The White House Just Shut Down NASA's Best Tool for Fighting Climate Change

Monday, 14 May 2018 - 7:32PM
Earth
NASA
Monday, 14 May 2018 - 7:32PM
The White House Just Shut Down NASA's Best Tool for Fighting Climate Change
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NASA-Goddard Space Flight Center
While mostly known for their work in space, NASA does a lot of important work in Earth sciences as well, with their Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) being one of the most advanced tools for checking the level of greenhouse gas emissions being released.

As of now, the program is ending on the orders of the White House, with the Trump administration shutting down the CMS after eight years of operation. The program costs $10 million per year, but this could now make it much more difficult to measure carbon emissions around the world, which has been a major challenge for many nations ever since they began trying to reduce their impact back in the 1990s. 

The CMS was a broad program at the space agency, relying on data from NASA satellites to create advanced models and analyses of how greenhouse gas emissions are affecting the planet. And that was only one part of the system, with the other being a large focus on making sure the data is clear and easy to understand before being distributed to international groups to help create new policies, in the hopes that we can still temper the damage being done.



Carbon levels are steadily increasing, with recent measurements showing carbon levels in Earth's atmosphere reached a sweltering and record-breaking 410 ppm (parts per million) last month. As its impact on natural disasters, wildlife, and eventually us continues, it will be important to have some means of measuring it - which will likely have to come from other countries if NASA's Earth science work continues to be dismantled. 

NASA's research into climate change has been in jeopardy pretty much since the 2016 election, and especially when the climate science-denying Jim Bridenstine was appointed as NASA administrator. The CMS' findings have frequently been used in international research, and it's pretty clearly not a coincidence that the system ended after Trump pulled the United States out from the Paris climate agreement. 

After all, if the country is no longer going by international guidelines to help curb climate change, then it would follow that the White House no longer wants a program crucial for measuring that impact. At the very least, some members of Congress like Florida senator Bill Nelson are attempting to put CMS funding back on next year's budget. 

It remains to be seen whether the CMS will come back, but if it does, there will certainly be higher numbers and new damage it has to deal with by that time.


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