Keep in mind that we won’t send men to Mars. The concept is far outside our technological ability, it adds precisely zero mission capabilities that robots can’t or won’t soon be able to do and the next president will almost certainly cut off the project. This Mars mission exists to keep NASA scientists away from politically incorrect studies about global warming, climate and the evolution of the universe.
The government’s ability to understand and predict hurricanes, drought and climate changes of all kinds is in danger because of deep cuts facing many Earth satellite programs and major delays in launching some of its most important new instruments, a panel of experts has concluded.
The two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences, released yesterday, determined that NASA’s earth science budget has declined 30 percent since 2000. It stands to fall further as funding shifts to plans for a manned mission to the moon and Mars.
More at the NYT.
As a result, the panel said, the United States will not have the scientific information it needs in the years ahead to analyze severe storms and changes in Earth’s climate unless programs are restored and funding made available.
“NASA’s budget has taken a major hit at the same time that NOAA’s program has fallen off the rails,” said panel co-chairman Berrien Moore III of the University of New Hampshire. “This combination is very, very disturbing, and it’s coming at the very time that we need the information most.”
Someone could argue that this disappearance of research funds at the same time that studies are finally nailing down the problem of global warming is purely a coincidence, if someone wanted to be wrong. This administration systematically disappears any information that might cause political discomfort. It’s so much easier to simply deny problems, and thereby punt them along to some other administration, than do the right thing and deal with them. More.
Via Garance Franke-Ruta.
I didn’t realize that Republicans were so interested in capturing the science fiction geek demographic.
Personally, I see the Mars mission as a self-fulfilling backup plan. That is to say, by the time we finish ruining the Earth’s climate (surely due in part to underfunding NASA’s Earth research), we’d better be ready to start sending people to the moon or Mars! Best start terraforming early–it could take a while!
Once I found out that Mars invented Uncle Ben’s Rice and has made it the largest selling rice on earth, I was on board with further exploration.
I’m part of that hard core Sci-fi geek contigent. I feel that we need to reevaluate our goals to make the space program worth while, and set a lofty goal to aim at, rather than experiments which don’t seem to add anything new.
That being said, I don’t cotton to the idea of stealing from current useful research for this pie in the sky dream. But I do know we need something to dream about, something grander to believe in, to strive for.
That and we still haven’t moved beyond our hunter/gatherer beginnings and that this planet will not last forever.
It seems to me that that the focus of the article is that the problems are mainly due to cost overruns on weather and climate missions. The moon/Mars missions are mentioned almost as a side note. I’m not sure it is fair for you to attempt to make it all about Mars and evil republicans intentionally starving the programs because they don’t like them. The largest issue by far (right now) seems to be these budget overruns – not (possible) future cuts.
Here’s a thought – if money is tight for satellites, don’t pay for 2 year studies involving “almost 100 professionals” to tell you how to prioritize spending money! I can help: Take the ridiculous amount of money you want to spend on a study to tell you how to spend your money and spend it on the damned satellites. That will be $1.5 million dollars please.
Gotta love this bit:
With absolutely NO mention that these same folks made dire predictions of Worst. Hurricane. Season. Ever. for 2006.
For the record: I think the earth science side is important and would like to see it fully funded. I also want to see Mars funded. I’m just tired of the chicken-little tactics, and the constant attempts to portray climate studies as the most worthy of funding at the cost of other things because we’re all gonna die otherwise.
OK – have at it, pile on…
Ok, I’m calling your bluff. Link? I didn’t see anyone–and I mean anyone predicting anything worse than 2005. Check, your move.
My pleasure, OC. It is just as crucial to find out firmly, as early as possible, that GW is NOT a dangerous threat as it is to confirm that it IS a threat. Any countermeasures we take against it will be expensive as hell; it would be damned destructive to start taking them prematurely if they actually are unnecessary. So what the hell valid reason does this administration have for choking off the very investigations that are by far the most likely to settle the whole question fast?
Why, it has no VALID reason. Its reason is the one Tim stated: “It’s so much easier to simply deny problems, and thereby punt them along to some other administration, than do the right thing and deal with them.” Hardly surprising, since its entire foreign and economic policy consists of doing exactly the same thing.
Amd, by the way, while I’ve been personally absolutely fascinated by Solar System exploration since 1964 (as the little girl said in her book review, I could tell you more about it than you wanted to know), I do not confuse that with a belief in the morality of spending money hand over fist on it at a time that both the national economy and the entire structure of human civilization are in danger of, you know, collapse. (Especially when that spending consists of something as staggeringly cost-inefficient as MANNED space exploration at our current stage of technology — or, as Tom Lehrer put it four decades ago, “spending $40 billion of your money to put some clown on the Moon.” “Nature” recently quoted him to that effect in an editorial, quite correctly.)
Cost overruns and budget cuts are two different things. Both happened.
Not every important bit ends up in the lede. We already know that the moon/Mars missions have eaten important resources so I can assume you’re not saying that the article was inaccurate.
You might have a problem with the degree to which moon/Mars will eat important resources, which is fair enough. Try a short thought experiment. Imagine the resources that it would take to create a manned base on the moon including transport, construction, materials and the massive R&D needed to get there. Now imagine NASA’s current budget. Which is bigger? This thought experiment was brought to you by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, common sense and the letter D.
Ha ha. Cute.
As you may know, an unexpectedly strong el Nino acted as a damper on the nucleation of hurricanes. You are dangerously close to the irritating climate vs. weather fallacy, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you didn’t know.
Cool. I want magic flying pants and I know several people who want America to win in Iraq. Some things sound great until you work out that no matter of wanting will make them practical.
$40 billion to send the current cast of clowns in the Whitehouse to the moon seems like a bargain.
Real SF fen don’t call it skiffy.
Checkmate, you win. I checked and you are correct. NOAA predicted “a very active hurricane season”, and “13 to 16 named storms, with eight to 10 becoming hurricanes, of which four to six could become ‘major’ hurricanes of Category 3 strength or higher”.
I remember dire predictions though, going on for months. In hindsight that is likely more related to the poor state of recovery from 2005 – i.e. here comes another active season and we haven’t even made decent progress on the 05 disaster. I retract.
To rephrase: NOAA predicted a very active season and it was the quietest in my memory. 10 named storms, 5 hurricanes, 2 major, no landfall.
I agreed that I would like to see it fully funded. I agree with the research going forward. I just don’t agree that it needs to be NASA’s number one funding priority at the expense of other projects. Give NASA more money across the board – I’m all for that. Cancel every earmark in the next budget and give every dime of that to NASA – I’d applaud.
No – just disagreeing with your spin. Reading your post I expected to see the article focusing on how those other projects were totally crippling earth science. Instead I found that aspect got a minor mention in comparison to other issues. We all highlight what we think is important of course, but I thought you were jumping through some hoops to make that article all about Mars and evil republicans intentionally de-funding projects they don’t like.
Seriously – in an article lamenting budgetary problems, did you not find it a tad ironic that they paid for a 2 year project involving almost 100 professionals to tell them how they should prioritize their budget? I wish I could find a reference to what that cost (looking, no luck yet). Only a government agency…
I understand – different models, short term vs. long term, chaotic vs. not. But I submit that el Nino is closer on the scale to climate than to weather. That is, el Nino is not “weather”, correct? It is a weather maker. It has long term trends, and it has been studied for years – so why was it “unexpectedly” strong? Because they could not predict el Nino their hurricane forecast was inaccurate.
BTW – Democrats now control the purse strings. They can adjust NASA’s budget however they like. They can add money to the proposed budget and tie it to earth science. Bitching and moaning about the administration will get you buckas – you know they ain’t going to change.
Put the effort into the Democrats.
I get it. Expectations != perception, cortical layer 3b neurons fire and kick the perception up another level of consciousness until a processing center is found that can deal with it. Said center was not found so you kicked the question to me and I answered. If you read my blog you will hear often about the obvious drawbacks of moon/Mars planning compared with nonexistent benefits (we’re not going). The stories also describe how the useful projects are simply being slashed directly, which is a two-fer sale as far as I’m concerned.
Um, no. El Nino is a stochastic event that is notoriously difficult to predict. It is hard to come up with something that better describes the opposite of what we mean by ‘climate.’
Parallel sentence structuring Jonathan, no sense in using in-clique Jargon that doesn’t serve a specialized purpose except to create a new language between insiders and outsiders.
Damn my technical writing background.
Hmm.. I was responding to someone who called themselves a “part of that hard core Sci-fi geek contigent”.
I was just pointing out that _real_ hard core SF geeks don’t call it skiffy. If one truly wishes to be part of the clique, then one should know the correct terminology.
To fen, skiffy is a derogatory term and is not to be confused with true SF upon pain of singing bad filk songs.