And If You Thought Things Were Bad with the EPA and Trump, Check Out NOAA

March 8, 2017 – The agency of the U.S. government that tracks hurricanes, storm surges, tornadoes and other extreme weather events is about to see Donald Trump wield his anti-climate change science axe, a 17% cut to budgets across the board.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), according to the Washington Post, is anticipating a significant funding cut particularly in the area of climate science research and satellite programs. The total cut, close to one billion dollars will impact what has become an essential data environmental data acquisition service of the federal government.

Marshall Shepherd, past president of the American Meteorological Society, describes the implications of the cuts for the average American. He states, “If you rely on TV weather forecasts, use a weather app, eat fish, enjoy boating or claim your status as an Earthling, these cuts potentially have implications for you.”

If satellite services are cut then future launches to replace aging weather observation spacecraft will be cut creating a gap in planet-wide environmental coverage. If this isn’t a potential security crisis for the United States and other nations, I don’t know what is. Imagine not getting up to date information about a hurricane as it crosses the Atlantic or Caribbean before slamming into Florida or Texas, or the eastern seaboard. Does this mean we are asking for a repeat of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, an event that led to 8,000 deaths because the city was unknowing about the danger immediately offshore? At the time meteorological services were fledgling in nature. The federal government had yet to establish a national program devoted to weather phenomena. Originally an outgrowth of the War Department, pre and post Civil War, meteorology was given its own place and funding, established as the Weather Bureau beginning in 1870. A century and two years later it became part of NOAA. But the Weather Bureau lacked a comprehensive and rigorous data collection method plus limited communications among sights, both national and international. This limitation led to the disaster that struck Galveston Bay on September 8, 1900.

 

The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was the greatest natural disaster to strike the United States in terms of lives lost. Better early warning systems could have saved the people, not the city.

 

Under Richard Nixon, a Republican president, NOAA was founded along with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). And now a Republican president is prepared to gut both agencies in a war against climate science, putting American and citizens of other countries’ lives and property at risk.

States Kevin Trenberth, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado, “the cuts proposed for Ocean and Atmospheric Research, which is the research arm of NOAA but also includes all of the ocean observations, is shortsighted and dangerous.” He goes on to state “cutting climate based [research] based on ideology related to opposition to any hint of climate change is extremely short-sighted.”

Does it make sense, therefore, to launch a people’s democracy initiative through a crowdfunding campaign to set up some of the scientists from NOAA who will find themselves without contracts after Trump’s budget gets approved? I ask readers to comment and let me know if this is an initiative worth launching on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, similar to the one I described in my previous blog for the EPA.

 

Seen here, Hurricane Carlos, tracked in real time by NOAA weather satellites. The different colours indicate intensity of wind and rain.

 


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...

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