The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
For years, Republican lawmakers have tried to scrap NASA's climate change research in favor of space exploration, but with President Trump and his cabinet of climate skeptics now in control, the space agency's earth sciences budget could finally be on the chopping block.
"By rebalancing, I'd like for more funds to go into space exploration; we're not going to zero out earth sciences," he said. "Our weather satellites have been an immense help, for example, and that's from NASA, but I'd like for us to remember what our priorities are, and there are another dozen agencies that study earth science and climate change, and they can continue to do that. Meanwhile, we only have one agency that engages in space exploration, and they need every dollar they can muster for space exploration."
That means NASA's work on climate change could go to another agency, with or without funding, or possibly get cut, E&E News explained. Smith and other Republicans acknowledged that significant changes to NASA's earth sciences program could be introduced in the near future.
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), who is running for NASA administrator, told E&E News that he was not committed to keeping climate research at NASA but may be open to transferring the program to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
But ProPublica senior reporter Andrew Revkin in an interview with NPR said that NOAA might not be as well equipped to study climate change.
"If they say—well, we're just going to shift [climate science] over to, let's say, NOAA, the oceanic and atmospheric administration, that doesn't really work well because NOAA doesn't necessarily have the skill sets to do some of the work that would be easier done at NASA," he added.
Additionally, he highlighted how one of biggest proponents of scrapping NASA's climate science program is actually a lobbyist for rocket companies.
"There was someone who was part of the Trump campaign who was pushing for, you know, moving all this climate science out of NASA—that doesn't need to happen there—and making sure NASA's focused on its missions to other planets and back to the moon or that kind of thing," Revkin said. "And of course, he is a lobbyist for companies that build rockets and stuff then."
Former Republican Rep. Bob Walker, who is a senior Trump advisor has been actively involved in deliberating the administration's space policy. Walker told the Guardian in November that NASA's earth science program amounts to "politically correct environmental monitoring."
"We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research," he added. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission."
There are many reasons why de-funding NASA's climate change science would be a major mistake. As James Dyke at The Conversation pointed out, NASA organizations such as the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Jet Propulsion Laboratory have made significant contributions to our understanding of how humans are changing the Earth's climate.
NASA also has more than a dozen satellites that
orbit the Earth and remotely sense ocean, land and atmospheric conditions. Its research encompasses solar activity, sea level rise, the temperature of the atmosphere and the oceans, the ozone layer, air pollution, and changes in sea and land ice.
Despite the Republicans and the Trump administration's seemingly hostile feelings about the established science of climate change, NASA has been frequently posting tweets about the topic on its Twitter page.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."