12 February 2018
Washington, D.C.—The following statement is attributable to American Geophysical Union (AGU) Executive Director/CEO Chris McEntee:
President Trump’s proposed budget ignores the valuable role science agencies play in nearly every facet of American life. The proposal provides a steep increase in military spending and infrastructure but saddles federal scientific agencies with extremely damaging cuts. What the President’s budget fails to recognize is that these agencies provide much of the technical expertise needed to help realize his Administration’s policy priorities.
When we underfund or cut funding to science agencies and their programs, the implications reach far beyond the agencies themselves and the scientific enterprise. Data and applied research from science agencies like NASA and NOAA are critical to U.S. military operations and defense-related systems. Scientific research helps to create infrastructure that is sustainable and effective, and with the release of such a large infrastructure plan that invests trillions in America’s roads and bridges, we need a budget proposal that will ultimately protect that infrastructure from long-term impacts like climate change. We’re discouraged to see yet another White House proposal that indicates either the Administration’s continued lack of understanding about the crucial benefits scientific research provides to Americans or worse, their persistent disregard of the value of science to society.
We recognize that Congress ultimately sets the budget through the appropriations process and we call on members of Congress to set funding levels for science agencies that reflect their important research and programs, and provide funding that will move American innovation forward.
My take: I’m a fan of science, no, let me qualify that. I’m a fan of QUALITY science. Science done correctly, without an agenda, without politics, and without the need to drive the next funding cycle.
A lot of this reduction is driven by Trump (and many others) getting fed up with science trying to blame just about everything on the universal boogeyman, climate change.
Just like the stock market recently, I see this as a correction for government funded science that has become bloated. We’ve traded quantity for quality. And. there’s a lot of redundancy.
A little bird told me that NASA GISS / GISTEMP might be on the chopping block since it’s clearly redundant, and alarmist, just recycling NOAA data by applying their own special sauce. I might have had something to do with that. We can all live happily and productively without NASA GISTEMP, but NOAA as an agency actually does provide useful things in Americans daily lives; such as our daily weather forecasts, weather warnings, etc. NASA GISTEMP, not so much.
President Eisenhower was prescient in this issue of science and government funding:
“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.
“In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.
“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
“Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.
“It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society. — President Dwight D. Eisenhower, January 17, 1961 [Boldface added.]