Bush's attack on the scientists who study our planet heated up last year in a way that I completely missed. In article in the December issue of World Watch, renowned climate scientist James Hansen wrote about the stealth budget cuts dictated by the administration:
... Many people are aware that something bad happened to the NASA Earth Science budget this year, yet the severity of the cuts and their long-term implications are not universally recognized. In part this is because of a stealth budgeting maneuver.
When the administration announced its planned fiscal 2007 budget, NASA science was listed as having typical changes of 1 percent or so. However, Earth Science research actually had a staggering reduction of about 20 percent from the 2006 budget. How could that be accomplished? Simple enough: reduce the 2006 research budget retroactively by 20 percent! One-third of the way into fiscal year 2006, NASA Earth Science was told to go figure out how to live with a 20-percent loss of the current year's funds.
The Earth Science budget is almost a going-out-of-business budget. From the taxpayers' point of view it makes no sense. An 80-percent budget must be used mainly to support infrastructure ... . But the budget cuts wipe off the books most planned new satellite missions ..., and support for contractors, young scientists, and students disappears, with dire implications for future capabilities.
Bizarrely, this is happening just when NASA data are yielding spectacular and startling results. [Hansen then describes dramatic evidence of Arctic ice melt.]
One way to avoid bad news: stop the measurements!
As you may recall, Hansen was the scientist who helped reveal early last year how NASA administrators were trying to keep their scientists from talking openly to the media.
That didn't work out so well once the scheme became public, but now the Bushies have stepped up the fight and appear to be out to eliminate these scientists' work. We all will pay the price if they succeed.