Guest essay by Eric Worrall
US and Overseas scientists have accused the Trump Administration of criminal obstruction of climate research, because the US government has not immediately stepped in to foot the bill for a replacement satellite.
Donald Trump accused of obstructing satellite research into climate change
Republican-controlled Congress ordered destruction of vital sea-ice probe
Robin McKie, Observer science editor
Sunday 5 November 2017 19.00 AEDT
President Trump has been accused of deliberately obstructing research on global warming after it emerged that a critically important technique for investigating sea-ice cover at the poles faces being blocked.
The row has erupted after a key polar satellite broke down a few days ago, leaving the US with only three ageing ones, each operating long past their shelf lives, to measure the Arctic’s dwindling ice cap. Scientists say there is no chance a new one can now be launched until 2023 or later. None of the current satellites will still be in operation then.
The crisis has been worsened because the US Congress this year insisted that a backup sea-ice probe had to be dismantled because it did not want to provide funds to keep it in storage. Congress is currently under the control of Republicans, who are antagonistic to climate science and the study of global warming.
“This is like throwing away the medical records of a sick patient,” said David Gallaher of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. “Our world is ailing and we have apparently decided to undermine, quite deliberately, the effectiveness of the records on which its recovery might be based. It is criminal.”
Such losses have serious consequences, say researchers. “Sea-ice data provided by satellites is essential for initiating climate models and validating them,” said Andrew Fleming of the British Antarctic Survey. “We will be very much the poorer without that information.”
US taxpayers have been footing the bill for the Defence Meteorological Satellite Programme since 1973. A thank you would have been nice.