Mar 5, 2017 by

Defunding NOAA’s satellites will also hurt weather forecasts, jeopardizing public safety, experts warn.

Credit: Tom Toles, reprinted with permission

Donald Trump’s “see no evil” approach to climate change became dangerously real this week.

A four-page White House budget memo secured by The Washington Post reveals the Trump administration wants a 17 percent cut in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s overall budget — with the deepest cuts coming from earth observation. NOAA studies the atmosphere and oceans — often using satellites — to better understand climate and weather.

Under the draft Trump plan, NOAA’s satellite program would be cut by more than a half billion dollars. These cuts would be “devastating” both to NOAA and the United States, extreme-weather expert Dr. Kevin Trenberth told ThinkProgress.

“All of the major fronts in advancing weather forecasting and El Nino forecasts come from climate research involving interactions between the atmosphere and the ocean, and land surface and moisture flows. Satellite data are a vital part of this enterprise as well,” he said.

These cuts would be particularly dangerous given that the Trump team has suggested eliminating NASA’s Earth observation program and shifting its work over to NOAA. According to Bob Walker, a Trump senior campaign adviser, NASA should focus on exploration and studying deep space, not “politically correct environmental monitoring.”

Apparently, the only kind of satellites team Trump likes are those that point away from Earth and thus can’t see and report on our changing climate. Who cares if those satellites are also critical for agricultural forecasting, disaster planning, weather prediction, and predicting the path of extreme events like hurricanes, tsunamis, and tornadoes?

“Cutting NOAA’s satellite budget will compromise NOAA’s mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans,” former NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco told the Post. NOAA’s former chief scientist Rick Spinrad said such cuts “would virtually guarantee jeopardizing the safety of the American public.”

“The truth is now laid bare,” said Dr. Michael Mann. “Trump and his cronies are serving as agents for fossil fuel interests like ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers in dismantling scientific programs that deal with the
inconvenient science of human-caused climate change.”

“It’s an all-out assault on Earth,” the renowned climate scientist, who recently co-authored The Madhouse Effect with Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist Tom Toles, told ThinkProgress. It’s time for scientists “to stand up and be counted,” he said.


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