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article imagePoll shows climate change should be NASA's top priority

By Karen Graham     Aug 1, 2018 in Science
NASA’s focus should not be on the cosmos but on Earth, according to a wide-ranging Bloomberg poll of Americans’ views on space.
The poll was conducted for Bloomberg Businessweek by research firm Morning Consult, a privately held technology and media company established in 2013. The company specializes in online survey and market research headquartered in Washington, D.C.
A total of 2,202 U.S. adults were surveyed in July, and respondents were given six options to cheese from when asked about their view of NASA's role in space.
Fully 43 percent of respondents said the climate should be NASA’s “top priority." And another 25 percent said the agency should monitor asteroids and other space objects. Surprisingly, only 3.0 percent of adults in the survey said NASA’s top focus should be sending astronauts to the moon, while a mere 8.0 percent said a human trip to Mars or other planets should be a top priority.
As Bloomberg points out, the survey findings are in sharp contrast to NASA's current focus on human spaceflight and deep-space exploration.
As for travel into space, 39 percent of poll respondents said the U.S. spends “just the right amount,” while 37 percent said the country spends too little. Taking a tour into space? Only 43 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to book a trip if they could afford it. But 56 percent were unlikely to go. Over 40 percent said they were not interested in going into space. The main answer? Fear.
And even though the Trump administration has pushed for NASA to return to the moon in the early 2020s and look toward a mission to Mars by the 2030s, NASA has a critical role to play in understanding human-caused climate change, by operating satellites that monitor the earth's forests, deserts, oceans, and atmosphere.
The global thermometer has risen by one degree since the mid 19th-century  enough to see a crescendo...
The global thermometer has risen by one degree since the mid 19th-century, enough to see a crescendo of climate-enhanced droughts, floods, heat waves and superstorms
Science has to be relevant to our daily lives
Casey Dreier, the director of space policy at the Planetary Society, which lobbies for greater funding of space science and exploration, says most people see science in the context of how it affects our daily lives. “What’s relevant to people? Climate change,” he said. “Going to the moon and going to Mars, presented without context, probably doesn’t sound very important to people.”
Under the Barack Obama administration, NASA's Earth Science program saw its biggest growth spurt, and this was because of climate change and the anthropogenic causes of climate change, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Now, the White House wants to slash NASA’s $21 billion budget - encouraging private-sector commercial activity in low Earth orbit as well as deeper forays into the solar system. However, according to the poll, the vast majority believe the government should play a major role in space exploration, while only 38 percent said the same for private-sector companies.
This image obtained from NASA Earth Observatory  shows smoke from the Thomas Fire (top C) in Califor...
This image obtained from NASA Earth Observatory, shows smoke from the Thomas Fire (top C) in California blowing out to the Pacific Ocean on December 5, 2017, along with smoke from the Creek and Rye fires (top R)
HO, NASA Earth Observatory/AFP
In May 2017, Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget said the administration is looking to reduce funding for research on oceans, the atmosphere, and climate. “We want to do some climate science, but we aren’t going to do some of the crazy stuff that the previous administration did," he said.
He apparently didn't elaborate on what the administration considered to be "crazy stuff." For 2019 the White House is seeking approximately $19.9 billion for NASA, with more than $123 million in cuts to Earth Science.
More about NASA, Climate change, asteroids and meteors, morning consult, Opinion poll
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