In the past week, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee introduced a bill that would essentially gut NASA’s Earth exploration program through a $300 million cut in funding.
The program includes tremendous research. In addition to studying the effects of climate change, its findings also help our troops and benefit agriculture by determining water availability. They also help us track abnormal weather patterns like floods, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires.
The budget cuts for the Earth Science program are counterproductive. NASA’s Earth Science program is vital for studying how our planet changes over time.
Unfortunately, the House committee and other parts of Congress seem singularly focused on the purported invalidity of climate change.
Many analysts argue that Congress is trying to prevent important research on how the planet’s climate is changing. For instance, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, argued in a Senate testimony in March that earth science isn’t even a hard science.
Other members of Congress claim that NASA is responsible for space exploration and nothing more, including climate change.
In fact, Cruz went so far as to say that the agency had lost sight of plans for its future.
In an interview with Mashable, NASA’s chief Charles Bolden vehemently responded, “When you produce things and you fly tests and you demonstrate that on a timescale that you presented to people, they can say all they want about it not being a plan.”
Of course, NASA hasn’t lost sight of its future. The agency is working toward getting astronauts to Mars by the 2030s while also using cutting-edge technology to actively learn more about our changing Earth.
One beneficial aspect of the committee’s proposal is a funding increase for the Orion Project and other important projects relating to planetary studies.
The bill not only has opponents within NASA but also in the agencies that NASA helps. Although the House committee cited the Planetary Society as an organization that supported the bill, the representatives of Planetary Society said they could not support the bill as it is written.
This bill pushes important research back, affecting the entire scientific community. Space exploration doesn’t just include studying other planets but also studying our own planet and how it changes over time. These data help our military, our economy and our health. Instead of letting scientists make the important case for these studies and programs, we’re letting senators use snowballs to disprove climate change.