Congress May Shift Climate Research Away from NASA

By Scott Waldman

Lawmakers are remaking NASA in order to leave parts of the agency’s earth science program untouched but remove its climate change research.

It’s still unclear exactly how lawmakers plan to transform NASA’s mission, but Republicans and Trump administration officials have said they want the agency to focus on deep-space missions and away from climate change research, which is a part of its Earth Sciences Division. That has created uncertainty about the fate of the Earth Sciences Division, which accounts for about $2 billion of NASA’s $20 billion budget.

At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing yesterday, Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said he wants a “rebalancing” of NASA’s mission. The lawmaker told E&E News he wants the agency to reprioritize its mission because the Obama administration cut space exploration funds.

Specifically, that could mean NASA’s work on climate change would go to another agency, with or without funding, or possibly would get cut. Smith and other Republicans avoided laying out specifics but acknowledged that earth science at NASA would likely face some significant changes in the near future.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – Lawmakers are remaking NASA in order to leave parts of the agency’s earth science program untouched but remove its climate change research.

    It’s still unclear exactly how lawmakers plan to transform NASA’s mission, but Republicans and Trump administration officials have said they want the agency to focus on deep-space missions and away from climate change research, which is a part of its Earth Sciences Division.

    Given that Earth Sciences are intrinsically mixed with climate change, only scientifically illiterate lawyers could think the two can be separated!

    What the idiot squad could do is remove the global coverage NASA provides, and direct money to piecemeal local projects.

    While NASA has been a predominant research resource, ultimately the denialists will fail, because however they hobble NASA, the rest of the world’s space agencies run by other counties, will continue with climate research, along with those universities working on long term analysis of existing and currently transmitted data.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Earth_observation_satellites

    I can’t see anyone abandoning weather forecasts, or storm warnings, and collected weather data is climate data!

  2. @OP – It’s still unclear exactly how lawmakers plan to transform NASA’s mission, but Republicans and Trump administration officials have said they want the agency to focus on deep-space missions and away from climate change research, which is a part of its Earth Sciences Division.

    In a cyber war, who makes a better “useful-idiot” for an enemy, than a denier of the cyber-war and denier of foreign interference in the politics and government of a state?

    The boundaries between military surveillance and commercial data availability, have been rapidly blurring in recent decades, so robust hardening of civilian systems against cyber attacks is urgent as bandwidths expand, and volumes of data increase!

    The suggestion that global monitoring and climate monitoring can be stopped by hobbling NASA or spreading false news about “hoaxes” demonstrates a laughable level of bigoted ignorance!
    These data and imaging systems are in the process of going global on a multinational commercial basis!

    http://www.geekwire.com/2016/india-pslv-blacksky-global-pathfinder-satellite/

    India’s PSLV rocket sends BlackSky Global’s first Earth-watching Pathfinder satellite into orbit

    A satellite that’s meant to blaze a trail for Seattle-based BlackSky Global’s Earth-imaging constellation rose into orbit tonight atop India’s four-stage PSLV-C35 rocket.

    BlackSky’s Pathfinder 1 was among eight satellites launched from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota at 8:42 p.m. PT Sunday (9:12 a.m. Monday local time). Over the course of more than two hours, the spacecraft were deployed into two separate sets of orbits.

    For India, the star of the show is the 800-pound SCATSAT-1, which will provide data for improved weather forecasting, particularly for tropical cyclones. But for BlackSky Global, a subsidiary of Seattle’s Spaceflight Industries, it’s all about Pathfinder 1.

    The 97-pound satellite is designed to demonstrate Earth imaging technologies that could eventually make it possible for customers to order up a high-resolution image of virtually any location on Earth for $90, and get the picture 90 minutes after it’s acquired. “It’s all about the democratization of data about the planet,” Spaceflight Industries’ CEO, Jason Andrews, told GeekWire in June.

    Employees gathered at Spaceflight Industries’ Westlake Avenue headquarters to watch the launch on a big screen. “A sweet moment,” BlackSky tweeted.

    If Pathfinder 1 and its yet-to-be-launched twin, Pathfinder 2, perform as expected, BlackSky Global plans to build up the full constellation of 60 Earth-watching satellites by as early as 2020. Spaceflight recently went through a $25 million funding round to support the development of the constellation as well as the software platform for distributing orbital imagery.

  3. I see this grossly misleading negative information is being circulated by denialists!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39053678

    Most wood energy schemes are a ‘disaster’ for climate change

    Using wood pellets to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up not slowing down climate warming.

    That’s according to a new study which says wood is not carbon neutral

    It can be out of balance IF mismanaged.

    and emissions from pellets are higher than coal.

    This is misleading as while coal does produce a better heat output, the CO2 from coal is fossil carbon ADDED to the atmosphere, whereas the CO2 from burning wood is recycled CO2 over a shorter timescale.

    Subsidies for biomass should be immediately reviewed, the author says.

    The figures should certainly include all inputs and outputs, without politicians or propagandists manipulating them.

    Energy from trees has become a critical part of the renewable supply in many countries including the UK.

    While much of the discussion has focussed on wind and solar power, across Europe the biggest source of green energy is biomass.

    It supplies around 65% of renewable power – usually electricity generated from burning wood pellets.

    EU Governments, under pressure to meet tough carbon cutting targets, have been encouraging electricity producers to use more of this form of energy by providing substantial subsidies for biomass burning.

    However this new assessment from Chatham House suggests that this policy is deeply flawed when it comes to cutting CO2.

    According to the author, current regulations do not count the emissions from the burning of wood at all, assuming that they are balanced by the planting of new trees.

    Clearly wood burning schemes are counter productive IF the harvesting exceeds replanting and re growth – resulting in deforestation. There may be valid criticism of particular schemes where this is so, BUT it is absolutely misleading to claim that growing trees for fuel cannot balance absorption and emissions of CO2

    It is also wrong to omit hydro, tidal, nuclear, or waste reduction from the discussion!

    Duncan Brack, the independent environmental policy analyst who wrote the report, says this idea is not credible.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” said Mr Brack, who is also a former special adviser at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

    That I believe is a political appointment!

    “The fact that forests have grown over the previous 20 or 100 years means they are storing large amounts of carbon, you can’t pretend it doesn’t make an impact on the atmosphere if you cut them down and burn them.”

    Which is true IF you incompetently use 100year old mature forest rather than quick growing plantations on a 20 or 40 year cycle, and IF you don’t balance harvesting with replanting.

    “You could fix them in wood products or in furniture or you could burn them, but the impact on the climate is very different.

    **No it isn’t*! There is only a small difference of a few years in the time scale involved!
    Again this is misleading, as the bulk of furniture and wood products do not last for ever, but are dumped to rot, burned as rubbish OR usefully burned to produce energy in a scheme for recycling of combustible waste at the end of their useful lives.

    Mr Brack says the assumption of carbon neutrality misses out on some crucial issues, including the fact that young trees planted as replacements absorb and store less carbon than the ones that have been burned.

    Again this is misleading, as in properly run schemes, while tiny newly planted trees do absorb little CO2, the calculations should be based on the (approx) 40 year harvesting cycle, NOT just the first years after replanting.

    This shortfall is short term, and overall where systems are managed on a national scale, the high absorption in later years, and low initial levels immediately after planting, average out over the large number of forest plantations involved in being harvested at different times!

    Burning wood pellets can release more carbon than fossil fuels like coal per unit of energy, over their full life cycle, the author argues.

    So what! – This is a marginal difference, and is irrelevant to the fossil fuel atmospheric additions V absorption and recycling of CO2 using biofuels!

    Often the products have to travel long distances increasing the emissions associated with their production and transport.

    This is a valid point, and transport generated CO2 should be taken into account, – unless biofuels or other green power sources are used for the transport.
    Ideally wood production should be as near to the power plants as possible.

    Within the EU, the UK is the biggest importer of wood pellets for heat and power, with some 7.5m tonnes shipped from the US and Canada in 2015-16. Most of these imports comes from the southeast US, where there are growing concerns about the trade.

    “This report confirm once again that cutting down trees and burning them as wood pellets in power plants is a disaster for climate policy, not a solution,” said David Carr, General Counsel of the Southern Environmental Law Centre in the US.

    “Forests in our region, the southeast US, are being clear cut to provide wood pellets for UK power plants. The process takes the carbon stored in the forest and puts it directly into the atmosphere via the smokestack at a time when carbon pollution reductions are sorely needed.”

    It seems that US commercialism, can even achieve environmental mismanagement in doing business in green energy – while denialists blame the green energy concept, rather than the commercial mismanagement of forests!

    The new study also highlights concerns over the use of BECCS – bio-energy with carbon capture and storage.

    Scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have suggested that this system could be used to suck carbon from the atmosphere to keep the world from dangerous levels of warming.

    Capturing CO2 from the atmosphere in biomass, burning it and sequestering the CO2 underground, would REMOVE CO2 from the atmosphere if it can be done effectively and economically.

    “It’s really worrying,” said Duncan Brack.

    Yep denial stooges do find real green answers to climate change worrying to carbon industry vested interests!

    “The number of scenarios that the IPCC reviewed that rely on BECCS for ambitious climate change targets, it’s crazy, I’m not the only person who’s said that.”

    I am sceptical about the extent to which carbon capture is viable, but an assertion that it is “crazy” at the end of a misleading article, does not constitute evidence!
    I am also not aware of the IPCC placing any “great reliance” carbon capture, rather than solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal, heat pumps, better insulation, negawatts, nuclear, hydroelectric, more efficient appliances, etc!

  4. So if we want to see how the harvesting of timber is properly managed by people who actually know what they are talking about, we can look here!

    http://www.visitkielder.com/about-us/how-it-all-works

    The workings of the forest

    Kielder Water & Forest Park forms part of the largest man made forest in Northern Europe. Each year the Forestry Commission harvests around half a million cubic metres of timber with the wood being used for many applications:

    constructional grade timber for house building
    logs for pallet wood and fencing
    small roundwood for chipboard and other panel products
    pulpwood for card production
    wood fuel both for domestic and industrial uses.

    There are around 200 people employed both directly and indirectly in timber harvesting and so the forest plays a vital role in the economy of the north east of England.

    Every winter/spring the Forestry Commission plants three and a half million trees to replace the ones which have been cut down. The water surface area of Kielder Water is about 1000 ha – this represents the same size of area which is replanted with trees each and every year.

    Kielder Forest is managed sustainably and is a valuable home and sanctuary for many species of flora and fauna, including deer, squirrels birds of prey, border mires with peat bog plant species.

    The forest thrives as a truly outstanding example of modern forests.

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    The lake which is a created reservoir, also feeds a water grid and uses surplus water to run a small hydroelectric generation system!

    When completed, the Kielder Water Scheme was one of the largest and most forward looking projects of its time. The first example in the UK of a regional water grid, it was designed to meet the demands of the north east well into the future.

    The scheme is a regional transfer system designed to allow water from Kielder Reservoir in the north west to be released into the Rivers Tyne, Derwent, Wear and Tees. This water is used to maintain minimum flow levels at times of low natural rainfall and allows additional flows to be released for both domestic and industrial abstraction.

    Electricity generation is also a by-product of the release of water into the river. Two hydro-electric generators installed at Kielder dam convert latent energy into electricity for the nation grid. A water release of 1,300 million litres a day can produce enough power to illuminate a town the size of Hexham (population 11,000). Kielder Water can provide up to 909 million litres a day, nearly as much as all the other sources in the region added together.

  5. I see this grossly misleading negative information is being circulated by denialists!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39053678

    Most wood energy schemes are a ‘disaster’ for climate change

    Using wood pellets to generate low-carbon electricity is a flawed policy that is speeding up not slowing down climate warming.

    That’s according to a new study which says wood is not carbon neutral

    It can be out of balance IF mismanaged.

    and emissions from pellets are higher than coal.

    This is misleading as while coal does produce a better heat output, the CO2 from coal is fossil carbon ADDED to the atmosphere, whereas the CO2 from burning wood is recycled CO2 over a shorter timescale.

    Subsidies for biomass should be immediately reviewed, the author says.

    The figures should certainly include all inputs and outputs, without politicians or propagandists manipulating them.

    Energy from trees has become a critical part of the renewable supply in many countries including the UK.

    While much of the discussion has focussed on wind and solar power, across Europe the biggest source of green energy is biomass.

    It supplies around 65% of renewable power – usually electricity generated from burning wood pellets.

    EU Governments, under pressure to meet tough carbon cutting targets, have been encouraging electricity producers to use more of this form of energy by providing substantial subsidies for biomass burning.

    However this new assessment from Chatham House suggests that this policy is deeply flawed when it comes to cutting CO2.

    Although it has been alleged that Chatham House reflects a pro-establishment view of the world[4] (due to donations from large corporations, governments and other organisations), Chatham House is nevertheless membership-based and anyone may join. It has a range of membership options for corporations, academic institutions, NGOs, and individuals including students and under 35s. In addition to corporate members consisting of government departments, large corporations, academic institutions, investment banks, NGOs, energy companies and other organisations, Chatham House currently has international leaders from business, diplomacy, science, politics and media as its individual members. (wikipedia.org/wiki/Chatham_House)

    According to the author, current regulations do not count the emissions from the burning of wood at all, assuming that they are balanced by the planting of new trees.

    Clearly wood burning schemes are counter productive IF the harvesting exceeds replanting and re growth – resulting in deforestation. There may be valid criticism of particular schemes where this is so, BUT it is absolutely misleading to claim that growing trees for fuel cannot balance absorption and emissions of CO2

    It is also wrong to omit hydro, tidal, nuclear, or waste reduction from the discussion!

    Duncan Brack, the independent environmental policy analyst who wrote the report, says this idea is not credible.

    “It doesn’t make sense,” said Mr Brack, who is also a former special adviser at the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change.

    That I believe is a political appointment!

    “The fact that forests have grown over the previous 20 or 100 years means they are storing large amounts of carbon, you can’t pretend it doesn’t make an impact on the atmosphere if you cut them down and burn them.”

    Which is true IF you incompetently use 100year old mature forest rather than quick growing plantations on a 20 or 40 year cycle, and IF you don’t balance harvesting with replanting.

    “You could fix them in wood products or in furniture or you could burn them, but the impact on the climate is very different.“

    No it isn’t! There is only a small difference of a few years in the time scale involved!
    Again this is misleading, as the bulk of furniture and wood products do not last for ever, but are dumped to rot, burned as rubbish, OR usefully burned to produce energy in a scheme for recycling of combustible waste at the end of their useful lives.

    Mr Brack says the assumption of carbon neutrality misses out on some crucial issues, including the fact that young trees planted as replacements absorb and store less carbon than the ones that have been burned.

    Again this is misleading, as in properly run schemes, while tiny newly planted trees do absorb little CO2, the calculations should be based on the (approx) 40 year harvesting cycle, NOT just the first years after replanting.

    This shortfall is short term, and overall where systems are managed on a national scale, the high absorption in later years, and low initial levels immediately after planting, average out over the large number of forest plantations involved in being harvested at different times!

    Burning wood pellets can release more carbon than fossil fuels like coal per unit of energy, over their full life cycle, the author argues.

    So what! – This is a marginal difference, and is irrelevant to the fossil fuel atmospheric additions V absorption and recycling of CO2 using biofuels!

    Often the products have to travel long distances increasing the emissions associated with their production and transport.

    This is a valid point, and transport generated CO2 should be taken into account, – unless biofuels or other green power sources are used for the transport.
    Ideally wood production should be as near to the power plants as possible.

    Within the EU, the UK is the biggest importer of wood pellets for heat and power, with some 7.5m tonnes shipped from the US and Canada in 2015-16. Most of these imports comes from the southeast US, where there are growing concerns about the trade.

    “This report confirm once again that cutting down trees and burning them as wood pellets in power plants is a disaster for climate policy, not a solution,” said David Carr, General Counsel of the Southern Environmental Law Centre in the US.

    “Forests in our region, the southeast US, are being clear cut to provide wood pellets for UK power plants. The process takes the carbon stored in the forest and puts it directly into the atmosphere via the smokestack at a time when carbon pollution reductions are sorely needed.”

    It seems that US commercialism, can even achieve environmental mismanagement in doing business in green energy – while denialists blame the green energy concept, rather than the commercial mismanagement of forests!

    The new study also highlights concerns over the use of BECCS – bio-energy with carbon capture and storage.

    Scientists, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have suggested that this system could be used to suck carbon from the atmosphere to keep the world from dangerous levels of warming.

    Capturing CO2 from the atmosphere in biomass, burning it and sequestering the CO2 underground, would REMOVE CO2 from the atmosphere if it can be done effectively and economically.

    “It’s really worrying,” said Duncan Brack.

    Yep! denial stooges do find real green answers to climate change worrying to carbon industry vested interests!

    “The number of scenarios that the IPCC reviewed that rely on BECCS for ambitious climate change targets,
    it’s crazy, I’m not the only person who’s said that.”

    I am sceptical about the extent to which carbon capture is viable, but an assertion that it is “crazy” at the end of a misleading article, does not constitute evidence!
    I am also not aware of the IPCC placing any “great reliance” carbon capture, rather than solar thermal, photovoltaic, wind, tidal, wave, geothermal, heat pumps, better insulation, negawatts, nuclear, hydroelectric, more efficient appliances, etc!

    THIS IS A REPLACEMENT POST FOR THE EARLIER ONE WHERE THE FORMATTING WAS SCRAMBLED.

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