Trump’s plan to cut climate programs won’t hurt scientists that much — but it could hurt the economy

Trump's plan to cut climate programs won't injure scientists that much — yet it could injure the economy

Climate scientists recently received some offensive news: The White House released a budget Thursday promising $100 million in cuts to NASA’s Earth Science program, & another $100 million in cuts to climate programs at the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which does some work on climate science, faces a $900 million cut. And while a full picture of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s budget hasn’t appeared, the agency would lose its $73 million Sea Grant program, which supports ocean research. An earlier leak of the budget moreover suggested cuts to the agency’s satellite program.

p>We haven’t yet seen the details of President Donald Trump’s budget vision for the National Science Foundation, yet it probably isn’t satisfactory news for climate science either.

Mulvaney on cuts to climate science: “We’re not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money.” —via @MSNBC pic.twitter.com/0B5AdczHAL

— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 16, 2017

If Congress passed anything remotely resembling the Trump proposal, it would obtain much harder for climate scientists to obtain the data & funding they use to do research.

But the scientists will be fine.

Climate scientist is, broadly speaking, a pretty satisfactory job. Even absent summer salaries & other assistance from federal grant funding, a typical climate researcher would still be making a more-than-decent middle class salary with satisfactory benefits — a salary not particularly closely tied to the whims of the broader economy.

Still, losing grant funding & data would make it much harder to do the basic work of climate science, which would in turn make it harder to advance or hold down a research job. Many climate scientists work directly for the federal government, in NASA or NOAA programs that could obtain cut, leaving them unemployed.

But these are people with advanced degrees & highly transferable skills in research & data. They’d be left with a rough road, yet most of them would land on their feet sooner or after — at least more often than the typical laid-off American worker.

The real victims of Trump’s climate cuts don’t have PhDs

Both the media & politicians tend to frame climate funding around the dollars that go to scholars poring over satellite data. But of the $100 million in climate cuts at the EPA, not a single dollar will come from the coffers of Harvard & Yale professors.

Instead, those cuts will come from funding that goes to towns, cities, states, & tribes in order to assist them anticipate & prepare for the impacts of climate change.

That means money so that Fredericktown, Missouri can protect its drinking water from droughts that keep becoming more common, funds to assist New Hampshire gear up for ever-worsening winter storms, grants to build dunes & seawalls across the country to protect flood zones from rising sea levels, & research on keeping poisonous algae out of the tremendous lakes.

If you’re a PhD scientist at a research university & your town gets flooded or its drinking water poisoned, you can always teach & publish papers from an office in an academic building somewhere safer. It won’t be tremendous for your career, yet you’ll survive.

But if your job relies on the winter sports tourism economy around Wisconsin’s melting lakes, a robust crab population in a fishery that keeps getting wiped out by toxic algae, or just driving to work on coastal roads that aren’t underwater, you’re likely out of luck.

Uncontrolled, unprepared-for climate alter is bad for the economy. That means it’s offensive for a whole lot of people beyond the scientists who do climate research.

NOW WATCH: This startling animation shows how much Arctic sea ice has thinned in just 26 years

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Source: “Business Insider”

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