Speaking as an amateur astronomer, there are plenty of good reasons to study the planet Earth. To begin with, it’s the only planet with life that we know of. It’s not just a model for life, it’s the model for life. The more we know about Earth, the more we can learn about the thousands of exoplanets that we discover. This includes the Earth’s climate, and the things that drive it: like human-made carbon dioxide.
Ted Cruz, however, doesn’t think this is necessary. At a hearing on NASA’s 2016 federate budget on Thursday, Cruz said that space exploration is “what inspires little boys and little girls across this country” and that “I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”
How, exactly, are we supposed to know what to expect from potentially inhabitable planets if we don’t study the environment of the only model we have?
Oh, right. Cruz doesn’t care. He’s bought and paid for by the Koch Bros. and American Petroleum.
Cruz is determined to make sure that NASA stays focused on vastness of space (beyond the atmosphere, not between his ears), and not focused on little things like climate change and anthropogenic global warming.
This is no coincidence; Cruz is an outspoken climate change denier, and all the mounting evidence of anthropogenic climate change makes him (more accurately, his campaign donors) nervous. So they want to shut down the truth wherever it appears. Many feared that Cruz would undercut NASA’s study of climate change, and it looks like he’s trying to do just that, criticizing the president’s $18.6 billion budget request for NASA in 2016, which would boost funding for studying climate change.
The administrator for the agency, Charles Bolden, disagreed with Cruz’s critique of NASA’s focus, telling Cruz that “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center [in Florida] goes underwater and we don’t know it,” and “It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place we have to live.”
Mars won’t be open for business for a long time, and given the gravity, people may never be able to set up permanent colonies. Venus is a possibility, but that’s going to be expensive. Cloud city won’t come cheap. It turns out there aren’t too many places in the solar system hospitable for humanity, so we have nowhere to run. This is it; we screw this planet up and we’ll have an answer to the Fermi Paradox. It’s a shame we won’t be able to do anything with it.
[source: New Republic]