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Brief # 31—-Environmental Policy


Houston, NASA appears to be having a problem. In 2012, now-president, Donald Trump famously tweeted that, the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese” and alleged that the phenomenon of climate change was a conspiracy to undermine American manufacturing. It is unclear whether or not President Trump still stands by this particular accusation but his administration did recently decide to try to dismantle a climate change program within NASA. The program, formally known as the “Carbon Monitoring System” has been tasked with scientifically monitoring the earth’s temperature and recently found that 2017 was the second-hottest year on record. The program’s annual budget of $10 million is relatively small compared to the many other multibillion dollar projects going on inside of NASA, so it would appear that maintaining costs are not the problem. Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center–a climate change think tank–argued that the program is a target of the Trump administration due to its affiliation with the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the information it has reported about greenhouse gases. Duffy added that the administration’s move was a “blow to climate science.” The decision came just a day after NASA announced that “humans are causing massive changes in location of water around the world”.


Despite the Trump Administration’s decision to axe the Carbon Monitoring system, a U.S. House of Representatives panel moved to restore something like it in a bipartisan vote. The House appropriations panel unanimously approved to fund and create a “climate monitoring system,” a NASA program with an annual budget of $10 million per year. And the program’s objective would be essentially identical to that of the Carbon Monitoring system. More still, former Republican congressman Jim Bridenstine, who is now a NASA administrator recently announced that he accepts mainstream climate science, a subject which he had denied the veracity of throughout his tenure in congress. He is one of the Trump administration’s few appointees to publicly acknowledge the legitimacy of climate science. In the midst of this however, a former NASA employee has spoken out about the changing culture of “fear and anxiety” at NASA, alleging that concerns about the survival of the institution are affecting their public communications about climate science.

Engagement Resources

The League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit organization working to make climate change addressed in all levels of politics, created a climate science scorecard that provides information about how lawmakers regard various environmental issues.

Columbia Law School at Columbia University has created the Climate Deregulation Tracker, which allows the public to monitor what decisions are being made by the executive branch with regard to climate change.

This Brief was submitted by USRESIST NEWS Analyst Zoe Stricker:



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