“From 2002 until this year, NASA’s mission statement…read:
“ ‘To understand and protect our home planet; to explore the universe and search for life; to inspire the next generation of explorers…’
“In early February , the statement was quietly altered, with the phrase ‘to understand and protect our home planet’ deleted…
“[The] change comes as an unwelcome surprise to many NASA scientists, who say the ‘understand and protect’ phrase was not merely window dressing but actively influenced the shaping and execution of research priorities…
“[The] National Aeronautics and Space Act established the agency in 1958 [and had as its] first objective…‘the expansion of human knowledge of the earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.’ ”
“The ‘understand and protect’ phrase was cited repeatedly by James E. Hansen, a climate scientist at NASA who said publicly last winter that he was being threatened by political appointees for speaking out about the dangers posed by greenhouse gas emissions.”
One has to wonder: if NASA is not the lead agency to address global threats to our continued existence, who is? Why would space exploration be more important than working to ensure the continuation of life, especially human life, on Earth?