The process of allocating limited funds to a variety of deserving scientific programs is difficult and controversial. The most recent U.S. budget (fiscal year 2016) prioritized NASA’s space science agenda and NOAA’s weather forecasting focus. NOAA’s de-prioritized functions include maintenance of fisheries, maritime safety, climate research, and ocean investigations. Significant cuts were made to all of these programs. The budget should have continued to prioritize climate and ocean research because they are the most crucial topics in the long term, they affect more people in both the long and short term, and they are essential to protecting residents of the United States and other countries from devastating natural disasters. Climate is currently a hot button issue in politics. The oceans have a significant effect on climate and weather.

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For example, the “El Niño” pattern in the Pacific Ocean can change temperature distributions and weather events on land, and can even influence the health of a population (Bennett et al., 2012). Further research on climate and the oceans is needed to assess the long term changes in climate. In both the short and long term, study of the oceans and climate affects more people than the space science projects conducted by NASA. Global ocean currents and other properties, as well as changes in the marine ecosystems, can have serious impacts on the food supply, coastal erosion, and variety of species (Nye et al., 2014).

For example, the ecosystem of the Scotia and Amundsen Sea in Antarctica has garnered little attention, yet it is important because it fits into the ecology of the world as a whole (Pabis et al., 2015). Thus, virtually every human being is affected. Finally, research into climate and oceans can help to protect human beings from natural disasters such as tsunamis, typhoons and hurricanes, and earthquakes. Many fault lines are located in the ocean; without information about the status of a fault line, predicting earthquakes is more difficult (Smith et al., 20112). Greater knowledge about the properties of the ocean can also improve warning systems for tsunamis.

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  • Nye, J. A., Baker, M. R., Bell, R., Kenny, A., Kilbourne, K. H., Friedland, K. D., … & Wood, R. (2014). Ecosystem effects of the atlantic multidecadal oscillation. Journal of Marine Systems, 133, 103-116.
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  • Smith, D.K., Escartín, J., Schouten, H., Cann, J. (2012). Active long-lived faults emerging along slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. Oceanography 25(1):94–99, oceanog.2012.07.