Policy News

Opinion: Deep Cuts to NOAA Mean Scientists Must Speak Out

I am not a scientist. It's a phrase used by American politicians when asked about global warming, ocean acidification, and other topics whenever proposed solutions or regulations seem to conflict with the financial interests of their political donors.

The implication is that because they cannot understand the problem (or the solution), politicians must instead act in the interest of the one thing they always understand: money.

Well, I am not a scientist, either. But for two decades, I have helped scientists communicate their observations, beginning with NASA and the Energy Department and leading to ECO. One fact I have learned from working with researchers and subject matter experts is that scientists seldom give their opinion. They come to conclusions based on data, but they also build on a body of peer-reviewed research and seek continuous refinement in their understanding of their field. This is what ensures that their work is not guided by politics or opinion; and that's why it was so disturbing for me to read the Trump Administration’s budget proposal released 16 March 2017.

The budget would eliminate $250 million for NOAA grants and programs that support coastal and marine management, research and education. Nearly all of the projects featured in ECO could be impacted by this defunding. The budget also ceases payments to the United Nations' climate change programs for the Green Climate Fund. For more on the importance of that program see our interview with Dr. Hugh Sealy on page 32 of this issue. I could go on about specifics (the cuts are deep), but the point is that ECO's readers, contributors, and advertisers lose funding in this budget. It's a war on science.

That's why, for one day, scientists have decided to give their opinion. The March for Science on 22 April 2017 will bring together scientists and concerned citizens in a show of support for this most vital of investments. Aside from the main march in Washington, D.C., satellite marches are being held around the globe.

I'll speak at the West Palm Beach satellite march, and I don't have to look far for inspiration. The pages of ECO feature many reasons why science should remain a top priority for governments. Whether it's the research by NASA, NOAA, and NSF; the innovation of our national labs; or collaboration with universities, businesses, and citizens, science enriches our lives in essential ways. I hope our readers will join their local march this Earth Day. To find the event nearest to you, click here.

Publisher’s Note: For each issue of ECO Magazine, we invite an expert to provide their opinion on topic of their choosing. The above opinion is an advanced view of a piece appearing in our April 2017 edition, which mails out on 24 March 2017. It does not reflect the opinion of anyone but the author. Opposing views are welcome and subscriptions are free at ecomagazine.com. To contribute your own opinion, contact Greg Leatherman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

By: Greg Leatherman, Editor in Chief, ECO Magazine

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