|Cutbacks Impede Climate Studies|
The government's ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments, a panel of experts has concluded.
The two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences, released yesterday, determined that NASA's earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, has experienced enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission.
Having solid data about what's happening to the atmosphere and biosphere is critical to responsible management of our environment. But funding for Earth-observation satellites is not the kind of high-profile issue that you'll hear much about on the campaign trail or in the media (as opposed, for example, to the Moon and Mars missions). It's one of those technical details for which we rely on the division of labor in a representative democracy. So anyone in the new congress who is not a scumbag will push for full funding of NASA's Earth satellite program.