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Trump White House Quietly Cancels NASA Research Verifying Greenhouse Gas Cuts (sciencemag.org) 290

Paul Voosen, reporting for Science magazine: You can't manage what you don't measure. The adage is especially relevant for climate-warming greenhouse gases, which are crucial to manage -- and challenging to measure. In recent years, though, satellite and aircraft instruments have begun monitoring carbon dioxide and methane remotely, and NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models of the planet's flows of carbon. Now, President Donald Trump's administration has quietly killed the CMS, Science has learned.

The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University's Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. "If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement," she says. Canceling the CMS "is a grave mistake," she adds.

Trump White House Quietly Cancels NASA Research Verifying Greenhouse Gas Cuts

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  • Other countries need to fill in as the US culls science programs and generally sets itself back to the stone age. After all, you'll need to know how much CO2 is being emitted when the US has to come crawling back years from now to buy carbon credits from the EU and China...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This isn't a uniquely Republican / Democrat United States problem. It's a problem in the UK and and it's a problem in Australia and so likely in most Western Democracies.

      Simplistic ideas presented with easy-to-remember slogans defeat any complexity because of how humans work. Very few voters have any understanding of the various issues facing modern society, so politicians can say whatever they want without really being held to account in any kind of realistic fashion.

      As a meta-example, it would be easy for

      • I would say good post, but I think it is better to say sad post. You are spot on.
      • The Republican / Democrat divide is a perfect example of humans inability to process nuance outside their areas of deep understanding, which are generally very narrow if they exist at all.

        I think that part of the problem is that our political system with first past the post style voting actively creates a two party system that invariably draws various lines in the sand to create such a divide, removing any room for nuance. There is no major political party with seats at the table that allows someone to be pro-drug, pro-abortion, pro gay marriage, pro-gun, pro border wall, and pro-GMO all at the same time. Such a person isn't going to fit with either dominant party or the positions that they'

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          European countries like Germany have their proportional representation systems. That ends up with rainbow alliances where getting a majority large enough to form a government ends up with complex compromise agreements trading policies in order to get into power. Then at any point in time, the government can end up dissolving and requiring a new national election because one party falls out with the others in the alliance.

          Just adding a third party can also cause these problems. The UK ended up with a hung pa

          • It doesn't stop plutocracy, but it certainly helps.

            Individuals should fund elections, and individuals solely the constituents of those to be elected. No outside money from anywhere.

            Issues-based voting should also reveal ALL of the donors to ALL sides of the issues. Out them.

            All lobbying efforts should reveal all of the payers so that we know exactly who they are. Reveal the hidden agendas. Let us know who is behind what. Make the information easily accessible the second the monies are spent, not long afterw

            • It doesn't stop plutocracy, but it certainly helps.

              Ya, but the promotion of Pluto back to a planet will help them hold onto power.

          • That ends up with rainbow alliances where getting a majority large enough to form a government ends up with complex compromise agreements trading policies in order to get into power

            Making compromises is not actually a bad thing.

      • by hondo77 ( 324058 )

        ...it would be easy for me to get on your Republican-bashing bandwagon...

        I keep looking at the post you're replying to and I don't see the word "Republican" anywhere. Please help me to find it:

        Other countries need to fill in as the US culls science programs and generally sets itself back to the stone age. After all, you'll need to know how much CO2 is being emitted when the US has to come crawling back years from now to buy carbon credits from the EU and China...

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by WindBourne ( 631190 )
      LOL.
      U do realize that America has dropped our CO2 as much as Europe has (25% since 1990) while China has gone up 400% over the same time? And it is America that continues to drop our CO2, while Europe has flatlined for nearly 5 years. China had appeared to stall for 201[56] and then rose again last year, and appears to be continuing that rise this year. Do note that China had a MAJOR economic downturn during 201[56] and is back to its previous path.
      • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @10:40AM (#56595542) Homepage
        According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org], in 2015 the US emitted 16.1 tonnes per person while China emitted 7.7 tonnes and the EU 6.9 tonnes. So, compared to the EU and China, the US has quite a lot of catching up to do. The explosive growth of China is a problem, but they are also taking large scale initiatives to do something about it.
        • Catching up is not the issue. America is headed in the correct direction. The issue is that nearly all nations are emitting too much.
          Even Europe at 6.9 is way too much. We need to be down around where greenland, iceland, and costa rica are.
          America continues to close coal plants, not build any news ones, and instead, invest mostly into AE (and nat gas plants, which needs to stop). That is why America continues to lower our CO2 emissions while China's, India's, etc continues to grow. OTOH, The problem is t
          • Who cares what direction you are heading in if you are not moving fast enough to make a difference? 25 years you have been moving 'in the right direction' and what is the result? You are still twice as bad as China.

            Per capita an America uses more coal powered electricity than a Chinese person does. Due to the fact Americans use so more electricity! [shrinkthatfootprint.com]

          • American households waste an extreme amount of electricity. [shrinkthatfootprint.com] You could cut back from your current more than 3 times the world average to say Australian levels of just twice the world average, and drop a massive amount of coal. Maybe even enough to drop down to China's levels.

            But you just don't want to do it. It's far easier to just complain about other people catching up.Rather than stop to think why you are so far ahead in the first place.

      • Same old Windy, same tired old claims.

        Despite China's coal use, they are still less than half your per capita emissions. Like you mentioned earlier, despite the US dropping for 25 years and China rising for 25 years. You still haven't cleaned up to their level and they haven't increased to yours. The real problem is you and people like you who are too afraid to look in the mirror and see who the real polluters are. You are twice China and way above the world average but pretend to be solving the problem.
        Ma

      • Don't pat yourself on the back too hard WindBourne. America's CO2 emissions are going back up in 2018 [reuters.com]

        In 2018, however, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation, power plants, homes and businesses should climb about 2.2 percent, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said. That increase would be due to forecasts for a colder winter, higher economic growth and rising gas prices, the EIA said.

  • Why NASA? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deathlizard ( 115856 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @10:10AM (#56595226) Homepage Journal

    Why would a Climate Monitoring System be under NASA and not NOAA?

    I would think that NASA's only role in this should be launching and maintaining the satellites. The Science and Climate Monitoring itself should be under NOAA control.

    • that is what would be happening had trump not killed this. However, in order to understand other planets, we need to understand our own, first.
    • Why would a Climate Monitoring System be under NASA and not NOAA?

      I would think that NASA's only role in this should be launching and maintaining the satellites. The Science and Climate Monitoring itself should be under NOAA control.

      That's an interesting question, though not really relevant, because Trump didn't move the research to NOAA, he just cancelled it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Precisely. NOAA is handling it, and their funding was 100% maintained. NASA is refocusing on space and exploration. Additionally, people here don't understand that funding comes from Congress - not the President. If a program's funding was cut, it was cut by Congress.
    • Yeah! And why does the NAVY have PLANES! I mean, HELLO! We have an air force!

      Or, you know, maybe Noah and NASA are exploring 2 different things?

      • The Army used to have an air force too. Just because you did something before doesn't mean you need to keep doing it. Provide a real justification for the Navy and Air force to be separate. The USMC doesn't have ships and they function fine even though they spend a boat load of time at sea aboard Navy vessels.
    • While it is true that one could argue for putting all monitoring under a single agency, the fact is that for a whole bunch of historical reasons that isn't the case. In general, NOAA has done more direct monitoring of the climate as is, while NASA has done more for CO2 and methane levels themselves. This is due in part to them both having different primary areas of expertise (and given that NASA has done chemistry investigations for other planets they have relevant expertise where atmospheric chemistry is c
  • Even if you think global warming is overhyped, this is still a bad thing, because more environmental data is always good for science.
    • Not just for science, but also to keep every nation honest. Right now, lots of nations are lying which is why the CO2 continues to grow faster than what it is supposed to.
      • That doesn't matter to me. Scientific data is important, though.
        • Science data that is in a vacuum is actually worthless. Imagine science data that is captured and never looked at by anybody or used in any fashion. What is the value in that? Nothing. It is when it is used by ppl to either learn new things, come up with new ideas, or help direct us in new/better directions, that it becomes useful.
          • That's what they said about some schmuck writing down mercury thermometer measurements every day in his old notebook a century ago.

            Now these measurements allow us to create a nice graph of the temperature changes. Collecting data is useful, even if you don't see an immediate need for it.

            • that is EXACTLY my point. Science Data in a true vacuum is worthless. Once it is looked at and put into proper context with other data, is when it becomes magnificent.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      The thing about a worryingly large amount of people with strong political leanings, particularly those on the right, really don't like data either as they think it's going to be used to argue against their stance on issues. You can see the same in the Dickey Amendment, put in place by NRA lobbying, and how it severely restricted the CDC's ability to spend money on collecting and analyzing data relating to gun violence. It did so from 1993 up until a few months ago and still continues to restrict them from d
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @10:12AM (#56595252) Journal
    One of the biggest issues going on with CO2 is that a number of nations are cheating at this. For most of the western nations, we have loads of ground, sky, and space monitoring. However, nations like CHina, block all ground monitoring except for their own. As such, when groups like IEA report on energy usage, or CO2 emissions, they are simply taking numbers from those govs. Yet, when OCO2 went up, it forced China to admit that they were burning 17% more coal, which interestingly, none of the current figures have been updated with. [theguardian.com] Right now, OCO2, along with Japanese GOSAT, [nies.go.jp] can do is show relative numbers and not absolute. What is needed now, is absolute measurements, which OCO3, combined with the other 3 sats can provide.

    Keep in mind that China is NOT the only nation cheating. Plenty of others are cheating as well.

    The other real possibility, perhaps one that is better, would be to have private funding of multiple sats. If we can get a pass over areas every hour or two, it will show what is really going on.
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      I think you might have found the perfect US political spin for this: it's not that canceling monitoring is bad for the environment, it's that it helps China cheat.

      • Hey, I would piss on a spark plug to restore that. Simple fact is, that we need it for so many reasons and it is one of the CHEAPEST means of getting that data. OCO3 is built and ready to take up to the ISS. It would cost us less 5M, probably less than $1M.
    • Why do we care again? None of those nations actually committed to doing anything. In case you forgot, the Paris Climate Accord was an agreement where each nation set their own goals and there were no penalties for not meeting them and no benefits to meeting them early.
  • by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @10:14AM (#56595274)

    They withdrew from the PCA a year ago, so monitoring compliance of countries in the Accords is not within the USA's purview anymore.

    • why? Paris accord was a joke. It solved NOTHING. Just like Kyoto, which was supposed to slow down growth, it did NOTHING. Until we require ALL NATIONS to drop their CO2 and become more like Greenland/iceland/sweden/costa rica in terms of their CO2 emission, these accords will do NOTHING.
      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @11:42AM (#56595984) Homepage
        The perfect is the enemy of the good. As it is, the US has shown that it is not willing, as a nation, to do anything to address AGW or even just harmful pollution, usually under the pretense that other nations aren't doing their part or that the accords don't go far enough. The latter is especially hypocritical considering the focus is on killing attempts at monitoring emissions and trying to restart antiquated, dirty forms of power production.
        • If America is not doing anything, that why has our CO2 gone down each year for the last 9 years?
        • I'll explain this again as I have before countless times. Any money spent on AGW (as opposed to addressing pollution) is taken away from other programs which could save countless lives. You have to look not only at the need, but the opportunity cost and you have to set priorities. Capitalism has saved many lives by ramping up economies that could adapt to the needs of the every growing world population. Still people need aid and if we spend money on AGW, we can't provide as much aid. Or if we provide aid an
      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        What does that have to do with what I wrote?

      • why? Paris accord was a joke. It solved NOTHING. Just like Kyoto, which was supposed to slow down growth, it did NOTHING. Until we require ALL NATIONS to drop their CO2 and become more like Greenland/iceland/sweden/costa rica in terms of their CO2 emission, these accords will do NOTHING.

        Well, they do signal what team you are on, the Virtuous, or the Awful Meanies. That's something, I guess ...

    • Which countries have met the PCA guidelines, or are on track to do so? HINT: it's a short list, limited to the ONE country that has pulled out. All others, who stayed in the PCA, are on-track to exceed their commitments.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Headline doesn't mention that the US is simply not measuring greenhouse emissions to ensure Paris Climate compliance, because after all, why should the US spend money on something it was withdrawn from?

    • So the Paris Climate Accords are the only possible reason why you might want to measure atmospheric gas compositions?

      • by tomhath ( 637240 )
        No, but the Paris Climate Accords are the only reason you would want to measure it to ensure compliance. There's plenty of other work ongoing.
  • Considering the enormous size of the federal budget and how many considerably more expensive programs are in it, it really makes you wonder why Trump would cut such a small program. It's obviously not for fiscal reasons as that's chump change and it's not for political reasons either as it's only going to piss people off, particularly educated people. No, the only logical reason I can think of is special interests groups representing heavily polluting industries lobbied him into doing it so that they can po
    • by Stele ( 9443 )

      Isn't it obvious?

      $10M doesn't seem like much, but if he can cut several small programs like this he can make enough room in the budget for that $650M homeless shelter Melania has been helping out with.

      It's pretty clear his old buddy Murray Blum has been helping out with these cuts.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Trump learning the ropes? Errr....he learns? 4 bankruptcies in a row didn't teach him anything. Now he's doing to the countries what he did to the banks stupid enough to lend to him.

  • The first sentence makes the assumption that you can manage it. As everybody knows, when you make an assumption, you make an ass out of you and umption.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      By that logic, the contrary assumption that we cannot manage carbon emissions is equally foolish.

      Again using that logic solely as our guide, our only choice is to make our best possible effort to manage carbon emissions, not because we assume it will work, but because that's the only way we'll find out.

      • That's not how it works. The person making the original positive claim is the one who has the burden to prove their claim. Also, you can't prove a negative. Sure, we could control the climate with infinite resources and a giant heat sink the size of a small planet but that's not the point. The point is can you control the climate while not bankrupting the world economy.
    • You make an ass and the ump will tion you. -Will Smith
  • Such monetary figures equate to a basement project for likes of Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, Al Gore, etc. Each of those charlatans has aircraft and maintenance costs that approach $65 million dollars - just to spew carbon for their collective convenience they're paying it already.

    They can pay for this easy

  • by will_die ( 586523 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @10:50AM (#56595616) Homepage
    First, it has hardly quiet, it was talked about months ago, it was published that the funding was going to other programs that NASA put at a higher priority, and the federal spokesmen even answered questions about the program ending. What would be needed to not make it a silent closing?
    Second, the people complaining are those that were making money from it. According to this [slashdot.org] and other article if you have any financial interest in it, you are not a scientist but a shill. All the people mentioned in the article are nothing but shills and upset "their" money is going to others.
    Third, this is a duplication on effort. There are already others who are doing the exact same measurements.
  • Quietly? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @11:11AM (#56595756) Journal

    The real news is Trump did something quietly.

  • They are supposed to create the budget that includes funding for research such as this. They haven't done a proper budget in years. Besides, how important is this compared to boondoggles like like California's high speed rail "to no where" that is getting Federal money. You can't fund everything so if you have something you care about call up your representative. If you can't be bothered I guess it really isn't that important.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday May 11, 2018 @02:16PM (#56597122)

    NASA's Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a $10-million-a-year research line, has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks into high-resolution models

    Yes, but...

    The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords

    Well since the U.S. is not *in* the Paris Climate Accords, why should we spend $10/million a year on something we do not need?

    If the countries still clinging to that accord really want the data that badly, they can fund it.

    • Well since the U.S. is not *in* the Paris Climate Accords, why should we spend $10/million a year on something we do not need?

      Here's a tip that might help you in life. It's good to have information. It allows you to make better decisions.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!

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