaign regarding sciences comes from his space policy adviser Robert Walker, and it focuses on a reduction of funding for the environmental science research at NASA with the apparent objective of depoliticizing the sciences.

The new NASA global data set combines historical measurements with data from climate simulations using the best available computer models to provide forecasts of how global temperature (shown here) and precipitation might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Image Credit: NASA

“Mr. Trump’s decisions will be based on solid science, not politicized science,” Walker said.

The future of NASA  

NASA’s achievements and space missions along the years have fascinated the American Public. People trust NASA, and according to national polls, it is the second-most trusted governmental institution after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, NASA’s work on our planet might be compromised under the upcoming Trump’s administration. Trump has energetically shown that he does not believe in climate change. Therefore NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program, which has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change, could be even shut down.

Just a few hour after Trump’s acceptance speech on Nov. 9, an internal email from a senior official in the Earth Sciences division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center circulated within NASA where it was highlighted that NASA might be exposed to severe funding reductions. And the alarms have not been reduced at all.

Science should not be politicized  

All over the years, the budget destined to NASA’s Earth Science Division saw several fluctuations. There was a substantial investment during Reagan’s mandate. George H.W. Bush founded a program called “mission to planet earth”. On the contrary, George W. Bush reversed course reducing funds for the program. He was even accused of trying to eliminate NASA research on global warming.

The funds were restored by Obama. During Obama’s administrations, the increasing investments in climate science were criticized by several republicans such as Ted Cruz or Lamar Smith, who said that NASA should focus on outer space, not on the Earth, let alone climate change research.

As Smith put it in 2015, “There are 13 other agencies involved in climate-change research, but only one that is responsible for space exploration.”

According to Walker, Trump’s choice to lead the transition at NASA, the agency’s research should not be politicized. He referred to NASA’s earth science program as politically correct environmental monitoring and said that the agency should focus on deep space achievements, moving its earth science missions to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The climate change-skeptical republican also said that NASA funding should be based on merit and not politics. However, why should Walker think that there is a lack of merit in NASA’s earth sciences division?

On the matter, the director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Piers J. Seller – A former astronaut and a climate scientist – said that he would not talk about the politics surrounding NASA during this transition of administration. However, he did say that NASA has a unique and important position regarding global environmental risks, therefore this division of the agency does require the funds to work.

Source: Herald Net