The decision to end a $10 million program for monitoring the Earth's carbon emissions has rubbed the scientific community the wrong way.
The Trump Administration has made the controversial decision to end the Carbon Monitoring System set up by NASA, which was responsible for measuring levels of carbon dioxide and methane emission worldwide using satellite and aircraft measurements. Ending the $10 million program will make it much more difficult for scientists to monitor carbon emissions around the world, which has already been a challenging prospect for climate scientists.
CO2 levels have been increasing worldwide and a recent report showed that the Earth’s atmosphere had reached an average of 410 parts per million last month, a disturbing milestone that shows how bad climate change has gotten. Researchers have stepped up their climate monitoring efforts, but the fear is that ending the CMS program will make it harder to continue this work.
The appointment of many officials who are skeptical of climate change has worried many in the scientific community who are concerned that their work may be derailed. President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Accord was one of many decisions that rankled the scientific community that claims that global warming is a growing threat to humanity and the planet itself.
“If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the [Paris climate] agreement,” Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Massachusetts, told Science according to a Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies blog post. She further called canceling the CMS “a grave mistake.”
The objectives of the NASA Carbon Monitoring System are as follows, as listed on NASA’s website:
Use the full range of NASA satellite observations, modeling/analysis capabilities, and commercial off-the-shelf technologies to establish the accuracy, quantitative uncertainties, and utility of products for supporting national and international policy, regulatory, and management activities.
Prototype the development of carbon Monitoring Reporting and Verification [MRV] systems which can provide transparent data products achieving levels of precision and accuracy required by current carbon trading protocols.
Harness unique capabilities of NASA centers and the NASA-funded investigator community, making use of competitive peer review wherever possible.
Rapidly initiate generation and distribution of products, both for evaluation and to inform near-term policy development and planning.
Engage with, and contribute to, related U.S. and international stakeholders and agencies.