NASA’s budget is supposed to rise to $19.5 billion in 2019, which may seem like an absurd amount of money, but that is only 0.5% of the federal budget (Amadeo). The budget is increasing because every $1 spent on NASA adds $10 to the economy.
In an interview with my mom, she believes that humans cannot completely reverse the effects we have created with climate change because “There are other factors that contribute to climate change, not only humanity.” She believes this because the climate has changed before throughout history before humans existed, like the Ice Age with the dinosaurs. She doesn’t place as much importance on climate change as an issue because the earth evolves with or without humans. However, humanity does have the power to slow it down.
She believes NASA funding is beneficial because, “As humans evolve we will have the desire and possible the need to explore other planets.” This means that unless humanity changes its course and finds new energy sources, earth will no longer be habitable and we will need to use NASA funding to find a new home. That being said, she agrees that NASA’s funding should increase proportionally with inflation. They must always have adequate funding to continue “important and interesting research.”
She believes gun control is the most important issue of our time, “Because of the recent school shooting in Florida.” I certainly agree that this is the most important issue politically, because America has had more mass shootings than any other country, and has not legalized guns, unlike many other countries with significantly less or a complete disappearance of mass shootings. Similarly, climate change remains an issue not only in the U.S. but the whole world. Both also affect humanity’s physical safety and both can be mitigated by laws or other actions that provoke change.
She is optimistic about humanity’s fate on earth, similar to scientist Johan Rockstrom. The difference between the two is that Rockstrom hypothesizes that in order to save life on earth, we must first leave earth to examine earth’s natural behaviors so we can create solutions and adapt. On the other hand, my mom has faith that our species’ intelligence and resilience will allow us to, “Either change our ways that are damaging the earth or create environments (or man-made living conditions) on earth that can sustain human life.” According to her, technology is advancing and we have a lot of unleashed potential that will modify the way we live and affect the environment.
Ultimately, she supports NASA’s exploration for other habitable planets, but not for the reason that humans will eventually destroy earth. Philosophically, it is a natural step in human evolution and provides, “A deeper understanding of the world around us.”
There is a setback of focusing all or most of NASA’s research capabilities on earth’s climate; it is the missed opportunity to further explore planets outside earth’s orbit. “NASA’s planetary exploration budget sank dramatically starting in 1977,” which unexpectedly allowed for an increase in understanding of earth’s climate. During this time they knew human emissions of aerosols could cool the earth and that carbon dioxide emissions could warm the earth. What was the ultimate result? In 1975 the U.S. National Academy of Science said, “We don’t know. Give us money for research.” Where then is the balance between foreign planetary and earthly research? NASA needs enough money to be able to identify when earth is in jeopardy, and then subsequently enough money to explore other planets to continue the human race. (Climate, hypothesis link)