Joe Henderson: Deep budget cuts to NOAA? Of course!

noaa irma

Memo to all Florida coastal residents: You might want to stock up on canned goods, rafts, and life vests. There’s a big wind comin’ out of Washington and it is aimed right at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – you know it better as NOAA – and this state we all call home.

The Miami Herald reported that President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget slashes funding for the climate research budget at NOAA by 37 percent.

It also cuts the National Weather Service budget by six percent.

Of course it does. With apologies to Bob Dylan, we don’t need a weatherman to know which way this wind is blowing.

Why spend money icky things like trying to save Florida and other states from the ravages of climate change? It’s much easier to dismiss the science behind all that as junk when you’ve cut out most of the science.

What’s next? Blaming the rising sea levels already being felt in some coastal areas on a leaky faucet?

Maybe someone should have warned the president that cutting storm research like this is a bad idea because his prized Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach could be in the path of one of the monster storms like we had last summer.

Bring up this curious lack of awareness about the planet we occupy the next time your Republican friend turns red in the face and screams that the party is NOT anti-science.

Ask them to explain why spending $18 billion on a border wall in the name of security makes sense but combating the verifiable threat of climactic catastrophe is dismissed as wasteful.

This might be a good time to remind the president that he won Florida’s 29 electoral votes in 2016 by just 1.2 percent of nearly 10 million votes that were cast.

We know what can happen here when one of those big storms fires up and takes aim. We saw it last year and the odds are pretty good we’ll it again. Think of NOAA as our early-warning system, and that can literally save lives if a large-scale evacuation is needed.

Of course, the cuts still have to be approved by Congress and I would expected Florida’s representatives to put up a spirited fight. The proposed budget really speaks to the administration’s priorities, though – and apparently weather research and warnings don’t make the cut.

We’re supposed to believe illegal immigrants are roaming the streets in search of prey, but we can do without research on those big red blobs of Category 5 winds headed our way

In her blog on, Addie Haughey, the associate director of government relations, called the cuts “shocking” and noted, “This budget abandons coastal states that are trying to prepare for a changing ocean and increased coastal risks to people and wildlife. If President Trump’s proposal goes through, it will impact hard-working marine mammal first responders that rescue dolphins and manatees.

“It will cut back potentially lifesaving tsunami warnings that alert all our coastal communities. It will impact the ability of coastal regions to seek and determine the best solutions to make them resilient in the face of a rapidly changing climate.”

Ah, if only dolphins and manatees could vote.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


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