Possible Research Cutbacks Fuel Concern on Both Sides of Climate Change Debate in Texas

This week has been a dizzying one for people working to understand and combat global warming.

By Mose BucheleJanuary 27, 2017 9:30 am| , , ,

From KUT

Bill Fisher has taught earth sciences at UT, Austin for 57 years, so he’s seen a lot of shifts in federal research funding depending on who’s in the oval office.

“Everyone that’s interested in doing research would like to have it consistent,” he says. “But that’s probably unrealistic. Priorities come and go, there are some things that are not funded much now because it’s not as critical as it was 40 years ago.”

But, when it comes to climate change, Fisher, who is not a climatologist, thinks it makes sense to keep up research.

Nonetheless, given indications from the Trump administration, many expect cuts to climate research funding.

At a meeting of the American Metrological Association this week, a NASA official had to assure people that his agency hadn’t been contacted by the administration about cuts yet.

Texas State Climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon was at that conference. He says their concern is that even a temporary suspension of funding for NASA could have long-term impacts.

 “The thing you absolutely need for climate change research is continuity of observation,” he says. “If you suddenly break off that endeavor, not only does it mean you’re missing future observations but the observations you’ve already collected suddenly become less valuable. It would be a terrible loss.”Beyond cuts to research, people are also worried about the availability of data.

The news that EPA climate web pages may be removed provoked a lot of outcries. But many scientists use more obscure government websites that fewer people even know about.

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