President-elect Donald Trump plans to yank funding from climate change research conducted by NASA soon after he enters office, in what one senior adviser describes as an attempt to cut down on "politicized science."
In an interview with the Guardian published Wednesday, senior Trump campaign adviser Bob Walker said the president-elect favors exploration of deep space, and has vowed to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. "Politically correct environmental monitoring," Walker said, has no place at NASA.
"We see NASA in an exploration role, in deep space research," Walker told the Guardian. "Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission."
On Tuesday, Trump reignited hope among those anxious about the role his administration will play in shaping future climate policies when he refused to double down on campaign promises to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement in an interview with the New York Times.
"I'm looking at it very closely. ... I have an open mind to it," Trump told the paper, adding that clean air and "crystal clear water" were of the utmost importance to him.
But in his interview with the Guardian, Walker painted a picture that was much more in line with the ideological inclinations of the Trump of old, who famously tweeted that climate change was "a hoax" devised by the Chinese and who once proclaimed to a crowd of drought-stricken Californians that "there is no drought" during his presidential campaign.
Explaining that he imagined it would be "difficult to stop all ongoing Nasa programs," Walker emphasized that future programs were all but certain to be slashed from the federal budget.
"I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicized, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing," Walker said. "Mr Trump's decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicized science."
More disturbingly, Walker made the confident claim that skepticism about the role of human activity in global warming "is a view shared by half the climatologists in the world. We need good science to tell us what the reality is and science could do that if politicians didn't interfere with it."
Independent studies have estimated that 97% of climate scientists believe in human-caused climate change, according to ThinkProgress.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, told the Guardian that the entire world would suffer without NASA's unique scientific contributions to the study of human-caused climate change.
"It would be a blatantly political move, and would indicate the president-elect's willingness to pander to the very same lobbyists and corporate interest groups he derided throughout the campaign," Mann said.
While Trump continues to downplay the global threat posed by climate change, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has spoken out about the need for immediate action.
During a talk hosted by the China General Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, the Republican businessman vowed that "no matter what regulations the next administration adopts or rescinds, no matter what laws the next Congress may pass, we will meet the pledges that the U.S. made in Paris."
"Washington will not have the last word on the fate of the Paris Agreement in the U.S. — mayors will, together with business leaders and citizens," Bloomberg wrote.