It's a pretty sad day if you're a US scientist. We just wrote that funding (especially for young researchers) has dwindled in the past decades, and now, there's some more bad news. The people in charge of funding for NASA and environmental research, Republican senators Ted Cruz and James Inhofe, have a record of not understanding science and making pseudoscientific affirmations. While I won't discuss the politics here (we never do), the fact that such important matters fall onto the shoulders of people known to be pretty much adversaries of science cannot be left unchecked.
Senator Ted Cruz was appointed to rule senate subcommittee that oversees NASA - he basically controls NASA in Congress. This is pretty ironic when you consider that he repeatedly tried to reduce NASA funding (and successfully shut it down for over two weeks). Talk about having a wolf guarding the sheep! But wait, it gets better - Cruz is a firm opponent of climate change (whatever that may mean), and has vocally refuted funding any climate change study. He says:
"They'll [scientists] say, well, it's changing so it proves our theory." He maintains that the problem with climate change is there's no data to support it and that "there has never been a day in the history of the world in which the climate is not changing."
With just a Tweet long sentence, he managed to show that not only does he not understand climate change science - he doesn't understand climate at all. But it gets even better. Here's what Cruz had to say about observing global warming:
"The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming. Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn't happened."
It's not even like you need advanced science to debunk that - all you need is to look at the thermometer. In case you're not aware, 2014 was the 18th year straight warmer than the average in US! 2012 was the hottest year in the US (by far), California is experiencing the worst drought in over 1,000 years, and pretty much every serious science agency agrees that global warming is happening, and it's man-made. Yet this man will decide (to an extent) the future of NASA, and how the space agency gets to spend its money. Quite a brilliant world we live, isn't it?
James Inhofe on the other hand is not a climate change denier - he does believe that global warming is happening, but he thinks it's a good thing.
"It's also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far, no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives."
He wants to cut funding from renewable energy research and invest more in the oil industry. So disregard what almost all the scientific community is saying - climate change is good for you, we should use even more oil!
But seriously now, the pair of lawmakers have shown, time and time again, that they don't understand science, and furthermore, that they are against it. Now, these two are in positions of direct power over topics they don't grasp and they have opposed to repeatedly. Science is true no matter whether you believe it or not, that's the good thing. The bad thing is that science can't write laws. Cruz and Inhofe can.