Monday, November 27, 2006

Whom the government would destroy they first defund....

In the comments on the disappearing mission of NASA to protect the earth, llewelly refers to a new article by James Hansen which concludes:

But may it be that this is all a bad dream? I will stand accused of being as wistful as the boy who cried out, "Joe, say it ain't so!" to the fallen Shoeless Joe Jackson of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, yet I maintain the hope that NASA's dismissal of "home planet" is not a case of either shooting the messenger or a too-small growth of the total NASA budget, but simply an error of transcription. Those who have labored in the humid, murky environs of Washington are aware of the unappetizing forms of life that abound there. Perhaps the NASA playbook was left open late one day, and by chance the line "to understand and protect our home planet" was erased by the slimy belly of a slug crawling in the night. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, let us pray that this is the true explanation for the devious loss, and that our home planet's rightful place in NASA's mission will be restored.
Bad as this all is, the bunnies at Rabett Labs had their whiskers all in a twitter about something else in this broadside:
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 (practically speaking, you cannot fire civil servants; buildings at large facilities such as Goddard Space Flight Center will not be bulldozed to the ground; and the grass at the centers must continue to be cut). But the budget cuts wipe off the books most planned new satellite missions (some may be kept on the books, but only with a date so far in the future that no money needs to be spent now), and support for contractors, young scientists, and students disappears, with dire implications for future capabilities
Hansen is quite the optimist. Last I heard they are going to close the library at Goddard and the grass looks pretty long and inviting. Me and my pals are going over for a snack tomorrow.

Oh yeah, Hansen rips Michaels some new ones.

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