Plan for the future

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The White House urgently needs to set out a clear plan for how it intends to monitor the state of Earth.


President Barack Obama’s administration released its first national strategy for civil Earth observations on 19 April. The report comes six years after the US National Research Council (NRC) warned that inadequate funding and mismanagement had put ‘at great risk’ the United States’ ability to monitor Earth from space. The strategy does little to reassure.

The 60-page document, written by a federal task force, lays out a process to determine the types of observations that deserve government support. But it does not provide what is most urgently needed: clear and specific guidance from the White House on what the government considers to be the most important Earth-science satellite missions — or when they should be launched.

That type of plan, long overdue, grows more important as the fiscal crisis deepens and the demand for such observations rises (see page 13). Meanwhile, the country’s ageing collection of Earth-observing satellites continues its long decline. The number of US probes is likely to dwindle from 23 to just 6 by 2020, threatening to degrade scientists’ ability to track climate change, forecast weather and monitor natural disasters.

Obama is one of many to blame for the brewing crisis. The lack of leadership at the White House is matched by the intransigence of Congress, which set in motion the across-the-board sequestration spending cuts that took effect on 1 March, slashing about 5% from the budgets of NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other key science agencies.

Written By: Nature
continue to source article at nature.com

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  1. Tough to put too much of this blame on Obama. Quite a bit of effort goes into these proposals and why expend all that time and manpower just watch them burned at the congressional stake by the snickering anti-science crowd ruling the House right now.

    • In reply to #1 by rjohn19:

      Tough to put too much of this blame on Obama. Quite a bit of effort goes into these proposals and why expend all that time and manpower just watch them burned at the congressional stake by the snickering anti-science crowd ruling the House right now.

      Also, the US political system is a bit baroque in some ways. There are a lot of checks and balances built into the system and since Congress controls the budget there are many subtle ways they can interfere and block work even though its the executive branch that usually controls the organizations that make these reports. And the current lunatics in Congress are ignoring precedent and blocking every single thing the executive branch tries to do in a way the nation has literally never seen in our history.

  2. I most want to see plans that look out 100+ years. We really should not do anything that will almost certainly drive our species extinct or make their lives unbearable. So many of the idiotic decisions are made because no one looks past the next quarter. In that view, postponing dealing with climate change is rational and economic. The problem is, postponing big problems means they eventually rise to the top of the attention pile, but you have nowhere near enough time or resources to deal with them.

    It is the same mentality as students at university who try to prepare for exams by doing a cramming allnighter.

    It may be possible to get more international co-operation by talking about the far future. People are more willing to do the right thing later.

  3. I don’t know anything about this plan or the process to create it. But any time I see an article on US politics that decries how “neither side gets anything done” my BS detector starts flashing. I’m not Obama’s biggest fan, see my recent comments about drones on the article on Pakistan, but compared to the GOP — well there is no comparison. The GOP leaders are just insane. Really, its not hyperbole they are literally completely disconnected from reality. Most of the things they say bare little resemblance to the real world and their view of science doesn’t just go back to before modern science it goes back before the enlightenment.

    • In reply to #3 by Red Dog:

      I don’t know anything about this plan or the process to create it. But any time I see an article on US politics that decries how “neither side gets anything done” my BS detector starts flashing. I’m not Obama’s biggest fan, see my recent comments about drones on the article on Pakistan, but compared…

      True. While neither party is accomplishing much of value, one could guess with near perfect accuracy the affiliation of anyone spouting over-the-top anti-scientific remarks before ever seeing their name. I get political conservatism — we need it like we need good brakes on a car, but it isn’t what moves us forward.

      }}}}

    • In reply to #5 by old-toy-boy:

      Easy, Just count the tornados, ( sorry, could not resist, apologies to those who lost their homes).

      Actually, some of the summer-like days in the dead of winter has opened a few eyes. Summer temperatures quickly shooting up to 100 degrees F then dropping to 50 degrees F opened a few more. Perhaps it will take snow in July for some eyes to finally be opened.

  4. Red Dog- Here’s the thing. Today, I don’t know if the money is driving it all or if ideology has the larger part of this. But what I see is a debilitating power grab- to hell with the country, let’s just get back in full power. Compromise is dead. Just kill off the opposition at any cost. It scares me as much as it sickens me.

    • In reply to #7 by rjohn19:

      Red Dog- Here’s the thing. Today, I don’t know if the money is driving it all or if ideology has the larger part of this. But what I see is a debilitating power grab- to hell with the country, let’s just get back in full power. Compromise is dead. Just kill off the opposition at any cost. It s…

      I agree. And just talking about it won’t make it go away. People who aren’t normally political need to get active. I have a lot of issues with Obama (e.g. Bradley Manning’s treatment) but he was infinitely better than Romney by many orders of magnitude and I put in some time from home supporting him, mostly by making phone calls using their online calling tool. Its pretty cool, you login and it gives you a number to call and a script to follow. Mostly I got hung up on or didn’t get through but I had some interesting conversations as well and I think I helped just a bit and it takes everyone doing something to make a difference.

      I plan to do the same thing in the coming 2014 election. The Obama organization stayed active and will use the same infrastructure to support democrats in the next mid term election. Again, I could give you a list a mile long of things I don’t like about democrats but compared to the lunatic party — really that’s the way I see the Republicans now, they are just out of their minds really no longer connected to reality — compared to them the democrats can at least do some basic things like fund more stimulus money to fix our 3rd world infrastructure. Sorry to get on my soap box but if anyone wants to help out go to the Obama web site and create an account. When the activity starts up you will see options to volunteer in many ways.

      http://www.barackobama.com/

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