In Brief
During his latest Reddit AMA, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed the budget proposal from the Trump administration. Tyson believes cutting NASA Earth science programs will cause us to lose understanding of our own planet.

Everyone’s Astrophysicist

World-renowned astrophysicist, cosmologist, and director of the Hayden Planetarium, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, has once again graced us with a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) session. He fielded questions on a wide array of topics including SpaceX’s plans to reach Mars, alien life, dark matter, and even the different things that blow his mind. The accomplished scientist also had plenty to say about NASA and the budget recently proposed by the Trump administration.

To begin, he called the proposal a “[w]olf in sheep’s clothes.” As a part of the administration’s budget, NASA stands to lose $200 million, with significant cuts in the Earth science division. According to Tyson, “My read of the (entire) plan is to remove Earth monitoring from NASA’s mission statement. leaving NASA to think only about the rest of the Universe and not Earth as a part of that same universe.”

The plan will end several important initiatives in the tracking of global climate change including the agency’s carbon monitoring program and involvement in the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) initiative.

Photo source: NASA
Photo Credit: NASA

A Generation of Hope

Tyson went on to say that such a disconnect “…will be disastrous to our understanding of our own planet, preventing us from knowing and predicting our own impact on our own environment.” Ending these programs will cut off valuable streams of information needed to show the impact of global climate change. This type of information is crucial in preparing us for what could and will come.

Tyson, however, did leave things on a hopeful note when he said, “My sense is that the next generation (30 and younger) does not think this way. They just don’t happen to be old enough to be head of agency, corporations, or government yet. So I look forward to when they are all in charge.”

He refers to this young generation of people born since 1995 as “Generation Exoplanet” as a nod to the first exoplanet discovery (or rather, the first exoplanet that orbits a main sequence star to be discovered) which occurred that year.