Friday, March 17, 2017

Trump's Budget Reflects a Policy of Deliberate Ignorance

There is a great deal that can be said about Trump's "skinny budget" released earlier this week.  (I joked with a friend that the cuts in anti-poverty programs looks like it was drafted by a teenager living in an upper middle class suburb who just finished reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. )  I think, however, that the real headline is this:  Trump's budget displays that his Administration does not merely deny climate change, but instead simply doesn't care if it is true.  Instead, the budget displays a policy of deliberate ignorance by zeroing out all scientific research on the topic.

The most stunning example of this is how the budget deals with NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).  This is satellite that is already in space (at a cost of $141 million).  It has two sets of sensors: one focused on the Sun to detect space weather events (such as solar flares).  The second set of sensors focus on the earth, and includes a camera that takes images of the earth across 10 different parts of the visual spectrum and  a radiometer that measures how much sunlight is reflected and emitted from earth.  These sensors monitor changes in the Earth's climate and weather patterns.  This data can constitute a barometer for the process of global warming.

The Trump budget keeps the program that involves the solar weather sensors, but simply turns off the sensors  from the earth-viewing instruments.  Cost savings can't be a reason for turning off the Earth-facing sensors because NASA spends just a bit more than $1 million to operate the satellite and process its data--most of which it will continue to spend on the space weather mission.

In other words, while we have already spent over $140 million dollars to put these sensors in space, the Trump budget demands that we stop collecting the data.   This is the very definition of deliberate ignorance.  Simply put, they don't care to know the truth, and are taking steps to actively prevent us from learning the truth.  This seems to reflect the view that if we stop doing science on climate change, we no longer have to do anything about it.

This policy of deliberate ignorance permeates the budget.  In addition to DSCOVR, the budget three other NASA missions that would have observed the Earth from Space:  PACE, OCO-3, and the CLARREO Pathfinder.  It eliminates all funding for EPA's climate research.  As I noted in a previous post, it drastically cuts NOAA weather satellite program, likely leading to the elimination of a critical polar satellite.

More generally, the budget reflects not merely a policy of deliberate ignorance toward climate research, but a disregard of science in general.  It includes cuts in science spending of at least $7 billion, including an 18% cut in medical research at the National Institutes of Health, and the elimination of the Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency.

When I think about what has made "America Great", our scientific and technological achievements certainly come to the top of the list.  By not merely cutting science research, but by displaying a policy of deliberate ignorance to critical climate research, this budget will not make American Great.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that interesting post , here we have a certain issue indeed , and deeper observation is needed :

    Many thinks have been written about Trump and his empathy towards dictators and dictatorships. H.Clinton , even stressed further , that he needs to see a shrink , for such " dictatorial tendencies " .

    Yet, no empathy towards the Chineses!! And why ?? This is simply due to the fact, that Trade and economic prosperity, are very important or major issues for Trump (when asserting over and over, or preaching over and over for the greatness of the US).

    Now , China as a major competitor in the global arena in trade terms , has according to Trump , enhanced the issue of climate change and global action in this regard , simply in order to take down the US , in that global competition for trade and financial success .

    So for him , this is simply a conspiracy of the Chinese for decreasing the industrial output of the US .

    One needs only to explain to him , that for the greatness of America , one absolutely needs to rely not only on high tech and the silicon valley . No offense, but the those guys are the " morons " of the science. Science in the more substantial terms, has to do with deeper layers: physics, biology, cosmology and so forth…. And not applications for smart phones or such , with all due respect . This is a simple fact , simple truth . In the long run, research in such domains, would finally shape the greatness of America, and shall form the upper hand on China ,and particularly in trade and economic terms .

    Links :

    Clinton on Trump :

    Conspiracy of the Chinese: