The AP's John Heilprin has a story today about the government's critically underfunded climate monitoring satellite program
. Here's the lede and nut:
The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases.
A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago.
Because of technology glitches and a near-doubling in the original $6.5 billion cost, the Defense Department has decided to downsize and launch four satellites paired into two orbits, instead of six satellites paired in three orbits.
Going forward, the cut back means NASA, NOAA and the Pentagon will have to rely on European satellites for much of the climate observation data. Rick Piltz, of Climate Science Watch
, calls it criminal negligence. The news comes on the heels of comments by NASA chief Michael Griffin to the effect that global warming, while real, is not a priority concern
. Meanwhile, billions are budgeted to Buck Rogers stuff like building a permanent moon station.