Saturday :: Jun 10, 2006

Climate Science on the Cutting Board


by Mary

The Bush administration really doesn't want you to hear or know about the Inconvenient Truth. They've decided that the NASA programs to study global climate change are not very important. The satellites that are needed to replace and enhance the aging satellites which are gathering the data we need to understand what is going on with our world climate.

The space agency has shelved a $200 million satellite mission headed by a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor that was designed to measure soil moisture -- a key factor in helping scientists understand the impact of global warming and predict droughts and floods. The Deep Space Climate Observatory, intended to observe climate factors such as solar radiation, ozone, clouds, and water vapor more comprehensively than existing satellites, also has been canceled.

And in its 2007 budget, NASA proposes significant delays in a global precipitation measuring mission to help with weather predictions, as well as the launch of a satellite designed to increase the timeliness and accuracy of severe weather forecasts and improve climate models.

The changes come as NASA prioritizes its budget to pay for completion of the International Space Station and the return of astronauts to the moon by 2020 -- a goal set by President Bush that promises a more distant and arguably less practical scientific payoff. Ultimately, scientists say, the delays and cancellations could make hurricane predictions less accurate, create gaps in long-term monitoring of weather, and result in less clarity about the earth's hydrological systems, which play an integral part in climate change.

The Republican priorities are to eliminate the estate tax and to send people to the moon while letting the necessary science fall by the wayside. We need to make sure our congress members know that Bush's budget priorities are wrong and we need to invest in the science that will help us prepare for and mitigate global warming.

(h/t to Christopher)

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