January 16, 2007

Another way the Bush administration's policies affect the average citizen

Budget cuts are gutting our ability to "understand and predict hurricanes":

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. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, meanwhile, has experienced enormous cost overruns and schedule delays with its premier weather and climate mission.

The budget for earth science programs for NASA and NOAA increased substantially in the 1990s, and that resulted in an unprecedented number of weather- and climate-monitoring missions in the past five years. But the report found that, as the current satellites deteriorate, the number of space-based Earth-observation missions will decline steadily through 2010, as will the number of instruments in space to gather weather, climate and environmental data.

"If things aren't reversed, we will have passed the high-water mark for our Earth observations," said co-chairman Richard Anthes of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. "This country should not be headed in this direction. . . . We need to know more, not less, about long-term aspects of climate change, about trends in droughts and hurricanes, about what's happening in terms of fish stocks and deforestation."

Granted, it looks like there is the usual set of government cock-ups going on with delays and budgets, but the response isn't to let things shrivel and die, but rather effective program maintenance.

Posted by binky at January 16, 2007 09:22 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Ecology | Natural Disasters | Science

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