Government waste – bad thing, right? Well here’s some government waste for you.
More than 10 years of planning, $10 million of government funding and tireless work from the team that discovered life in a lake buried beneath an Antarctic glacier earlier this year may largely go to waste because of the government shutdown.
Oh that kind of government waste…
The WISSARD drilling program — a collaborative effort of 14 principal investigators including glaciologists, geophysicists, microbiologists and others from nine institutions across the country — is one of the largest programs ever fielded by the U.S. Antarctic Program.
The team consists of more than 50 scientists, graduate students and support staff members, who aim to explore the underbelly of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet— a flowing mass of ice about the size of France — in order to study its dynamics and improve models that predict its melting rate. If it were to melt completely, the ice sheet would increase average global sea level by between 10 to 16 feet (3 to 5 meters).
Oh, don’t worry, the market will take care of that.
the National Science Foundation announced this week that it would cancel its entire U.S. Antarctic research program until the shutdown ends, jeopardizing the entire second half of the WISSARD program.
“It’s heartbreaking,” said Slawek Tulaczyk, a glaciologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a principal investigator with WISSARD. “So many people put in their time, their passion into making sure that this happens. It takes a lot of professional, dedicated work.”
Tulaczyk’s team has worked through many weekends over the past three months preparing to ship scientific equipment — some of which they spent years designing specifically for this year’s work — down to Antarctica to ensure that it arrives in time for their field season.
Those shipments have now stopped en route, and likely won’t arrive in Antarctica by mid-November as had been scheduled.
“If we can’t get stuff into the field on time, then there is no reason to see it forward,” Tulaczyk told LiveScience.
They can’t just do it later, because then they would get into the Antarctic winter, and that’s not safe.
Tulaczyk said this series of events may cause his graduate students to question if science was the right investment for them to make with their lives. It’s not the loss of one field season that makes the difference, he said, but the years of preparation and coordination that may now go to waste.
But unless North Korea or Iran suddenly produces some scarily advanced piece of technology that could give them Immediate World Domination, the burn-it-all-down Republicans won’t give a fuck.