Excavating the News 5/27: Jupiter Rising

This week, in the middle of the shoving contest between headlines and/or world leaders, there were a number of important science news items that came out. Even with the international antics and new developments in the Russia collusion story, one of the biggest stories all around was the new budget released on Tuesday, which proposes deep cuts to Medicaid, SNAP, and Social Security disability benefits. The president’s wishlist for chopping domestic programs also includes severe cuts to science and health research funding. NIH, NSF, USGS, EPA, FDA, the CDC, and practically everything else in the science-agency alphabet soup face budget cuts, while other programs would be eliminated entirely, like ARPA-E, the Dept. of Energy’s energy research group; NOAA’s grant and education program; and NASA’s Office of Education. The proposed cuts even reach as far as California’s earthquake early-warning system, which would lose its federal funding, killing the project.

Climate Change Censorship

Meanwhile, at the Dept. of the Interior, a press release about research conducted in part by USGS researchers was censored to remove information about climate change. The study (“Doubling of coastal flooding frequency within decades due to sea-level rise”) opens with the line “Global climate change drives sea-level rise, increasing the frequency of coastal flooding,” and the same line was deleted from the release, to the protests of the study’s co-authors. The removal of climate change references fits with a wider trend of “rebranding” that the Washington Post reports happening at federal agencies and departments; clean energy is simply energy, and addressing climate change is now about improving “resilience.” A staffer says that the changes are preemptive: “It’s our own career staff. They’re in their keep-their-head-down, ‘maybe they won’t cut our budget’ mode.”

Disappearing Data

In response to government data sets going missing or becoming harder to access, ThinkProgress is tracking and filing FOIA requests for any data and information that disappears from public access.

G7 and the Paris Accords

At the G7 meeting this week, the leaders of the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK) reaffirmed their support for the Paris Accords…except for America, as pointedly noted in the joint statement. 45 only said that he would announce his decision to stay in or pull out of the Paris Accords next week. Meanwhile, 45’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn reiterated misleading talking points about the Paris Accords but also seemed to reverse directions on the coal industry, saying that coal  doesn’t “make that much sense anymore,” while renewable energy could make America “a manufacturing powerhouse.”

And as a chaser: this week, NASA released new results from Juno, a space probe orbiting Jupiter, including such brilliant images as the one below:


This image shows Jupiter’s south pole, as seen by NASA’s Juno spacecraft from an altitude of 32,000 miles (52,000 kilometers). The oval features are cyclones, up to 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) in diameter. Multiple images taken with the JunoCam instrument on three separate orbits were combined to show all areas in daylight, enhanced color, and stereographic projection.

Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles


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