This is upsetting.
NASA has deleted from its mission statement the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet.”
This edit was made in conjunction with the Bush administration’s new Vision for Space Exploration, whose primary objective is to shift NASA’s emphasis (and public attention) away from Earth-bound issues (ie, global warming) and towards flashy manned Moon and Mars missions.
From the New York Times article on the subject:
“…the change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the ‘understand and protect’ phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities. Without it, these scientists say, there will be far less incentive to pursue projects to improve understanding of terrestrial problems like climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.”
NASA scientists have suffered from a great deal of unsettling censorship recently, including attempts by former Bush appointee George Deutsch — who lied about graduating from Texas A&M (and, incidentally, told a Web designer to add the word “theory” to any mention of the Big Bang) — to silence climate scientists such as James Hansen from speaking out about global warming. The NOAA is suffering from similar problems.
The omission of this all-important phrase is such an elegant act of symbolic destruction that it’s almost Orwellian. The issue of “climate change,” as its called in Bush doublespeak, is much more important than the government’s petty desire to evade responsibility for it.
Nothing is more important than understanding and protecting “our” home — which is home, of course, to millions of varieties of life for whom we have no right to make decisions. It’s an ugly irony to pretend to be forward-thinking enough to slough off our commitment to this planet, when this represents, rather, an absolute lack of foresight.