Bob Walker, who has been appointed by the President-elect to chair the Nasa transition team for the new administration, said there was no need for Nasa to do what he has previously described as “politically correct environmental monitoring”.
Mr Walker, who was the chair of aerospace research under George Bush, said the “interference” of politicians in climate change research was preventing scientists from discovering the “reality” about climate change, and indicated that the Trump administration would replace Nasa’s focus on global warming with efforts to send humans into space.
Mr Walker told The Guardian: “We see Nasa in an exploration role, in deep space research. Earth-centric science is better placed at other agencies where it is their prime mission.
“I believe that climate research is necessary but it has been heavily politicised, which has undermined a lot of the work that researchers have been doing. Mr Trump’s decisions will be based upon solid science, not politicised science.
He added that doubt over the role of human activity in climate change was “a view shared by half the climatologists in the world," before adding: “We need good science to tell us what the reality is and science could do that if politicians didn’t interfere with it.”
Climate experts have rejected Mr Walker's claims that climate research is "politicised", and said Nasa's climate research was crucial in order to understand the links between human activity and global warming.
Professor Martin Siegert, glaciologist and Co-Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, told The Independent: "The news that Donald Trump regards Nasa's Planet Earth Science as being politically motivated is troubling and wholly incorrect.
"Nasa, through its capability in space science and remote observation, has allowed a deeper understanding of natural processes and their interconnection that collectively support life on Earth. We benefit from such work as it allows us to understand how human activity (of all nations) has affected the Planet (in all places).
"While decisions to solve the problems uncovered will require political involvement, I don't see how the research can be regarded as political in any way.
"Nasa undertakes Earth observation for three reasons. First, Earth observation requires the use of satellites and space technology; second, the development of this technology can be refined for use in deeper space missions; and thirdly, Earth provides important analogues for other solar system bodies, and so their investigation is vital to our comprehension of processes elsewhere.
"Taking Earth Science away from Nasa would thus be seriously detrimental to its function in deep space exploration."
Mr Trump is an avowed climate change denier and said during his campaign that it was nothing more than a “hoax”, claiming the so-called myth may have been started by the Chinese.
The President-elect repeatedly said he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement once in office, and since winning the election announced he would cancel what he called “job-killing” restrictions on American fossil fuel resources.
Nonetheless Mr Trump has recently appeared to have made a U-turn by indicating there is “some connectivity” between humans and global warming, but climate experts have warned his administration will still be in “climate denial” due to his appointment of a series of climate change deniers and oil industry lobbyists to his transition team.
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