I recently learned about a bill introduced by Lamar Smith (R-Texas) that would cut $300 million out of NASA’s earth science programs. Many people have had strong reactions to this, and see it as a move by climate deniers to silence the science of global warming. They may be right about the motives of the people introducing the bill, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I also don’t think it’s worth getting too upset about it.
The actual text of the bill can be found here.
When I look at the $300 million cut in context of the fact that it still leaves $1.45 billion for Earth science research, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.
I feel that it is a good thing to have multiple agencies doing climate research, and building their own unique climate models, But would it be such a bad thing to centralize that effort a bit into one agency (e.g. NOAA)? This approach seems to work pretty well for the EU. Many people talk about how resources are wasted in the US because so many weather/climate models are being maintained. I don’t have any personal experience with this, but it makes sense to have a coordinated and streamlined model development effort.
The other reason that I’m not upset about this is because Republicans are always arguing for less government spending, and so just because they make cuts to an earth science program doesn’t necessarily mean that they are trying to silence the voice of reason in the global warming debate. I’m a registered democrat, but on some levels I respect the conservative ideal of smaller government. This might be why the House of Representatives recently approved a bill that also cuts the budgets of the DOE and NSF. Republicans openly admit that they are not scientists, but they also openly admit they want to cut back the government (except for defense). So maybe this whole thing is part of a larger move to make cuts across the board?
It might be a fair assumption that this bill is aimed at suffocating progress in climate science, but just remember: Climate deniers are people too. Eventually, we all need to realize that demonizing the other side is not helping our cause.