Donald Trump has been a critic of the concept of climate change in the past, and it appears his administration will reflect his skepticism. A report from the Guardian indicates Trump will eliminate all climate change related research conducted by NASA.
The report cites a senior advisor to President-elect Trump, who said the move would be part of a crackdown on “politicized science.”
The decision could spell an end to NASA’s massive network of satellites that provide significant amounts of data regarding weather and climate. According to the agency’s budget estimates, it expects to increase its spending on earth science research to nearly $2 billion in 2017.
In place of the in-depth information gathering on the earth’s climate, the Trump administration would shift the focus of NASA back to space. This would represent a considerable change of emphasis for NASA, which has decreased its overall spending on space exploration while partnering with commercial companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. NASA is estimated to spend $2.8 billion on space exploration next year.
Trump has been an active voice in supporting more space exploration through NASA. At an Oct. 25 rally in Sanford, Fla., Trump laid out his interest in moving NASA’s gaze beyond the earth.
"I will free NASA from the restriction of serving primarily as a logistics agency for low-Earth orbit activity—big deal,” he said. “Instead, we will refocus its mission on space exploration. Under a Trump Administration, Florida and America will lead the way into the stars."
At a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Aug. 3, Trump suggested the U.S. space program had been decimated and said it was like the program of “a third-world nation."
Ditching research in regard to climate change perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise, either; President-elect Trump has been a vocal critic of the concept, suggesting at one point that global warming was a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese to harm American manufacturing.
Trump’s conclusion would seem to fly in the face of scientific consensus, which finds the Earth's climate is unequivocally warming, and that it is extremely likely—95 percent probability or higher—that the warming effect is caused at least in part by humans.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin issued a correction for Trump following his election, noting that it was two republican presidents—Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush—who first brought the conversation about climate change to the global stage.
Trump hasn’t responded to Zhenmin, but has softened on his critique of climate change. In a meeting with the New York Times Tuesday, Trump told reporters and editors at the paper that he thinks there is “some” connectivity between human activity and global warming, but wasn’t sure how big of an impact it truly had.
In the interview with the Times Trump promised to keep an “open mind” regarding climate change, but if the Guardian report is correct it would seem his mind might already be made up.