NASA has just released a set of breathtaking photographs showing that — despite the repeated avowals of President Donald Trump that climate change isn't a real thing — serious changes are happening in the world, and NASA has photographic proof.
The series, "Images of Change," has been dropped at a key moment for the federal space agency's climate change work. Under President Barack Obama, NASA was focused on Earth science and climate change studies. The research wasn't as attention-grabbing as the work that was being done over at the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, Texas Representative Lamar Smith's favorite climate-change punching bag, but it was still happening.
However, with the advent of the Trump administration, it's fair to expect that NASA and any other federally funded agencies will not have the backing to do this kind of work going forward. As we've mentioned before, the presidential view of NASA can affect everything at the federal space agency, from its annual budget to the type of scientific research it does to the plans and missions it undertakes. While Trump's space policy is still pretty fuzzy, it's already crystal clear that there's no such uncertainty on the subject of climate change.
Trump claims climate change is a hoax, and his pick to become the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, said in his confirmation hearing that he does not accept that the Earth is warming at a catastrophic rate and that humans are to blame. Since Trump was inaugurated on Friday, the White House website has already wiped away all mention of climate change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also abruptly canceled Climate and Health, a planned summit on climate change that was slated to be held in Atlanta next month.
In other words, this is not the best time to be doing climate research for the federal government. And yet, NASA's photo series tweaks Trump's climate denial policies right on the nose with photographic evidence of stark changes made on various landscapes.
There's a before-and-after photo of Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska on September 13, 2015, and August 7, 2016, showing the changes that hit the bay when a massive landslide came down from a 4,000-foot-tall mountain cliff to land on the Lamplugh Glacier:
Then there's the photographic evidence of changes wrought to Yellowstone from October 1998 to September 2016 by massive fires that ripped through Yellowstone in 1988. The red markings in the left photo show how the fire scarred the area, while the photo on the right shows the gradual regrowth:
This pair of images shows the effects of the drought on California and how it has affected the size of Lake Cachuma from October 2013 to October 2016:
And then there's the photos depicting the Arctic's sea ice, which has been in decline for decades. The photo on the left was taken in 1984, while the one on the right was taken in 2016. The amount of ice consistently there has gone from 718,000 square miles in 1984 to 42,000 square miles in 2016:
Trump's administration has already drawn attention for playing fast and loose with facts. NASA isn't being flashy about it, but this series simply offers up photographs to back up the agency's facts.