Monday, when Rush Limbaugh mused about the discovery of flowing water on the surface of Mars he as he is want to do, attempted to tie it in with an Earthly political issue, in this case, climate change. Limbaugh suggested that someone would attempt to make a relationship between water on Mars and the idea that global warming is threatening the Earth. Naturally, some parts of the media leaped upon what Rush said with both feet, despite the fact that the conservative radio talker tried to clarify his position on Tuesday.
Politico declared that Rush had suggested that the discovery of water on the Martian surface was “part of the leftist agenda,” claiming that Limbaugh did not believe the NASA announcement. Mother Jones went even further and stated that Limbaugh was the equivalent of a moon landing denier. Call him a Mars water truther.
Rush was not actually denying the existence of water on Mars but was making a clumsy attempt to use the announcement to make a point about the corruption of American institutions like NASA by the Obama administration. But he was wrong about an important point. NASA is not using Mars water as an excuse to support the theory of climate change. The space agency is using the news to support its “journey to Mars” program that would land astronauts on the Red Planet in the 2030s. Where water exists, there might be life. Humans need to go to Mars to ascertain whether there is life on Mars and to study it.
Ironically, space exploration and climate change are in conflict at NASA. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, has stated on more than one occasion that NASA is spending too much money on Earth science (i.e. climate change studies) and not enough on space exploration. The left slammed Cruz for this stance, suggesting that he is “anti-science.”
Rush Limbaugh is right that the Obama administration has corrupted NASA. But he is wrong about how it has done so. President Obama canceled the Bush era space exploration program. The current program, underfunded as it is, is a shadow of its former self. That fact is illustrative of the true damage the president has inflicted on the space agency.
Mark R. Whittington is the author of Why is it so Hard to Go Back to the Moon? and The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper