Trump’s Attacks on the Earth Continue, Now to Destroy NASA Like EPA

by Duane Nichols on April 19, 2018

NASA conducts global studies of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

After failure to launch, Republican senator switches vote to save Trump’s NASA nominee

By Ted Barrett and Daniella Diaz, CNN Report, April 18, 2018

(CNN) — The Senate deadlocked 49-49 for about an hour Wednesday on a vote to break a filibuster of Rep. James Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, to be the next NASA administrator until Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, returned to the floor and switched his vote to yes.

The motion then passed on a partisan 50-48 vote. Flake, a vocal critic of the President’s, had been the only Republican to vote against Bridenstine.

Typically, when a vote like this is tied, Vice President Mike Pence would come to the chamber and break it. But he was in Mar-a-Lago with the president making that an impractical alternative.

Both Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, who is ill, and Illinois Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who just had a baby, were absent.

The party-line vote against Bridenstine reflects the steep opposition from Democrats about President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the space agency, who they believe is not a “space professional” in the words of Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat. One Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, had previously expressed concerns about Bridenstine but voted for him in the end.

Democrats also complained about his views on climate change.

“NASA is one of the few remaining areas that has largely avoided the bitter partisanship that has invaded far too many areas of government and our society today,” Nelson said in a floor speech.

When he was nominated, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Bridenstine a “strong, principled and effective leader” who will “work hard to advance our national space policy goals, expand human space exploration and secure America’s leadership in space.”

A final confirmation vote for Bridenstine is expected Thursday.


NASA-led Study Solves a Methane Puzzle

From an Article by Carol Rasmussen, NASA’s Earth Science News Team, January 3, 2018

A new NASA-led study has solved a puzzle involving the recent rise in atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas, with a new calculation of emissions from global fires. The new study resolves what looked like irreconcilable differences in explanations for the increase.

Methane emissions have been rising sharply since 2006. Different research teams have produced viable estimates for two known sources of the increase: emissions from the oil and gas industry, and microbial production in wet tropical environments like marshes and rice paddies. But when these estimates were added to estimates of other sources, the sum was considerably more than the observed increase. In fact, each new estimate was large enough to explain the whole increase by itself.

Scientist John Worden of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, and colleagues focused on fires because they’re also changing globally. The area burned each year decreased about 12 percent between the early 2000s and the more recent period of 2007 to 2014, according to a new study using observations by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer satellite instrument. The logical assumption would be that methane emissions from fires have decreased by about the same percentage. Using satellite measurements of methane and carbon monoxide, Worden’s team found the real decrease in methane emissions was almost twice as much as that assumption would suggest.

When the research team subtracted this large decrease from the sum of all emissions, the methane budget balanced correctly, with room for both fossil fuel and wetland increases. The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

>>> Atmospheric methane concentrations are given by their weight in teragrams.
>>> One teragram equals about 1.1 million U.S. tons — more than the weight of 200,000 elephants.
>>> Methane emissions are increasing by about 25 teragrams a year, with total emissions currently around 550 teragrams a year

Most methane molecules in the atmosphere don’t have identifying features that reveal their origin. Tracking down their sources is a detective job involving multiple lines of evidence: measurements of other gases, chemical analyses, isotopic signatures, observations of land use, and more. “A fun thing about this study was combining all this different evidence to piece this puzzle together,” Worden said.

Carbon isotopes in the methane molecules are one clue. Of the three methane sources examined in the new study, emissions from fires contain the largest percentage of heavy carbon isotopes, microbial emissions have the smallest, and fossil fuel emissions are in between.

Another clue is ethane, which (like methane) is a component of natural gas. An increase in atmospheric ethane indicates increasing fossil fuel sources. Fires emit carbon monoxide as well as methane, and measurements of that gas are a final clue.

Worden’s team used carbon monoxide and methane data from the Measurements of Pollutants in the Troposphere instrument on NASA’s Terra satellite and the Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer instrument on NASA’s Aura to quantify fire emissions of methane. The results show these emissions have been decreasing much more rapidly than expected.

Combining isotopic evidence from ground surface measurements with the newly calculated fire emissions, the team showed that about 17 teragrams per year of the increase is due to fossil fuels, another 12 is from wetlands or rice farming, while fires are decreasing by about 4 teragrams per year. The three numbers combine to 25 teragrams a year — the same as the observed increase.

Worden’s coauthors are at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado; and the Netherlands Institute for Space Research and University of Utrecht, both in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

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NYT Editorial April 25, 2018 at 8:02 am

Pruitt Has Disgraced His Office At EPA

“Any other president would have fired him,” the New York Times editorialized last week in reference to EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s brazen rollbacks of bedrock environmental protections and entanglement in an ever-growing list of scandals. “Mr. Pruitt’s self-aggrandizing and borderline thuggish behavior has disgraced his office and demoralized his employees.”

The following day, the Sierra Club joined a coalition of 40 civic, environmental, and labor groups in taking out full-page ads in the Times, The New York Post, and the Oklahoman calling for Pruitt’s resignation or dismissal.


Paul Voosen May 10, 2018 at 8:54 pm


NASA cancels carbon monitoring research program

Paul Voosen, AAAS, Science Magazine
Science 11 May 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6389, pp. 586-587
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6389.586


The administration of President Donald Trump has waged a broad attack on climate science conducted by NASA, including proposals to cut the budget of earth science research and kill off the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 mission.

Congress has fended these attacks off—with one exception. NASA has moved ahead with plans to end the Carbon Monitoring System, a $10-million-a-year research line that has helped stitch together observations of sources and sinks of methane and carbon dioxide into high-resolution models of the planet’s flows of carbon, the agency confirmed to Science.

The program, begun in 2010, has developed tools to improve estimates of carbon stocks in forests, especially, from Alaska to Indonesia. Ending it, researchers say, will complicate future efforts to monitor and verify national emission cuts stemming from the Paris climate deal.


Columbia Law School May 13, 2018 at 9:39 am

NASA Climate Research Program Cancelled

From the Columbia Law School, New York City

Date: May 2018, Explanation: Budget Cuts (? – DGN)

On May 9, 2018, Science reported that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had cancelled a $10 million-a-year research program aimed at improving carbon monitoring. The program, known as NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), was established in 2010. Since that time, it has provided funding for 65 projects, aimed at measuring carbon stocks and fluxes. According to the report in Science:

“Many of the 65 projects supported by the CMS since 2010 focused on understanding the carbon locked up in forests . . .

The CMS improved other carbon monitoring as well. It supported efforts by the city of Providence to combine multiple data sources into a picture of its greenhouse gas emissions, and identify ways to reduce them. It has tracked the dissolved carbon in the Mississippi River as it flows out into the ocean. And it has paid for researchers . . . to refine their satellite-based observations of methane.”

According to a spokesperson for NASA, existing grants issued through the CMS will be allowed to finish up, but no new research will be funded. This is reportedly due to “budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.”

Update: On May 11, 2018, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) wrote to the Senate Appropriations Committee expressing “deep concern” about the cancellation of NASA’s CMS and urging the committee to restore funding thereto in the FY2019 appropriations bill.


Jeffrey Mervis May 19, 2018 at 9:34 pm

That NASA climate science program Trump axed? House lawmakers just moved to restore it

By Jeffrey Mervis, Science News, May . 17, 2018

A U.S. House of Representatives spending panel voted today to restore a small NASA climate research program that President Donald Trump’s administration had quietly axed. (Click here to read our earlier coverage.)

The House appropriations panel that oversees NASA unanimously approved an amendment to a 2019 spending bill that orders the space agency to set aside $10 million within its earth science budget for a “climate monitoring system” that studies “biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change.”

That sounds almost identical to the work that NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS) was doing before the Trump administration targeted the program, which was getting about $10 million annually, for elimination this year. Critics of the move said it jeopardized numerous research projects and plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords.

Assuming the money is intended to restore the CMS, researchers familiar with the program were hailing the vote. “That’s great news!” earth scientist Pontus Olofsson of Boston University wrote in an email. “[W]e need a research program that investigates the use of all the data and tools we now have at our disposal for the how to study, understand and mitigate carbon emissions. NASA CMS is such a research program and it’s essential that the program will be allowed to continue its work.”

“Effective climate policies require the ability to accurately and independently measure greenhouse gas emissions,” Philip Duffy, president and executive director of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts wrote in an email. “I applaud today’s bipartisan action.”

The amendment is now part of a $62 billion spending bill covering the departments of commerce, justice, and several science agencies including NASA. It was offered by Representative John Culberson (R–TX), chairman of the spending panel that oversees NASA. Culberson cited the climate program’s importance as part of the agency’s efforts to track all sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Culberson also thanked Representative Matt Cartwright (D–PA) for urging him to restore funding for the monitoring system.

The bill now goes to the full House, and ultimately will need to be reconciled with a parallel bill in the Senate. It will likely be several months before Congress completes action on the 2019 budget.

Here is the text of the amendment:

Under NASA, science, after the paragraph titled Earth Science Decadal, insert the following: Climate Monitoring System: Within the funds provided for Earth Science. Not less than $10 million shall be for a Climate Monitoring program, including competitive grants to help develop the capabilities necessary for monitoring, reporting, and verification of biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long term climate change.



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