Climate change research is about to take a big hit under legislation passed today by the US House of Representatives. The bill, known as the American COMPETES Act sets priorities for research programmes at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
While ostensibly intended to make US research more globally competitive, the bill would take some budgeting decisions out of the hands of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and instead allow Congress to set its research priorities. Scientists around America are concerned (and infuriated) that funding for research will now be decided by politicians, not what may be good for the advancement of scientific knowledge.
The COMPETES Act (often referred to by Democrats as the “America Can’t Compete” Act) will strip funding from climate change research – an area Republicans believe Obama has been over indulgent with funding, as well as social sciences and Earth sciences. These areas are set to lose up to 45% of current funding with the largest cut in the social science field.
Jeb Bush, a leading Republican candidate for president issued this worrying statement which reflects how the bill could be used under Republican influence; “I don’t think the science is clear what percentage (of climate change) is man-made and what percentage is natural. It’s convoluted…For the people to say the science is decided on, this is just really arrogant, to be honest with you”
The White House has already issued a threat to veto the House bill. On Monday it said that the bill “undermines key investments in science, technology, and innovation and imposes unnecessary and damaging requirements.”
Image: Serge Melki (c)