It's a pretty serious problem that most congressional Republicans choose to reject climate science, but that problem is compounded by the fact that GOP lawmakers also urge others to bury their heads in the sand,
Last year, for example, House Republicans tried to force
the Pentagon to stop working on the national security implications of the climate crisis. Among the House GOP lawmakers who voted for this were seven Republicans who won U.S. Senate races last year and now serve in the upper chamber.
But it's not just the Defense Department feeling pressure. National Journal reported
yesterday that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants NASA to shift its focus away from the environment, too.
Ted Cruz and Charles Bolden would probably agree that the core of the Earth is a mass of molten metal as hot as the sun. But as for the core of NASA's mission, the senator from Texas and the former astronaut split ways. [...] Cruz has been pushing the agency to adopt a "more space, less Earth" strategy. The Republican lawmaker argues that the Obama administration is wrongfully neglecting the country's space exploration operations -- like potential missions to Mars and beyond -- in favor of global-warming research. And he wants to know if Bolden, NASA's administrator, thinks so, too.
During a subcommittee hearing yesterday on NASA's budget, Cruz asked Bolden to explain the agency's core mission. Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place," Bolden replied.
Cruz, true to form, balked at the "Earth environment" part.
And why does this matter? Because after Americans elected a Republican Senate in the 2014 midterm elections, the GOP leadership put Ted Cruz in charge of NASA oversight
, giving him the chairmanship of the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee.
And as Rebecca Leber explained
, the senator's "enthusiasm for space exploration is really just a lack of enthusiasm for understanding how humans affect the world."
How important is NASA's focus on Earth science? Bloomberg's Eric Roston reported in February that NASA launched a new satellite to provide data on how much water is in the soil. Scientists had measurements on soil moisture before, but nothing like what a satellite 426 miles high can provide. It offers a complete snapshot of Earth's surface, helping experts predict floods, drought, weather, and agriculture. NASA plans a dozen launches of Earth satellites over the next eight years—which will be crucial to understanding the changing climate. It might not be as thrilling as space exploration, but this data will go a long way to helping people in the most vulnerable parts of the world.
It would appear the response from the climate denier responsible for NASA oversight is, "So?"
For more on this, our pals at "Now with Alex Wagner" and the NowThis team had a segment on this yesterday that's well worth your time.