The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spends roughly $6 million per year to sample carbon dioxide, methane and nearly 20 other gases using a global network of ground stations, tall towers and aircraft.
But faced with shrinking budgets and an uncertain fiscal future, NOAA has stopped measuring greenhouse gas levels at a dozen ground stations, eliminated some aircraft monitoring and cut the frequency of remaining measurements in half. The agency scrapped plans to expand its network of tall towers and is now moving to shut down some of the seven existing sites.
It’s interesting how NOAA collects data. In addition to monitoring stations and towers, the agency also collects samples submitted from volunteers and pays small plane operators for flasks that collect samples mid-flight.
Or, anyway, that’s how they used to do it, when they had the money. Now they’ll just throw flasks up in the air and try to catch them on the way down until the Republican Congress allocates more funding in the year 4392. It’s the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal approach to politics: If you can’t see it, no need to worry.