The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operates satellites that collect weather data. It also funds research on sustainable fisheries and how to protect the jobs of 13.5 million people employed in coastal tourism from natural and technological hazards.
But the Donald Trump administration is proposing deep cuts to the NOAA’s budget.
Why cut a program that is collecting weather data and funding research that protects jobs? Many say it’s because the NOAA also generates data that enables global warming research.
An obvious question is whether cutting $650 million in satellite data collection and science research will protect or harm your job and our economy.
Cutting climate science when Americans are focused on global warming
As of 2016, 70 percent of Americans agreed global warming is happening, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
Global warming is also no longer a red state versus blue state issue.
Yale’s interactive map identifies global warming opinions by individual counties. I picked Kentucky to examine. This state is identified as coal country. Its federal senators just voted for legislation to repeal EPA rules that protect streams from mine waste dumping. I was stunned by what I found: In Kentucky county after Kentucky county, at least half of residents believe global warming is real, according to Yale’s data.
Pick any state, and you will see similar results. In almost every county in America, at least 50 percent of us believe global warming is real.
But Americans are still split over what is causing global warming. Yale found that 55 percent of us believe global warming is caused by human activities. A significant 30 percent of us think global warming is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment.
What could be causing this divide?
Yale found that only 1 out of 7 Americans understand that over 90 percent of climate scientists conclude that climate change is a result of human activity. This is a huge issue since 71 percent of us say we trust climate change scientists about global warming.
This maybe the key reason why the Trump administration is proposing to slash NOAA’s funding. Doing so would cut Americans off from the very scientific research that we claim to find most trustworthy and informative.
To some critics it appears the Trump administration is so focused on denying global warming that they are willing to violate their campaign job focus: Slashing NOAA’s budget will also cut the agency’s research on how to protect jobs from environmental impacts.
What cutting NOAA’s funding does achieve is alignment with the 75 percent of Trump voters who believe climate change is either not real or not caused by human activities, according to data from the Pew Research Center.
Global warming is today’s challenge
The most telling finding in the Yale study is how Americans respond to global warming. The research found that the more people think global warming can hurt them, the more likely they are to think global warming is real and created by human activity.
The issue of near-term impacts from global warming is what really divides Americans. Yale found that only 14 percent of us believe global warming will cause a great deal of personal harm. But almost all of us (over 70 percent) agree that global warming will create moderate harm, or a great deal of harm, to plants, animals and future generations. The challenge in gaining a consensus for global warming actions is that almost all of us see global warming as “tomorrow’s problem.”
This might be the ultimate motivate behind the Trump administration’s decision to slash NOAA’s satellite data and research. This data and research is documenting how global warming is today’s challenge that is growing more severe.
How cutting climate science budgets will hurt you
Cutting Americans off from NOAA’s research will not stop global warming. It will only make us less informed.
When global warming drives food prices higher due to impacts on farming and fishing, or when it drives our electricity bills through the roof to pay for increased air conditioning, it will come as surprise. And it may be a surprise because the Trump administration did not want you to learn the facts.
Image credit: Flickr/NOAA Photo Library