The presidential budget proposal for the 2018 fiscal year has been revealed.
The budgets for many non-defense related programs have been cut, and the scientific community’s Research and Development (R&D) programs have especially felt the impact.
Although NASA’s space exploration programs were not majorly affected by the proposal, their Earth Science and Education programs did not fare so well.
Overall, the proposal calls for over $560 million in cuts to the organization, $121 million of which are to be from the Earth Science department. The Education program is suggested to be terminated completely.
What does this mean?
Well, the President has expressed his support of space exploration and the agency’s ability to succeed in the name of the nation in the past.
At a signing ceremony of the NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 in early March he said, “Now this nation is ready to be the first in space once again.”
Currently, NASA has been not only focused on discoveries beyond earth, but also on learning more about how our own planet functions.
The NASA Earth Science mission statement proclaims, “The purpose of NASA’s Earth science program is to develop a scientific understanding of Earth’s system and its response to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards.”
The proposed budget aims to have NASA focus solely on exploring space and developing new technologies to better understand the world beyond our planet — not further exploring our own planet.
The decrease in budget for Earth Sciences programs paired with the $2.5 billion decrease in budget for the Environmental Protection Agency can prove detrimental to climate research and the goal of improvement.
It is no secret that the current administration is wary of climate change data and has dismissed the science community’s concerns on the matter.
As of right now, it is uncertain if the President will sign the Paris Accords on climate change, which is meant to strengthen responses against climate change worldwide.
If the U.S. does not sign, it would make us one of three UN members not to sign, as well as the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions not included in the agreement, according to the EPA.
The American Chemistry Society and The American Association for the Advancement of Science, two major members of the science community, have spoken out against the budget proposal.
They have both released statements on their websites discussing several consequences that could arise if the budget were to be instated, such as the decrease in job creation, a hindrance of economic growth and a downturn of technological innovation.
Whether the White House believes in climate change or not, the fact that Earth’s atmosphere is changing and worsening remains.
The administration needs to put more effort into making sure the U.S. is part of the solution, not part of the problem, and you can push them to do so.
Visit the websites of these programs, www.science.nasa.gov/earth-science and www.epa.gov, and invite others to do the same. Get informed on what is potentially being cut and what other programs may be facing the same fate.
Ultimately it is up to Congress to approve this budget. Before they make a decision, make sure they know how important these programs are to the public.
Call your congressmen and women, write them letters, leave them messages. As cliche as it sounds, actions like these actually make a difference, even if it’s just a tweet.