The race to save our planet from climate change has often been compared to the space race in the 1960s, and for good reason–both races offer a time crunch, the threat of impending doom, and the promise that throwing money and resources at the problem might make a difference. So the Obama administration recently proposed a NASA budget that would give $2.4 billion to the organization’s Earth Sciences division, which, as you might guess, studies the Earth from above.
VentureBeat reports that the money–a 62% increase in the Earth Sciences budget–will be used to keep track of ice cap size, CO2 growth in the atmosphere, where CO2 is coming from, and ocean and atmospheric temperatures. NASA buffs will be quick to point out that the organization already has 13 climate change satellites in orbit, but all of them are old and in need of repair or replacement. The cash infusion from the government will allow NASA to fix the satellites, launch five new models, and tack on an ozone-monitoring extension to the International Space Station.
NASA’s spiffed-up satellites might not be able to stop climate change by themselves, but they will at least offer concrete data that can be used to make informed decisions about whether we should implement geoengineering solutions or increase greenhouse gas restrictions in certain industries. The satellites can also hopefully be integrated into NASA and Cisco’s Planetary Skin, a proposed global monitoring system of environmental conditions that
uses a worldwide network of sensors to analyze nearly everything
happening on the planet. At the very least, more climate change data can’t hurt.