The U.S. Senate has passed a bill cutting global warming research funding for NASA, and the House is expected to pass the bill soon. The move is justified as a refocusing of NASA on space exploration rather than science research.
“By rebalancing, I'd like for more funds to go into space exploration; we're not going to zero out earth sciences,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas and chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, notes The Daily Caller. “I'd like for us to remember what our priorities are, and there are another dozen agencies that study earth science and climate change, and they can continue to do that. ... We only have one agency that engages in space exploration, and they need every dollar they can muster for space exploration.”
But while proponents of the move center the argument on space exploration, many see it as a Republican attack on climate science.
According to Wired, a group of computer programmers across the country is working to externally store NASA's climate science data in fear that President Donald Trump's administration may delete it.
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"I think it's entirely possible, with unitary power from a party that doesn't think climate change is real, or if it is real, we can't do anything about it," Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia told E&E News of the GOP's assault on NASA.
"NASA's earth science program is critically important, and I would remind people that the technologies that come out of the investments in the earth science program spawn new industries," added Ellen Stofan, former chief scientist of NASA. "The earth science program is an investment in this country, and it returns benefits to all of us every day."