Trump Proposes Broad Range of Environmental, Energy and Health Cuts

Credit: NASA

If anyone had the slightest hope that Donald Trump might spare global warming research in his proposed spending plan, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney stuck a knife through it during a contentious press conference on Thursday.

“As to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward saying we’re not spending money on that anymore,” he said. “We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.”

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Fearing Trump, Coders Back Up NASA Climate Data

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

Wired has a fascinating story about coders who are backing up NASA climate data and keeping tabs on changes to U.S. government websites:

Like similar groups across the country—in more than 20 cities—they believe that the Trump administration might want to disappear this data down a memory hole. So these hackers, scientists, and students are collecting it to save outside government servers.

But now they’re going even further. Groups like DataRefuge and the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which organized the Berkeley hackathon to collect data from NASA’s earth sciences programs and the Department of Energy, are doing more than archiving. Diehard coders are building robust systems to monitor ongoing changes to government websites. And they’re keeping track of what’s already been removed—because yes, the pruning has already begun….

One coder who goes by Tek ran into a wall trying to download multi-satellite precipitation data from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Starting in August, access to Goddard Earth Science Data required a login. But with a bit of totally legal digging around the site (DataRefuge prohibits outright hacking), Tek found a buried link to the old FTP server. He clicked and started downloading. By the end of the day he had data for all of 2016 and some of 2015. It would take at least another 24 hours to finish.

The non-coders hit dead-ends too. Throughout the morning they racked up “404 Page not found” errors across NASA’s Earth Observing System website. And they more than once ran across databases that had already been emptied out, like the Global Change Data Center’s reports archive and one of NASA’s atmospheric CO2 datasets.

And this is where the real problem lies. They can’t be sure when this data disappeared (or if anyone backed it up first). Scientists who understand it better will have to go back and take a look. But meantime, DataRefuge and EDGI understand that they need to be monitoring those changes and deletions. That’s more work than a human could do.

Rad the full story.

The Resistance Will Be Tweeted


Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.


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NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern recordkeeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid-20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.

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NASA Earth Science Mission Hampered by Budget, Launcher Issues

Earth_from_Orbit
Although NASA’s Earth Science Division is substantially meeting stakeholder’s needs for Earth observation data, the space agency has fallen behind on launching an ambitious series of missions planned out nearly a decade ago, according to an Office of Inspector General (IG) report released last month.

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Will Trump Scrap NASA’s Climate Research Mission?

Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA

NASA does more than explore other planets; it studies our own.
Agency scientists worry Donald Trump will abort the work.

by Andrew Revkin
ProPublica, Dec. 12, 2016, 8 a.m.

The wonders of NASA 2014 Mars rovers, astronaut Instagram feeds, audacious missions probing distant galactic mysteries 2014 have long enthralled the American public. And, it turns out, the accomplishments have won the agency the public’s trust: Polls have consistently shown NASA to be the second-most trusted government institution, behind only the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The public, however, probably has less appreciation for the work NASA has done on its home planet. NASA’s $2-billion-a-year earth-science program has long tracked global-scale environmental conditions on Earth, including climate change.

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U.S. Scientists Frantically Backing Up Data Before Trump Takes Over

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

There is deepening concern among U.S. scientists about the pending presidency of Donald Trump, whose appointments are turning the nation into the United States of Exxon.

Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference.

The efforts include a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, where experts will copy irreplaceable public data, meetings at the University of Pennsylvania focused on how to download as much federal data as possible in the coming weeks, and a collaboration of scientists and database experts who are compiling an online site to harbor scientific information….

In recent weeks, President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a growing list of Cabinet members who have questioned the overwhelming scientific consensus around global warming. His transition team at the Department of Energy has asked agency officials for names of employees and contractors who have participated in international climate talks and worked on the scientific basis for Obama administration-era regulations of carbon emissions. One Trump adviser suggested that NASA no longer should conduct climate research and instead should focus on space exploration.

Those moves have stoked fears among the scientific community that Trump, who has called the notion of man-made climate change “a hoax” and vowed to reverse environmental policies put in place by President Obama, could try to alter or dismantle parts of the federal government’s repository of data on everything from rising sea levels to the number of wildfires in the country.

Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists, argued that Trump has appointed a “band of climate conspiracy theorists” to run transition efforts at various agencies, along with nominees to lead them who share similar views.

Read the full story.

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Showdown Looms Over NASA Commercial Crew, HLV and Climate Funding

A showdown between the Obama Administration and Congress is looming over the respective funding levels for NASA’s commercial human space flight program, its heavy-lift vehicle development effort, and climate research efforts. The crux of the problem: NASA is trying to quickly close the human spaceflight gap, develop a HLV to unrealistic requirements, and protect the planet. Something might have to give as the government faces strong pressure to reign in spending.

Sound like a looming cluster**** for NASA? Oh, you betcha!

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House Members Want to Dump NASA’s Climate Change Research to Fund Human Spaceflight

PRESS RELEASE

As House leaders examine ways to cut spending and address the ever growing budget deficits that have plagued Washington for years, U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Rob Bishop (R-UT) were joined by several other of their colleagues in calling for a reprioritization of NASA so human space flight remains the primary focus of the nation’s space agency as budget cuts are considered.

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Whitehorn “Hopping Mad” Over Soot Study

The Guardian reports that Virgin Galactic’s Will Whitehorn was “hopping mad” over a recent study indicating that SpaceShipTwo might not be as clean as the company claims:

“The research was fundamentally wrong,” he says. “If you had a Virgin Galactic program running for ten years, if you assumed that we weren’t using biobutinol (which we will) we’re talking about less environmental impact over ten years than 1.5 shuttle launches.”

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IAA Summit Declaration Focuses on HSF, Robotic Exploration, Climate Change and Disaster Management

The heads of 30 space agencies met in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17 to discuss joint policies and programs. (Credit: International Academy of Astronautics)

IAA Summit Declaration

IAA Introductory Remarks

On November 17, 2010, leaders of 30 space agencies from around the world gathered in Washington, D.C. for the International Academy of Astronautics’ (IAA) Heads of Space Agencies Summit. In preparation for the Summit, the IAA received inputs from Academicians, other experts and space agency representatives on the subject of enhancing global collaboration in the following four areas: human spaceflight, planetary robotic exploration, climate change and disaster management. Based upon these inputs the IAA sets forth below its findings and recommendations that were welcomed by the heads of space agencies.

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Russians Aim for Landings on Moon, Mercury, Phobos and Europa

During the International Academy of Astronautics Summit on Wednesday, Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov laid out Russia’s ambitious plans for Solar System exploration, which includes a sample return from Phobos and the Moon as well as landings on the planet Mercury and Jupiter’s moon Europa. The meeting, which was aimed at deepening international cooperation in space, was attended by 27 heads of space agencies.

The Russian space agency and ITAR-TASS reported on Perminov’s comments, which also included remarks about nuclear propulsion, climate change monitoring, asteroid missions, space situational awareness, and the International Space Station.

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Space Review Looks at Space Tourism Soot, Titan’s Smog and Clean Solar Power

Photo by Mark Greenberg

This week in The Space Review

Climate change and suborbital spaceflight
The same day that commercial spaceflight supporters were celebrating the development of Spaceport America, a new study concluded that suborbital flights that facility will host could alter the planet’s climate. Jeff Foust examines the latest research and some of the issues associated with the study.

The mysteries of Titan

Thirty years ago this week Voyager 1 made the first close flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the most intriguing worlds in the solar system. Andrew LePage recounts the research into Titan and the planning that led up to that encounter.

Space solar power’s Indian connection
As the United States and India seek closer ties, should space-based solar power be on the agenda? Jeff Foust reports on developments in that field, including a new joint initiative supported by a former Indian president.

Should Obama Shift Money from NASA to NOAA for Climate Work?

Earth Rise

Cut NASA budget, give NOAA the cash for climate change research
By Robert Cassidy
Building Design & Construction

Here’s my recommendation, Norm: Take a few billion from NASA’s $17 billion budget and give it to poor NOAA, the federal agency that studies our oceans and atmosphere (annual budget: $4 billion). Use those scarce dollars to fund lots more R&D on climate change—ocean exploration, atmospheric studies—research that might help us solve the most vexing problem facing humanity—and the built environment—right here on good ol’ Mother Earth.

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