A new and contentious bill, which is the latest version of the America COMPETES Act, has recently passed the US Congress, with funding to be diverted from Earth science research research and more towards planetary sciences.
Known as COMPETES (While NASA’s overall funding has increased by approximately 3% to US$18.5 billion for the 2015-16 fiscal year), the Earth-science research unit has lost 5.7% of funding. Whilst this now sits at approximately US$1.683 billion, it falls nearly US$250 million short of the White House’s request, US$1.947 billion.
While I acknowledge space science research is also important and fascinating, especially with applications such as mobile phone and GPS technology, we are at a pivotal moment in our history with regards to environmental issues (particularly Climate Change). Most importantly for the majority, these decisions will immensely impact future generations, especially those from major global economies such as the US.
I believe additional funding for space exploration (let alone any important research) should not be funded at the expense of Earth sciences. High-profile privately-funded ventures in space science such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic’s space exploration project demonstrate the entrepreneurial desire to invest in space science*
If governments are elected by the majority of people, then their decisions should subsequently act in the best interests of the populous. I am certain that most that further investment in activities based here on Earth would have a greater impact for most people, more than those conducted in outer space.**
* While it would be an incredible adventure to explore space (even briefly), many would agree that it should be up to individual and private companies to invest in such projects.
** I do acknowledge that satellites – both the Moon and artificial ones – have played (and continue to play) a major role in our lives, such as the aforementioned examples related to space science.
Image source: GraphicStock
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not represent those of The Green Optimistic.