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Congress to NASA: Study Space! (Not Climate. That’s Not Space.)

The budget battle has come to NASA, where a massive amount of money is being spent on something that has nothing to do with NASA's mission.

by
Art Horn

Bio

February 18, 2011 - 10:14 am

Members of Congress are asking something novel of NASA: to actually study space, not global warming. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sandy Adams (R-FL), Rob Bishop (R-UT) and others have sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) asking for NASA to launch their efforts in a new direction — the old one.

For many years, NASA has been spending vast sums of money to study global warming, despite the efforts already undertaken at other federal agencies where such research is more appropriate. The letter asks that NASA refocus on what it was created to do, which is to maintain and develop our space program.

The amount of money being spent to study global warming, as a percentage of NASA’s budget, is startling — especially when one considers this is not part of NASA’s original mission. In budget year 2010, NASA spent 7.5% of its funding — over $1B — to study global warming. On top of that — the vast majority of federal stimulus money given to NASA in 2010 was spent on studying global warming.

As a whole, the U.S. federal government has spent $8.7 billion dollars on global warming studies — just in the past year! Many of the sixteen separate agencies doing this work were performing redundant research. In a time of federal spending cuts that are sure to come, much of this redundancy certainly can and must be eliminated, saving taxpayers billions. Certainly NASA should be one of the first to see funding drastically cut, or eliminated entirely, in this area.

The principal arm of global warming research for NASA is the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). That’s “Space” Studies, not climate. The Institute is located in New York City on the campus of Columbia University. The homepage of GISS states:

Research at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) emphasizes a broad study of global change.

No mention of anything to do with space exploration. How odd. The overview continues:

… which is an interdisciplinary initiative addressing natural and man-made changes in our environment that occur on various time scales — from one-time forcings such as volcanic explosions, to seasonal and annual effects such as El Niño, and on up to the millennia of ice ages — and that affect the habitability of our planet.

Under the section titled “More Research News & Features,” there are seven different news items, all dealing with global warming. Nothing about space or manned space missions or anything at all up there. It’s as if GISS has launched itself into an entirely different orbit, unrelated to its founding documents. The Goddard Institute for Climate Studies would be a much more accurate representation, though I think Dr. Robert Goddard would be surprised to learn how much influence he must have had in the field of climate research, rather than in developing liquid fueled rockets.

The shift of the GISS research effort is mysterious, but so is the trend of their long-term temperature records. In the late 1990s, GISS published a graph of the United States yearly average temperature from 1880 to 1998. From the graph it is clear that 1934 is nearly 1 degree Fahrenheit warmer than 1998, a very substantial amount. In fact, the graph ranked the four warmest years in order as: 1934, 1921, 1931, and 1998. But by 2009, an updated version of the graph shows some dramatic and remarkable changes: 1934, 1921, and 1931 are all now cooler than 1998!

Somehow in the past decade, these three years that concluded seven or eight decades ago managed to cool themselves, and 1998 found a way to warm itself, despite this all requiring time travel and maybe a volcano and a second sun.

How could “climate change” of this nature and magnitude take place when the readings were already determined? Apparently GISS found a way to “adjust” the temperatures of the past and present, by “changing” them. The obvious result of the change is twofold. The warmest decade of the last 130 years in the United States, the 1930s, has been “cooled” to make the current time period appear warmer. Another result of the change is that the years after 1970 have been adjusted warmer, to make the slope of temperature rise since then appear steeper and more significant.

Not only is GISS studying global warming, they are actually creating it! I guess all those billions of dollars were enough to buy a few degrees here and there.

This interesting interpretation of temperature by GISS is not limited to the United States data. The differences between the GISS global average temperature and the University of Alabama, Huntsville (UAH) satellite-derived average global temperature is revealing. Since 1998, the difference in the global temperature anomaly between GISS and UAH has increased to .72 degrees Fahrenheit, with GISS being the warmer. This difference is 70% of all the global warming anomaly since 1850! Some of this difference is due to the fact that GISS uses the period from 1951 to 1980 as its base period to calculate its anomalies. The period from 1945 to 1976 was a period of global cooling. By using this colder period as its base for calculating anomalies GISS gets larger warm temperature anomalies in its current evaluation of global temperature. The UAH uses the last 30 years as its base period.

As a consequence of these differences we get conflicting trends. The UAH data shows a decline of average global temperature of .34 degrees Fahrenheit during January 2011. On the other hand GISS found an increase of .27 degrees Fahrenheit during the same month. From March of 2010 to January 2011, UAH data shows a substantial global temperature drop of 1.01 degrees Fahrenheit. GISS was showing a downward trend in global temperature of 1.03 degrees Fahrenheit from March 2010 to December 2010, but then reversed the trend in January. It was almost as if GISS had enough of this temperature drop, and called a halt to it.

It appears that the climate in Washington is changing. We may see a significant drop in funding and a refocusing of NASA’s mission back to where it belongs, in space. The Goddard Institute for Data Adjustment may find that climate change does indeed have significant implications for the future, but those changes could be in a direction that GISS did not anticipate, and this time their attempts to change that direction may be out of their control.

Art Horn spent 25 years working in television as a meteorologist. He now is an independent meteorologist and speaker who lives in Connecticut. He can be contacted at skychaserman@cox.net.
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