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Science Tells Us The Planet Is Warming, And Donald Trump Refuses To Listen

Trump wants to end NASA's climate research. This is what it means for Australia.

25/11/2016 10:57 AM AEDT | Updated 25/11/2016 1:18 PM AEDT
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President-elect Donald Trump's made moves to cut climate research.

The decisions made by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will have effects far beyond the borders of the United States of America.

In Australia, scientists are reacting to news Trump's advisors have signaled a plan to scrap climate research done by NASA's Earth Sciences division.

NASA's satellite information leads the world in climate information, and understanding our atmosphere, oceans and land.

This is what it means for Australia.

CLIMATE CHANGE

ARC Centre of Excellence ARC Centre of Excellence Climate Extremes Research Fellow Andrew King

NASA gathers, compiles and distributes many vital datasets including the GISS global temperature data. These datasets form the bedrock of many climate studies and are essential to our work.

Increasing our understanding of how our climate's changing will benefit everyone. It is vital that we expand rather than shrink our capabilities.

Dennis K. Johnson
NASA is a beacon for climate researchers.

POST TRUTH

Former foreign policy advisor to the Australian Government Christian Downie

Faced with the grave threat of climate change, President-elect Trump has decided that he would prefer to know less about the issue, not more.

Sadly, this represents the latest in a long line of Republican attacks on science, which threaten to undermine the US' role as a global leader on science and technology.

Australian Conservation Foundation emeritus professor Ian Lowe

For ideologues on the far right of the political spectrum, the science of climate change is a real threat.

Their laissez-faire approach is untenable in the face of the evidence that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous climate change.

The easiest way to avoid embarrassing exposure is to shut down the science.

University of Queensland Climate Communication Research Fellow John Cook

It is a matter of concern that Bob Walker, the advisor on NASA to President-elect Trump, is basing his policy recommendations on clear misinformation about climate change. A number of studies have independently found that around 97 percent of climatologists agree that humans are causing global warming.

Let's not shoot the messenger.Helen McGregor

This research demonstrably falsifies Walker's claim that half of climatologists doubt human-caused global warming.

University of Wollongong School of Earth Sciences ARC Future Fellow Helen McGregor

The division's reports on global temperatures are solely based on robust data. What's being politicised here is not the science but the story that the science tells: that the planet is warming.

Let's not shoot the messenger.

OUR FUTURE

Monash University Sustainability Institute senior research fellow Paul Read

A billionnaire prophet for America's poor. Yet these are the people most likely to be hit hardest by climate change.Paul Read

The existing work by NASA collects incomparable levels of data, without which the science can't be done properly. So many bizarre ironies are operating here.

A billionnaire prophet for America's poor.

Yet these are the people most likely to be hit hardest by climate change.

David Mercado / Reuters
Climate change adversely affects the world's poor.

Protectionism at a time when globalisation needs to be managed for the betterment of all people.

The launch of a new space race when now more than ever we need to manage our own planet.

What's more, the idea of locating a planet with such finely tuned habitable zones as Earth is uncertain and, at best, would take 100 years to reach.

Some estimates suggest 1,000 years and even then travelling at the speed of light. Will Mr Trump be taking his electorate with him once he's finished with Earth?

You can't let Life on Earth deteriorate and then claim it as depreciation. Nature has its own business to take care of.

INNOVATION

Curtin University professor of Sustainability Peter Newman

Climate science has gone beyond the ability of any political leader to stop. The fossil fuel era is rapidly disappearing and 'King Canute Trump' cannot stop it as solar is now significantly cheaper and better than anything else.

Martin Barraud
Solar is unstoppable.

The business world and community action will now see an end to fossil fuels, governments cannot prevent this.

Trump's place in history will be likened to the last Roman emperor standing on top of the wall in Constantinople as the hordes of Muslim soldiers stormed his decaying city.

INFORMATION

Univeristy of Queensland Remote Sensing Research Centre director Stuart Phinn

Governments, industry and society all around the world are fundamentally dependent on the data and information NASA provides on the earth FOR FREE!

Shutting down the science will not stop climate change.Liz Hanna

Australia is no exception -- we are in an even worse situation if this happens.

Climate Change Adaptation Research Network for Human Health national convenor Liz Hanna

Shutting down the science will not stop climate change. All it will do is render people, communities and societies unprepared and at even greater risk.

University of Waitkato Geochemistry senior lecturer Adam Hartland

Did you know, for example, that NASA is the leading source of information on the state of the ozone hole, the extent of Antarctic sea ice, or the amount of plankton growing in the Southern Ocean? This sort of information is critical for New Zealand and Australia, more people need to know about it and appreciate what it would mean to do away with it.

BUSHFIRE RESEARCH

University of Tasmania Environmental Change Biology professor David Bowman

This is an extraordinarily alarming story for a fire scientist.

Image by Jack Scott
Much of Australia's bushfire data relies on NASA information.

NASA has been at the vanguard in supporting and developing fire science.

The satellite products provided by NASA have revolutionised our understanding of fire in the Earth system, in terms of impacts on land cover, smoke emission and the nexus of fire activity with climate and weather, and hence climate change.

To defund NASA Earth observation would be very damaging to understanding of fire-prone landscapes, particularly in the western USA and Australia.

Why a world leader in Earth observation should to this is beyond rational explanation.

AIR POLLUTION

University of Wollongong Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry Researcher Jenny Fisher

Over the past two decades, NASA's satellites and aircraft have given us a bird's eye view of how much pollution is being produced, how it travels through the air, where it ends up, and what happens when different types of pollution mix with one another.

They have shown us that smoke from bushfires in Africa and South America can affect the air here in Australia and New Zealand. They have helped us identify previously unreported emissions of toxic chemicals and pinpointed where air pollution is getting better — and where it is getting worse.

Without NASA's earth observation program, much of our atmosphere will go back to being invisible.

AUSTRALIA'S FUNDING HOLE

Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment team leader Mark Tjoelker

Given the disproportionate investment by the United States in supporting Earth science through world-class organisations such as NASA, deeps cuts in funding and job loss will have repercussions for earth system science far beyond the U.S.

These cuts if realised will further amplify the loss in research capacity in climate science here in Australia.

WATER

Former CSIRO Fellow John Church

In my own area of sea level change, NASA has been absolutely critical in designing and maintaining the altimeter satellites that are giving us such a clear image of rising sea levels and decaying ice sheets.

Jupiterimages
NASA monitors ice shelf melt.

The analysis and modelling of the climate system at NASA plays an important role supporting these observation systems and contributing to our understanding of the Earth's climate.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

Curtin University Institute for Biodiversity and Climate Director Grant Wardell-Johnson

Climate change research has now gathered sufficient momentum that this decision would merely provide China with the opportunity to be the global leader in this area and render the US less relevant. Of course the scientists are likely to be well-supported in China – but would have to move.

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