Science Denier Ted Cruz Doesn’t Understand NASA’s Core Mission at All

Putting science-denier Senator Ted Cruz in charge of NASA’s funding oversight was never going to go well, and last week the Republican lawmaker really began flexing his muscles, claiming that NASA should focus only on space exploration and stop looking at more Earthly matters.

Until now, Cruz has surprised both his critics and his Tea Party faithful by being relatively quiet in his role as chair of the Senate Space, Science, and Competitiveness Subcommittee. However, during a budget meeting on Thursday, Cruz did seem to tip his hand when he suggested that NASA’s current reportage on Earth science is dull and that it was time to turn our attention back to the stars–and, presumably, away from what all those non-renewable sources of energy we keep burning are actually doing to our planet.

Taking aim at NASA’s requested $18.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2016, and attempting to rattle NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in the process, Cruz asked what NASA’s “core mission” has always been. For an agency that has all of the Earth and space as its domain, this wasn’t an easy thing for Bolden to pin down, but he gave it a reasonable go: “Our core mission from the very beginning has been to investigate, explore space and the Earth environment, and to help us make this place a better place.”

Cruz waved this away, saying: “Almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space. That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country … and you know that I am concerned that NASA in the current environment has lost its full focus on that core mission.”

Apparently, learning about future megadroughts and current ground water loss–issues that could affect children in the future–aren’t the stuff dreams are made of and so presumably not worth funding.

Cruz went on to object to the fact that, according to his many, many charts, since President Obama was elected, NASA’s space exploration budget has decreased while its exploration of Earth has increased. This, Cruz argued, isn’t what the public expects of NASA.

Democratic lawmakers on the panel pointed out that while there may have been a reduction in space exploration spending across the board, that ignores the fact that the Obama administration has increased funds, for instance, for developing new technologies that will eventually aid space exploration and ignores Cruz’s own attempts to defund NASA in previous years.

Cruz disregarded this however and continued his attack. When Bolden began talking about NASA’s monitoring of water distribution in the Earth’s soil as a necessary look into not just water distribution but how our planet might be changing, Cruz offered what the media has taken to be the soundbite of the day: ”I love our Texas soil,” said Cruz, “but that ain’t what makes NASA special.”

If Cruz thought his latest performance was a convincing one, however, scratch the thin veneer of badgering a NASA representative and what we really have is Cruz and his fellow Republicans trying to passive-aggressively bully NASA away from climate science. And that’s no wonder. Take Cruz’s previous comments on climate change and his apparent disdain for science: ”You always have to be worried about something that is considered a so-called scientific theory that fits every scenario. Climate change, as they have defined it, can never be disproved, because whether it gets hotter or whether it gets colder, whatever happens, they’ll say, well, it’s changing, so it proves our theory.”

Cruz has previously joked that Al Gore must have got the global warming thing all wrong because of, well, snow and cold weather. He’s also flat out denied that the climate has changed. “The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming,” he’s quoted as saying, despite the recorded warming NASA and other agencies have logged. “Contrary to all the theories that they are expounding, there should have been warming over the last 15 years. It hasn’t happened.

It has. And it is still happening.

Cruz’s defenders have rushed to say that he never actually mentioned climate change during Thursday’s hearing–but that’s precisely the issue, isn’t it? Cruz denies climate change exists, and therefore is blind to all of NASA’s good work documenting its effects and projecting future problems.

What’s also fairly obvious though is that Cruz clearly doesn’t know how important understanding our own planet is to our space exploration goals. NASA’s looking at our climate, Earth’s rock composition, ozone layer depletion and more all helps us to understand what we are seeing when we look out into space. I quite agree that Congress should want a robust space mission, but defunding our attempts to understand our own planet out of science denial and partisan point scoring isn’t the way to do it. Instead, reducing military spending and putting that money toward scientific exploration is what is needed here.

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

170 comments

Carl O.
Carl O2 years ago

Presidential candidate Ted Cruz's campaign slogan is TrusTED. After his campaign workers call Ben Carson supporters and falsely informed them that Carson had dropped out of the race I believe UntrusTed would be more appropriate. Although there are many other slogans that might fit as well. As a Hispanic who is trying to remove those who are undocumented he could choose DeporTED. His actions to shut down the government to close Planned Parenthood and end abortion maybe IncesTED, MolesTED and AborTED would be more appropriate. Since he only received two endorsements from his colleagues in the senate from his good buddy Mike Lee and a humiliating endorsement from Lindsay Graham should his campaign slogan be UnwanTED or ContempTED. His anger at watching T Rump win the majority of the priaries and caucuses might lead one to believe that FrustraTED would work. Cruz who hails from Canada as well as T Rump fail to understand that America is a land of immigrants and his vision of America is DistorTED. It is a long shot that he will become president by should it happen the course of our country will be negatively ImpacTED and his presidency will be RegretTED.

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

SEND
Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

SEND
Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

NASA was created for our space program. It seems whenever we create another department of government, they have to take more and more on themselves.

SEND
Dennis D.
Past Member 3 years ago

Mark this day on the calendar, poindexter. As it is the very rare time that you are right about something..

What Poindexter is refering to is this: United States Congress, “An act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (March 26, 1790).
http://www.indiana.edu/~kdhist/H105-documents-web/week08/naturalization1790.html

Now for some facts. the Courts have been reluctant to go near this since Sen. Goldwater.. And the latest two being Sen. McCain and Mr. Romney receptively. The Supreme Court has shies away as has many federal courts just see this as opening up to many troubles with out any a clear path to a viable conclusion.

I doubt that any federal court will weigh in willingly on this subject. So when the election board certifies Sen.Cruz as a candidate. The courts will leave the subject alone.

So remember this day well folks. It is a rare day when poindexter is right about anything. Maybe there is hope for yet Dan. Maybe one day you will recognize that climate change/ global warming as established science.. Yeah, I know. Not happening.

SEND
Dan Blossfeld
Dan B3 years ago

Joan S.,
Nowhere is it written that someone must be born on American soil to be called an American. Many have been on foreign soil, to one or both American parents, and are still citizens by birth. This is to prevent penalizing those living abroad, in the military, or just traveling.

SEND
Louise D.
Louise D3 years ago

Okie Dokie just for Dan B. - Brian F. and Pam W I invoke Gores law on you too and I set Man Bear Pig on you now stop it and the same goes to Dan B. for being a snitch.

SEND
Amy L.
Amy L3 years ago

Ted Cruz is so gross and crazy. I wish he would go away for good.

SEND
joan silaco
joan s3 years ago

i had to comment again because this guy is such an idiot, he deserves more than one comment. he thinks there is not relationship between the and the sky's outer limits. nasa can see what's going on in others parts of the world, because of space. as in another article on this same page regarding the pacific island of tonga. how the island has expanded physically etc. you just have to read it to understand, but that would be too tough for cruz to fathom.

SEND
joan silaco
joan s3 years ago

i think i found what the topic of my petition will be. this guy is not an american! was not born on american soil. i don't care where in the united states his mother comes from. for him to be an american, his mother would have to drop that baby out of her womb on the airport tarmac in any one of the fifty states.

SEND