Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, headed by Texas Republican Lamar Smith, approved a bill that would slash at least three hundred million dollars from NASA’s earth-science budget, says the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Colbert. “Earth science, of course, includes climate science,” Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat who is also on the committee, noted. (Smith said that the White House’s NASA budget request favored the earth sciences “at the expense of the other science divisions and human and robotic space exploration.”)
This is just the Republican’s latest effort to cut more funding from those government agencies that provide climate data to help us predict all kinds of natural disasters, such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Have they forgotten Hurricanes Sandy, or Katrina, or the record number of tornadoes that have hit the Midwest and South? House Republicans are now passing bills that are dangerous to everyone’s health, in a word.
It is becoming more obvious why the Republican Party have been so anti-science; in fact anti-all scientific research. It enables them to deny any reality that will decrease the profits of their supporters, such as the Koch Brothers with a net worth of $100 billion, no matter the danger to the environment. They have been denying climate change of any kind in order not to have to put CO2 scrubbers on their power plants that emit so much heat.
Representative Johnson tried to get the cuts eliminated from the bill, but her proposed amendment was rejected. Defunding NASA’s earth-science program takes willed ignorance one giant leap further, says Colbert. It means that not only will climate studies be ignored; but weather data won’t be collected that helps to predict the increasing number of natural disasters.
It takes Republicans’ efforts to dumb down their electorate to a whole new level. Their intentions were first apparent when Wisconsin’s Tea Party Governor Scott Walker recently proposed turning the University of Wisconsin into a trade school, after the Republican-led legislature banned collective bargaining of school teachers, in an effort to dumb down their public educational system.
His latest salvo was directed at the University of Wisconsin. He proposed not only to cut its budget, but proposed downsizing its mission from that of higher education to supply more workers, whoever they might be. Walker’s new budget proposal would slash $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years. That’s a 13 percent reduction in state funding.
The vote on the NASA bill came just a week after the same House committee approved major funding cuts to the National Science Foundation’s geosciences program, as well as cuts to Department of Energy programs that support research into new energy sources. As Michael Hiltzik, a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, noted, the committee is “living down to our worst expectations.”
This willful ignorance of anything scientific endangers much more than our health and worsening environment. It endangers all scientific research—solely in order to protect the profits of their wealthiest supporters.
The practical implications of the proposed cuts are certainly disturbing. (It’s going to be hard for D.O.E. to find new energy sources if it isn’t even looking for them.) But perhaps even more distressing is the mindset that led to them. The “I’m not a scientist” line that all Republican candidates to date have espoused is basically a declaration of willed ignorance, said Colbert.
It highlights the dangers that such an agenda presents not only to scientific research, but to the health and well being of all Americans.
Harlan Green © 2015
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