As president, Donald Trump plans to wind down funding to NASA’s earth science division, which leads federal climate change research that has been heralded scientific community, a Trump advisor told the Guardian in a report published Wednesday.
The advisor, Bob Walker, said that the research “has been heavily politicized” and “Mr. Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science.” He said NASA funding will instead shift to deep space exploration, as Trump campaigned on exploring the entirety of the solar system by the end of the century, according to the Guardian.
“We see [NASA] in an exploration role, in deep space research,” Walker told the Guardian. “Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.”
The news that the funding would be hitting the chopping block prompted dire concern from other scientific researchers, who say NASA’s earth science research brings important innovations to the larger climatologist community, according to the Guardian report. Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, called the move to gut the funding “a major setback if not devastating.”
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, said that without NASA’s involvement in the field, “not only the US but the entire world would be taking a hard hit when it comes to understanding the behavior of our climate and the threats posed by human-caused climate change.”
“It would be a blatantly political move, and would indicate the president-elect’s willingness to pander to the very same lobbyists and corporate interest groups he derided throughout the campaign,” Mann told the Guardian.
In the past, Trump has claimed that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese (a conspiracy theory China recently and publicly shot down). In an interview with the New York Times Tuesday, Trump acknowledged that there may be some “connectivity” between human activity and climate change.