When NASA goes woke
America's National Aeronautics and Space Administration, aka NASA, is a federal agency established in 1958 and dedicated to exploring space for "peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind." The act lists eight objectives, all of which are related to space — that is, the enormous, uncharted region beyond Earth's atmosphere.
Over the years, NASA has managed to accomplish some pretty cool things. Its Apollo program saw the first human walk on the moon in 1969. It's sent up shuttles and space stations, satellites and Mars missions. My personal favorite is the Hubble, simple because the images it's sent back to Earth never fail to dazzle and enthrall me.
But frankly, NASA has bigger things to deal with than exploring the universe. Here at home, Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity, not to mention "Environmental Justice," exert their siren call on the bureaucracy. So, on December 8, NASA's Science Mission Directorate let it be known that there's a new opportunity for those involved in ROSES (i.e., Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences):
The NASA Earth Science Division (ESD) solicits proposals to advance progress on equity and environmental justice (EEJ) domestically through the application of Earth science, geospatial, and socioeconomic information. With this program element, NASA is especially interested in proposals from or partnered with non-Federal domestic organizations, community-based non-profit institutions, tribal governments, local governments, and academic institutions active in addressing EEJ issues that would benefit from the insights offered by NASA Earth science information. This solicitation includes three elements: 1) Landscape analyses, 2) Community-based feasibility projects, and 3) Data integration projects that combine Earth science information and socioeconomic datasets.
Since I've been blessedly fortunate never to have worked in government, I must admit that much of this sounds like gibberish to me. Gamely, though, I tried to find my way through the various links. It was not a pleasant experience, given the endless documents, all written in governmentese, a singularly ugly and uncommunicative language.
Ultimately, I learned that "[t]he description of the specific proposal opportunity on this page is contained in the document 'A.48 Earth Science Applications: Socioeconomic Assessments.'" Fine. I'll go to document "A.48." After some clicking back and forth between documents, I realized that the document with the quoted language was, in fact, "A.48." In other words, NASA has a totally non-descriptive document that refers to itself for a description. You've got to love how the government works.
Image: NASA logo. Public domain.
Eventually, I found my way to a 998-page PDF. And there I found that NASA has gone totally woke:
The Administration and the sponsors have increased attention on environmental justice, recognizing that environmental pollution and policies can have differing and disproportionate social, economic, public health, and other adverse impacts on underprivileged and historically disadvantaged populations. The sponsors expect that environmental justice will be one of the topics to address in the socioeconomic assessments. [Fn. omitted.]
With no irony at all, the document admits that "Baseline knowledge of socioeconomic concepts and assessment methodologies is limited in the Earth science community." You think? Maybe the fact that Earth sciences still has a vague relationship with objective and useful information means that most of the people in the field haven't abandoned their brains to leftism and a race-based, victim-centric approach to all data.
Beginning at page 347, we eventually learn that "[e]xamples of environmental injustice include: severe impacts due to extreme weather, inequality in access to resources like water, proximity to environmental hazards (air, water, and soil pollution, and exposure to extreme heat or toxic substances) among others." In other words, this is the old trope (and, admittedly, a true trope) that poor people are more likely than rich to live near pollutants or without the benefit of air-conditioning.
At page 348, NASA gives examples of how it's taken the lead in figuring out the obvious: poor people are less likely to have power returned quickly after hurricanes than rich people; satellites may be useful in locating water sources in dry regions; big cities without trees get hot (at least, I think that's what it said); and climate change causing rising waters always hits poor people hardest (and apparently never hits rich people like the Obamas, with their multi-million-dollar waterfront properties).
Ultimately, as best as I can tell having skimmed this gobbledygook, NASA is restating facts we already know and political points that have already been scored, wrapping them up in woke language, and taking taxpayer money to put a big bow on the package.
Next time you write that check to the IRS or look at the thousands withheld from your paychecks, just remember the causes they are funding — and then vow never again to vote for Democrats, progressives, Social Democrats, or any other type of leftist.
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