In DepthClimate Change

NASA cancels carbon monitoring research program

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Science  11 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6389, pp. 586-587
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6389.586

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  • Re: Trump White House quietly cancels NASA research verifying greenhouse gas cuts (Science, May 9, 2018)
    • Jennifer L. Costley, Director of Physical Sciences, Sustainability & Engineering, The New York Academy of Sciences

    The current administration cites “budget constraints” as a reason for defunding NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS). Ironically, the decision is more likely to drive government waste. By depriving scientists of a vital tool in understanding sources and sinks of carbon emissions, we impede the development of accurate climate impact predictions, which in turn provide crucial guidelines for responsible infrastructure development in the world’s urban areas.

    According to the United Nations, 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas; this is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050. For ten years, the New York Academy of Sciences has published the projections of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, used to inform planning across the New York metropolitan region. If urban planners are to respond responsibly to the negative effects of climate change, they will need accurate guidelines to inform their decisions.

    Our current president promoted rebuilding America’s infrastructure as part of his election platform. But elimination of the CMS—a critical tool for understanding climate impact—will only increase the likelihood of shortsighted or wasteful infrastructure investment decisions. Science denialists are free to reject overwhelming scientific consensus because they are not responsible for dealing with its impact, but responsible urban planners do not have that luxury.

    Competing Interests: None declared.