An adviser to Donald Trump says NASA should no longer conduct climate research, a proposal that has been swiftly condemned by leaders in the Earth science and climate communities.
Bob Walker, who advised the Trump campaign on space policy, told the Guardian that NASA should focus on space and leave the investigation of Earth to other parts of the government.
“We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker said. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.”
Climate research has been “heavily politicized” and NASA doesn’t need to conduct “politically correct environmental reporting,” Walker told the Guardian.
Walker is not alone in his point of view.
In 2015, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), introduced a spending bill that would have slashed NASA’s Earth science program by more than $300 million.
At a hearing on NASA’s budget that same year, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said “a disproportionate amount of federal funds” had been allocated to the Earth science program.
But just as NASA’s Earth science program has its critics, it also has allies on both sides of the political spectrum.
Last fall, after efforts to cut NASA’s Earth science budget had failed, 15 former military leaders wrote a letter to congressional leaders, urging them to protect funding for NASA Earth science as well as geoscience programs at the National Science Foundation.