Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Changing times call for rationalizing Earth observation


  • Julie Wakefield


Svante Arrhenius was one of the first scientists to look at human influences on climate change. In the first years of this century, he posed the question whether burning fossil fuels might raise the Earth's surface temperature. Since his first study, however, scientists have only learned the profundity of his query, as well as that of the question's flip side: Does it really matter?

Today, the world is indeed clamoring for better answers on global change. At the same time, the largest component of the U.S. global change research program may face another funding reduction. NASA's multibillion dollar Earth Observing System (EOS) has been mentioned throughout this year's budget talks as a target for savings by the Republican leadership. And last month House Science Committee chair Rep. Robert Walker (R-Pa.) called for another batch of reviews of EOS by the National Academy of Sciences and NASA. Both sets of reviews are to be completed this summer.