The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
6 Ways NOAA Budget Cuts Will Impact Weather Reporting
By Scott Weaver
At a time when storms are getting more destructive, floods more devastating and people and property more vulnerable, accurate weather forecasting is more critical than ever.
Which is why the Trump administration's brazen proposal to slash funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) most important forecasting and storm prediction programs has set off alarms in recent days. In all, the president wants to slash the agency's budget by 16 percent.
Having spent more than six years as a NOAA scientist, I know there are ways to become more efficient and make government work better. Many dedicated professionals within the agency would be eager to partner with the administration to develop that kind of action plan.
Except, efficiency is not what this proposal is about. Rather, it blatantly disregards science and how it protects lives and property.
Here are a few of the NOAA budget lowlights, and why they could matter to you:
1. Delays Hurricane Forecast Improvements
Several NOAA programs are developing advanced modeling to make weather and storm forecasts more accurate and reliable. But the same week NOAA called for an above-average season of hurricane activity, the Trump administration requested a $5 million funding cut for these important programs.
It would slow the transition of such advanced forecasting models into real-life warning systems—directly affecting families and business owners who must prepare for severe storms. It would also make the accuracy of American weather forecasts fall farther behind its European and Japanese peers.
2. Eliminates Critical Tornado Warning Program
Vortex-Southeast—a $5 million program used to detect, respond to and warn against tornadoes in Southeastern U.S.—would be terminated. The program studies the intensity and path of twisters in a region with more tornado deaths than any other and how to best communicate forecasts to the public.
3. Terminates Arctic Research Protecting Fishermen
The president wants to cut a total of $6 million from two NOAA programs that support improvements to sea ice modeling and predictions, along with a program that models vulnerabilities among ecosystems and fisheries.
These programs, among other things, help predict where potentially hazardous floating sea ice may be present, supporting the safety and business of fishermen, commercial shippers, cruise ships and local communities in Alaska.
4. Closes Lab Tracking Mercury Pollution, Fallout
NOAA's Air Resources Laboratory researches how mercury and other harmful materials travel through the atmosphere and fall to Earth. The lab's models also help emergency agencies and the aviation industry minimize and respond to pollution disasters such as radioactive fallout or anthrax attacks.
And yet, the administration has requested a $4.7 million decrease to close the entire lab.
5. Slows Flood Forecasting Improvements
A $3.1 million cut would slow upgrades to the National Water Model, an initiative hailed as a "game changer" for flood prediction when it launched in 2016. The model offers hourly forecasts for the nation's entire river network—information that helps emergency agencies, farmers, barge operators and others respond faster and more efficiently to floods.
6. Scales Back Forecasts of El Niño
A $26 million cut targets programs that monitor the tropical Pacific Ocean and help forecasters predict El Niño and other global environmental weather patterns. Such cuts would make it much harder to anticipate short-term climate events such as drought, excessive flooding and other extreme weather.
These are just a few of the highlights of the administration's proposed budget for NOAA, but should give you an idea of just how severe they are. These program cuts are not in America's best interest.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
‘Companies Should Not Be Allowed to Use Hazardous Ingredients in Products People Use’: Michelle Pfeiffer Speaks Up for Safer Cosmetics
The beauty products we put on our skin can have important consequences for our health. Just this March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that some Claire's cosmetics had tested positive for asbestos. But the FDA could only issue a warning, not a recall, because current law does not empower the agency to do so.
Michelle Pfeiffer wants to change that.
The actress and Environmental Working Group (EWG) board member was spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday lobbying lawmakers on behalf of a bill that would increase oversight of the cosmetics industry, The Washington Post reported.
By Julia Conley
Scientists at the United Nations' intergovernmental body focusing on biodiversity sounded alarms earlier this month with its report on the looming potential extinction of one million species — but few heard their calls, according to a German newspaper report.
The climate crisis is a major concern for American voters with nearly 40 percent reporting the issue will help determine how they cast their ballots in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, according to a report compiled by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Of more than 1,000 registered voters surveyed on global warming, climate and energy policies, as well as personal and collective action, 38 percent said that a candidate's position on climate change is "very important" when it comes to determining who will win their vote. Overall, democratic candidates are under more pressure to provide green solutions as part of their campaign promises with 64 percent of Democrat voters saying they prioritize the issue compared with just 34 percent of Independents and 12 percent of Republicans.
President Donald Trump has agreed to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill that will help Americans still recovering from the flooding, hurricanes and wildfires that have devastated parts of the country in the past two years. Senate Republicans said they struck a deal with the president to approve the measure, despite the fact that it did not include the funding he wanted for the U.S.-Mexican border, CNN reported.
"The U.S. Senate has just approved a 19 Billion Dollar Disaster Relief Bill, with my total approval. Great!" the president tweeted Thursday.
"There was a lot of devastation throughout the state," Governor Mike Parson said at a Thursday morning press conference, as NPR reported. "We were very fortunate last night that we didn't have more injuries than what we had, and we didn't have more fatalities across the state. But three is too many."