Have you heard about the NASA satellite called TIROS-1? Over 50 years ago it provided the first pictures of the whole Earth. For the first time we knew the weather all over the globe. We knew when and where the hurricanes formed, how fast they moved and where they would land.
A new era began: Using the observations from space to understand what’s happening on Earth.
Three decades later the U.S.-French mission TOPEX-Poseidon measured how El Nino/La Nina cycles work. Thanks to satellites that followed we know now in advance when winter seasons will be rainy or dry or when and where the “atmospheric rivers” from the tropics, like the one that we experienced this March, will hit California.
The NASA satellite Aqua observes and measures dramatic shrinking of the Arctic ice sheet. The U.S.-German satellite GRACE measured that so much ice on Greenland melted away that its soil bounced up as there is less weight pressing on it. It also estimated the depletion of groundwater in California. NASA satellite OCO-2 still monitors the concentration and distribution of carbon-dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere.
These missions are great achievements and pride of American science and technology. They expand our knowledge and in a tangible way contribute to the quality of our existence and our economy.
However, Donald Trump decided otherwise. Study of Earth from space is now considered to be part of some left-wing, liberal conspiracy. Trump’s NASA budget has dramatic cuts to its Earth observation program.
It sounds as nonsense because it is. It is a transparent move to prevent NASA from collecting data that, among other things, continues to show measurable, progressive changes in Earth’s climate due to humans burning coal and oil. As if not looking at the incoming truck makes it go away.
It is even more disturbing that this “justification” provided by the White House shows both incompetence in governing and the worst kind of politics. It is an example of how Trump’s adviser Stephen Miller defined the new administration: “This is about ideology.”
He wasn’t joking and it’s a statement worth thinking about. Donald Trump advertised his business skills as his main qualification for presidency but business decisions are supposed to be based on what is real and practical, not on ideology.
History shows us that governing by ideology has one clear benefit: It is an effective way to excite and control the public. That’s it. The ideology muddles and diverts public discussion and political process. The plain truth loses to ideological dogma. The rational arguments are countered not with rational arguments but with conspiracy theories. The goal is to keep both supporters and opponents constantly busy, fighting each other over inflammatory topics instead of watching what is really happening and who is benefiting financially.
This is what Donald Trump seems to be doing and is not a way to govern any democracy. It is, however, a time-honored way to build and cover up a rigged system. The GOP majority in Congress, including our own representative, is apparently enabling that process without any protest.
El Dorado Hills