Trump Administration Terminates NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

The Trump Administration has killed NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System (CMS), a program that monitored carbon output worldwide, Science reports.

The move jeopardizes plans to verify the national emission cuts agreed to in the Paris climate accords, says Kelly Sims Gallagher, director of Tufts University’s Center for International Environment and Resource Policy in Medford, Massachusetts. “If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement,” she says. Canceling the CMS “is a grave mistake,” she adds.

The White House has mounted a broad attack on climate science, repeatedly proposing cuts to NASA’s earth science budget, including the CMS, and cancellations of climate missions such as the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3). Although Congress fended off the budget and mission cuts, a spending deal signed in March made no mention of the CMS. That allowed the administration’s move to take effect, says Steve Cole, a NASA spokesperson in Washington, D.C. Cole says existing grants will be allowed to finish up, but no new research will be supported.

The agency declined to provide a reason for the cancellation beyond “budget constraints and higher priorities within the science budget.” But the CMS is an obvious target for the Trump administration because of its association with climate treaties and its work to help foreign nations understand their emissions, says Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts. And, unlike the satellites that provide the data, the research line had no private contractor to lobby for it.

Many of the 65 projects supported by the CMS since 2010 focused on understanding the carbon locked up in forests. For example, the U.S. Forest Service has long operated the premier land-based global assessment of forest carbon, but the labor-intensive inventories of soil and timber did not extend to the remote interior of Alaska. With CMS financing, NASA scientists worked with the Forest Service to develop an aircraft-based laser imager to tally up forest carbon stocks. “They’ve now completed an inventory of forest carbon in Alaska at a fraction of the cost,” says George Hurtt, a carbon cycle researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park, who leads the CMS science team.

The program’s cost is $10 million per year.

  • duheagle

    From what I’ve been able to determine, the CMS program does not “monitor carbon output worldwide.” It uses ground-based inventories and measurements and airborne sensors. NASA can operate freely in U.S. airspace and that of any other cooperating nation, but it has no ability to monitor carbon over China or Russia with these instruments. Just these two nations account for a very sizable fraction of the world’s total land area.

    NASA’s own website has no comprehensive description of CMS, especially no coverage map.

    Given that the U.S. is no longer a party to the so-called “Paris Accords” – and yet is, ironically, the only large nation likely to actually meet the carbon reduction targets contained therein due to the ongoing conversion of much U.S. baseload power generation from coal-fired to fracked gas-fired, invoking “Paris” as a justification for CMS seems a long stretch.

  • duheagle

    Nat gas is produced as a biproduct of petrochemical industry not as a specific product

    Where do you get these crazy ideas?

  • duheagle

    The Obama administration certainly was actively trying to kill coal. That market forces were already doing it was immaterial. The Obama administration didn’t believe in market forces.

  • Michael Halpern

    they get more money from diesel and gasoline, if it wasn’t for those nat gas would not be as economical

  • Steve Ksiazek

    I’m not so sure about the long-haul trucking industry, but there is definitely some movement towards moving short-haul / local trucking to electric. That’s what Walmart is going to try, and UPS / FedEx are testing electric vans as well. This might actually be an area where Tesla could survive because there really isn’t as much established competition.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Don’t worry, Elon Musk is working on it 🙂

    https://www.tesla.com/semi

    “Semi is the safest, most comfortable truck ever. Four independent motors
    provide maximum power and acceleration and require the lowest energy
    cost “

  • ThomasLMatula

    Yes, BN has a lot of natural gas resources available.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually there is.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    China is no longer a developing nation. They should be considered a developed nation. Just my opinion.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    It may be dying. But, that still hasn’t stopped yhe powers that be from building a coal mine in the Sabine County area of Eastern Texas.

  • Michael Halpern

    Is it thermal coal or met coal? Met coal will still have quite some demand

  • Steve Ksiazek

    It’s easy for Musk to say that. He’s not a truck-driver that lives in his truck.

    I’d like to see the numbers on how long / how many miles it takes to break even when you compare a new Freightliner with a Tesla. The upfront cost difference between the 2 is huge.

  • Michael Halpern

    Actually they don’t, at most they don’t tell how the sensors are made, if you take the time to look for it you can get the raw data

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    From your POV I can see that. However since I work with these folks I can tell you what I SEE are project administrators acting like a business because of competition and an opposition that they see as irrational, and that they lost trying to be open and frank for a long time. Many climate scientists see themselves as having been beat out by ignorant louts and about 10 years ago changed their public front face match the tactics and strategy of their opposition. It’s difficult to constantly interact with opposition on a day to day basis, very few people like myself enjoy it. And fewer still can have a knock down drag out argument and then suggest that ‘we punch out’ and go have lunch. I can see your POV. My POV is we’re planetary engineers but not by intention. Our actions and systems will have more and more impact on the evolution of the planet, and future planets. We’re going to have to deal with it. We don’t know enough for the EPA to totally have the problem handed to them, and the Leese Fare fantasy of the Libertarians can’t deal with the issue. And the Lord God Jehova will bail us out fantasy of the Republicans is not going to work either. Right now the EPA is all we have, and neither side is willing to come to the table, and show their deck of cards and talk honestly. Both sides want to defeat the other side. Which has taken this from a man vs nature problem to a man vs man conflict.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    And look at how the Chinese have responded. They made a very clever move. Look at who asked for these tariffs and what happened to them, and who did it. Tariffs are not going to kick start more American manufacturing of solar cells and panels. I’m afraid you’re going to have to spawn more Solyndras and combine that with protectionist policies just as they do in Europe and China.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    While I loved and admired their writings, they did their best. It was a ongoing thread even back then. Consider this gem from 1958. It’s climate opera but there were groups back then considering the problem, and no doubt were ‘proved wrong’ in the 1970’s when the data showed net cooling in North America. Of course we did not understand the dynamics of aerosols having a cooling effect until the clean air act, industry moved from the US to China and then the halt to air travel in US airspace after 9/11. Yet the data was there in front of us. Ever wonder why some of the coldest winters in the Northern Hemisphere happened in WWI and WWII? After 9/11 it made sense, war production was pumping the atmosphere with gigatons of soot. Willy Ley and Issac Asimov could not do a good job of describing climate change, because we can’t do a good job of describing it. We can’t predict it yet, all we can do is measure it’s chaotic trajectory after the fact. The real problem of climate policy is that it impacts the making of money. If it did not impact that, it would not be a problem.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Don’t know, yet. Many people here still use well systems for water. We are concerned about the ground water quality.

  • duheagle

    Climate science is a particularly egregious example of fraud and self-dealing on the part of so-called “scientists,” but it’s hardly the only one even if it is almost certainly the worst – mainly because Leftist orthodoxy is now combined with garden variety greed and venality in fueling the malignancy. The amount of fraud being found in other areas of government grant-supported science also seems to increase every year. This is not something that can be allowed to stand. It is also obvious that self-policing is not working. I am working on a modest proposal of my own about what to do about all this that I hope to finish and get published before year”s end.

    Being an astronomer, I suppose the whole concept of scientific fraud is more than a bit alien to you. I mean it’s not like one can simply assert that one has found a new planet/moon/asteroid/whatever in order to curry favor with government funders and other sources of grant money. As Agent Mulder famously said, the truth is out there. But self-aggrandizing bamboozlements are a lot easier to gin up in many other fields.

  • duheagle

    I don’t think war production was the problem so much as war destruction. Burning an entire city puts a lot of soot in the air. And we and the Brits burned a lot of cities to the ground in WW2.

  • duheagle

    I think I’d prefer to see how Tesla’s Buffalo works does first.

  • duheagle

    The amount of natural gas extracted along with liquid petroleum is trivial and, as much of this was typically flared off at the wellhead for many years, contributed negligibly to the overall supply. Gas for power, heating, etc., almost all comes from purpose-drilled wells. That was true of gas tapped from gas-only or gas-mostly geological reservoirs in the past and of gas tapped from hydraulically fractured deep rock strata today.

  • windbourne

    i have been angry at Trump for speaking CORRECTLY about China and then doing nothing. He is FINALLY starting to do his job.
    And I would say that it is time for us to put on a vat of say 18%, along with tariffs on any nation’s goods where they have loads of tariffs on us. China blocks nearly everything.

  • windbourne

    In fact, Tesla WAS generating profits before they started the X and then the 3. Ppl do not realize that MS and MX have GPM of 30+%. In addition, the TM3 should be around 25% once they are up to 5K / week.

  • windbourne

    It really should not matter if developing or not. Basically, we need all nations to kill off their coal.

  • Michael Halpern

    Same is also true in relation to SpaceX, I have seen some people suggest F9s are launching at a loss…

  • redneck

    Ah well, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

    That’s because they didn’t have us on that job.

  • redneck

    You are aware that tariffs are a tax on Americans?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    There are more, but their mix is usually 1/3rd US production, and 2/3rds Asian production with their more advanced factories overseas where foreign governments either pay for the infrastructure, or help pay for it. I THINK Tesla is the only solar manufacturer that only produces in the US, but I would imagine China will not allow that for long if Tesla is going to sell their solar rooftops in China. They’ll demand a Chinese production line, and get it.

  • Michael Halpern

    china’s solar market while mostly low quality is flooded,

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I hear many things about the Chinese market when it comes to wind and solar. I read that their rejection rate is high. In other worlds, Chinese grid operators reject accepting solar and wind power into their grids. It seems the US soaks up pretty much whatever it gets. And Texas sometimes goes 100% wind for hours at a time when the weather is right. Then there was this experience with a windfarm in Australia. So yes, I wonder how these things really pay off. If that Australian experience is indicative of the future, it looks like grids worldwide will probably adopt battery banks simply as a means of load matching. If so solar and wind will become much more viable and that lack of fuel costs will really come to the fore.

  • windbourne

    Yes they are, and the tariffs that other nations have charged us to block our goods has cost America plenty.

  • windbourne

    ‘some’ people? I recall quite a few saying SX would fail and then later claiming that prices would double.