The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) could see 17 percent of its funding slashed in fiscal year 2018.
The NOAA oversees crucial ocean and atmospheric research, without which it would be much more difficult to develop future climate change models and weather forecasts.
Cutting the NOAA budget would leave coastal communities less equipped to guard against sea level rise and storm surges. Sea levels are expected to rise one to four feet by the end of the century.
Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric science program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society, said:
“Any weakening of our technological, scientific, and human capabilities related to weather and climate places American lives and property at risk.”
It could also spell an economic downturn for industries that rely on NOAA data. Meteorologists in the energy industry, insurance industry, and – of course – the weather reporting industry would have to use more expensive data services to get the information they need, thereby increasing their costs. After the proposed budget cuts were reported, Bryan Wood, an insurance industry meteorologist, tweeted:
I simply could not do my job without NOAA data. It is invaluable to the insurance industry for proper risk management.
— Bryan Wood (@bryanwx) March 4, 2017
Conrad Lautenbacher, a retired vice admiral and the head administrator at NOAA under President George W. Bush, said:
“I think the cuts are ill timed given the needs of society, economy and the military.”
David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University and NOAA’s chief operating officer during the Obama administration, said:
“These cuts will impact good private-sector jobs in the U.S. The loss of capability will make America weaker both in space and on the sea — a strange place to be for an administration that campaigned to ‘make America great again.'”
A recent EPA study found that the U.S. already stands to lose some $180 billion by 2100 due to climate-related drought, water shortages, and food shortages. Without NOAA research, predicting and mitigating those losses will be much harder.
The cuts would be included as part of a package to slash science and other discretionary spending while further expanding American military budget, which is already the largest in the world. The EPA, for instance, is slated to lose about 25 percent of its funding overall. And other agencies – including the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and NASA – are also under threat.
Featured image via YouTube video.