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NASA's $10M Carbon Monitoring System Gets Shut Down By Trump Administration As CO2 Levels Rise

May 15, 2018 09:22 PM EDT
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Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The Trump administration has cut funding for NASA's Carbon Monitoring System, which is a crucial program tracking carbon emissions using information from aircrafts and satellites.
(Photo : Mark Wilson | Getty Images)

Following an all-time-high monthly average of carbon dioxide concentration, the Trump administration shuts down NASA's multimillion research line, the Carbon Monitoring System.

The agency's $10 million per year CMS program has played a huge role in monitoring the planet's carbon dioxide and methane emissions, providing consolidated data that's used all around the world.

What Is The CMS?

Matt McGrath, BBC News environmental correspondent, explains that a lot of nations track carbon emissions by estimating how much fuel they use in the different industries. However, this method is very inaccurate and often easy to cheat.

What CMS does is develop a more efficient system based on satellites and aircraft. While there are other attempts to do this, NASA's efforts are likely the most advanced.

Now, the administration has quietly cut its funding.

Science Magazine, who broke the story on the CMS shutdown, reveals that the programs supported by the CMS are varied and far-reaching: the study of carbon contained in forests, the improvement of carbon inventories in tropical forests, and even the support of other carbon monitoring efforts.

The Effect Of The Shutdown

Kelly Sims, the director of Tufts University's Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, tells Science Magazine that the cancellation of CMS will have a negative effect on the national emission agreements that are part of Paris climate accords.

"If you cannot measure emissions reductions, you cannot be confident that countries are adhering to the agreement," Sims points out, adding that she believes the move to kill off the CMS is "a grave mistake."

United States officials are currently in Germany as part of the discussions in putting together a rule book for the Paris agreement.

"The cancellation of the CMS system will be seen here in Bonn [Germany] as a weakening of the chances of developing a robust and transparent emissions monitoring system — something that many see as critical in building trust for the future of the Paris climate agreement," McGrath stresses in his report.

NASA's ongoing grants under CMS will likely be allowed to wrap up their contracts, but there will no longer be support for brand-new research.

While research will continue with or without the CMS, Europe will likely take over the leadership with their one carbon-measuring satellite.

BBC notes that the United States' agenda on the environment has shifted dramatically under Trump, since the president is seeking to boost the country's fossil fuel industry. President Trump has also previously called climate change a "hoax" and cited the cold weather to prove global warming wrong.

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