President Trump Seeking To Slash NOAA Budget By 17-22% Putting Many American Lives At Risk

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.

The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.

NOAA is part of the Commerce Department, which would be hit by an overall 18 percent budget reduction from its current funding level.

The Office of Management and Budget also asked the Commerce Department to provide information about how much it would cost to lay off employees, while saying those employees who do remain with the department should get a 1.9 percent pay increase in January 2018. It requested estimates for terminating leases and government “property disposal.”

The OMB outline for the Commerce Department for fiscal 2018 proposed sharp reductions in specific areas within NOAA such as spending on education, grants and research. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent, of the funds it has under the current budget. Its satellite data division would lose $513 million, or 22 percent, of its current funding under the proposal.

The National Marine Fisheries Service and National Weather Service would be fortunate by comparison, facing only 5 percent cuts.

The figures are part of the OMB’s “passback” document, a key part of the annual budget process in which the White House instructs agencies to draw up detailed budgets for submission to Congress. The numbers often change during the course of negotiations between the agency and the White House and between lawmakers and the administration later on. The 2018 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department declined to comment. A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the process was “evolving” and cautioned against specific numbers. The official would not respond to questions about the four-page passback document.

The biggest single cut proposed by the passback document comes from NOAA’s satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which includes a key repository of climate and environmental information, the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers there were behind a study suggesting that there has been no recent slowdown in the rate of climate change — research that drew the ire of Republicans in Congress.

Another proposed cut would eliminate a $73 million program called Sea Grant, which supports coastal research conducted through 33 university programs across the country. That includes institutions in many swing states that went for President Trump, such as the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Florida and North Carolina State University.

The OMB passback said that the administration wanted to “prioritize rebuilding the military” and would seek “savings and efficiencies to keep the Nation on a responsible fiscal path.” It said that its proposed funding cut for the Commerce Department “highlights the tradeoffs and choices inherent in pursuing these goals.”

The OMB also said that the White House would come up with ideas to modernize “outdated infrastructure,” but it said that agencies should not expect increases in their fiscal 2018 discretionary-spending “toplines” as a result.

On Wednesday, after his confirmation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that drawing up a budget would be a top priority. “One of the first steps,” he said, “will be securing adequate appropriations from the Congress. In a period of budgetary constraint, that will be a major challenge.”

The OMB passback document said that the Commerce Department, like other agencies, should “buy and manage like a business.” It urged the department to explore greater use of privately owned commercial satellites and commercial cloud services while submitting to the OMB a plan to retire or replace “at least one high priority legacy IT system” beginning in 2018.

Many scientists warned that the deep cuts at NOAA could hurt safety as well as academic programs.

Conrad Lautenbacher, a retired vice admiral who was the NOAA administrator under President George W. Bush, said, “I think the cuts are ill timed given the needs of society, economy and the military.” He added, “It will be very hard for NOAA to manage and maintain the kind of services the country requires” with the proposed cuts.

Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator under President Barack Obama, said that 90 percent of the information for weather forecasts comes from satellites. “Cutting NOAA’s satellite budget will compromise NOAA’s mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans,” she said.

Rick Spinrad, a former chief scientist for NOAA, said: “NOAA’s research and operations, including satellite data management, support critical safety needs. A reduced investment now would virtually guarantee jeopardizing the safety of the American public.”

Time-lapse images show Tropical Storm Matthew turning into a hurricane

Embed Share

Play Video0:36
NOAA released a time lapse of satellite imagery from Sept. 27 to Sept. 30 that shows Tropical Storm Matthew moving into the Caribbean Sea, where it became a hurricane. (NOAA)

He said that weather warnings for tornadoes and hurricanes could be compromised and that navigational capacity used to help guide commercial ships and other mariners would suffer, leaving them without the “improved forecasts they need to safely maneuver coastal waters.” It could become harder to warn of tsunamis and forecast weather that will cause power outages.

David Titley, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University who served as NOAA’s chief operating officer in the Obama administration, said that “oddly” the White House budget office, despite the president’s commitment to building infrastructure, would cut NOAA’s budget for ships and satellites. “These cuts will impact good private-sector jobs in the U.S.,” Titley said. “The loss of capability will make America weaker both in space and on the sea — a strange place to be for an administration that campaigned to ‘make America great again.’ ”

Chris Mooney and Abby Phillip contributed to this report.

(LIGHTNING FACTS) These Are Just Some Of The Many Facts That Doctors At The Veterans Administration Hospitals Ignore And Deny!

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘LIGHTNING INJURY RESEARCH PROGRAM’, NOAA, AND MD./PROFESSOR MARY ANN COOPER, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT CHICAGO)

Medical Aspects of Lightning

 

How Big A Problem Is This? Statistics

Lightning has been the second largest storm killer in the U.S. for the last 40 years, exceeded only by floods. A lightning strike can result in a cardiac arrest (heart stopping) at the time of the injury, although some victims may appear to have a delayed death a few days later if they are resuscitated but have suffered irreversible brain damage.

According to Storm Data, a National Weather Service publication, the U.S. averages 73 reported lightning fatalities per year. Due to under reporting, the figures are more realistically about 100 deaths per year. Only about 10% of people who are struck by lightning are killed, leaving 90% with various degrees of disability.

ODDS OF BECOMING A LIGHTNING VICTIM
U.S. 2000 Census population 280,000,000
Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year
(reported deaths + injuries)
1/700,000
Odds of being struck by lightning in a given year
(estimated total deaths + injuries)
1/240,000
Odds of being struck in your lifetime (Est. 80 years) 1/3000
Odds you will be affected by someone being struck
(Ten people affected for every one struck)
1/300

Who Gets Injured

While about one-third of all injuries occur during work, workers compensation companies are often reluctant to acknowledge the injury or pay related medical expenses. About another third of injuries occur during recreational or sports activities. The last third occurs in diverse situation, including injuries to those inside buildings.

How Do Lightning Injuries Affect People?

While any death is a blow to a family, eventually the family readjusts and goes on. However, for those who have a relative who suffers significant disability from lightning, life changes forever and the dreams of that family and the survivor may be markedly altered. The family income may be tremendously decreased if the survivor was one of the breadwinners, or the spouse or another family member may have to quit work to care for the survivor if the disability is great enough.

While about one-third of all injuries occur during work, workers compensation companies are often reluctant to acknowledge the injury or pay their medical expenses. About another third of injuries occur during recreational or sports activities. The last third occurs in diverse situation, including injuries to those inside buildings.  Many injuries in each of these groups can be prevented with proper education, well conceived lightning protection systems that protect the people as well as the equipment being used or �shelters� where the survivor may seek safety, and lightning safety plans for coaches, parents, and referees at sporting events. While lightning safety and injury prevention is an individual responsibility and decision for adults, adults are ALWAYS responsible for the children in their care, particularly if it is an outdoor sports activity such as soccer, t-ball, camping, etc.

Unlike high voltage electrical injuries where massive internal tissue damage may occur, lightning seldom causes substantial burns. In fact, most of the burns are caused by other objects (rainwater, sweat, metal coins and necklaces, etc) being heated up and causing the burn rather than caused by the lightning itself.

Lightning tends to be a nervous system injury and may affect any or all parts of the nervous system: the brain, the autonomic nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system.  When the brain is affected, the person often has difficulty with short-term memory, coding new information and accessing old information, multitasking, distractibility, irritability and personality change. A great quote sums it up perfectly:

“Patients have difficulty in all areas that require them to analyze more items of information than they can handle simultaneously. They present (appear) as slow because it takes longer for smaller than normal chunks of information to be processed. They present as distractible because they do not have the spare capacity to monitor irrelevant stimuli at the same time as they are attending to the relevant stimulus. They present as forgetful because while they are concentrating on point A, they do not have the processing space to think about point B simultaneously. They present as inattentive because when the amount of information that they are given exceeds their capacities, they cannot take it all in.”

Early on, survivors may complain of intense headaches, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), dizziness, nausea, vomiting and other �post-concussion� types of symptoms.  Survivors may also experience difficulty sleeping, sometimes sleeping excessively acutely after the injury but changing during the next few weeks to inability to sleep more than two or three hours at a time. A few may develop persistent seizure-like activity several weeks to months after the injury.  Unfortunately, standard EEG�s do not always pick up injury in the areas that lightning most often affects leading to a diagnosis of �pseudo-seizures�.

Personality Changes / Self-Isolation

Many may suffer personality changes because of frontal lobe damage and become quite irritable and easy to anger. The person who �wakes up� after the injury often does not have the ability to express what is wrong with them, may not recognize much of it or deny it, becomes embarrassed when they cannot carry on a conversation, work at their previous job, or do the same activities that they used to handle. As a result, many self-isolate, withdrawing from church, friends, family and other activities. Friends, family and co-workers who see the same external person, may not understand why the survivor is so different. Friends soon stop coming by or asking them to participate in activities. Families who are not committed to each other break up.

Obviously, depression becomes a big problem for people who have changed so much and lost so much.  Suicide is something that almost all severely injured people have thought about at one time or another.  Occasionally, those who do not have access to medical care or who do not understand what is happening may self-medicate with alcohol and other drugs, particularly those who have previously sought solace with these compounds.  It is very important that the family and friends of the survivor maintain supportive contact even though it requires an adjustment in their relationship with the survivor.  An injury such as this is an injury to the family, not just to the person hit.

Fatigue

Survivors often complain of easy fatigability, becoming exhausted after only a few hours of work. This may be because every task that they used to automatically do without thinking now requires intense concentration to accomplish. Many return to work but find that they cannot multitask and do all of the activities that are required at their job.

Medical Testing

There are two kinds of medical tests:

  • Anatomic ones that take a simple picture (x-ray) or measurement (blood count)
  • Functional ones that show how something is working (PET, neuro-psychological testing, intelligence testing)

Sometimes function can be ascribed to the anatomic tests but often it cannot so that it is often fallacious on the basis of a normal static picture to ascribe normal function.  The mental changes that the lightning survivor has are functional (how the brain works) changes, not anatomic ones so that anatomic tests such as the CT scan and MRI are usually normal. More functional scans such as PET and SPECT may show changes but are hard to obtain due to their relative infrequency in medical centers. To use an analogy:  if an electric shock were sent through a computer, the outside case would probably look okay (similar to a photo or x-rays of the person), the computer boards on the inside would probably look okay and not be fused nor melted (CT, MRI for the person), but when you boot up the computer it would have difficulty accessing files, making calculations, printing, etc. similar to a person with brain injury who has short-term memory problems, difficulty accessing and coding information, difficulty organizing output,

A functional test of how a person�s brain is working that is seldom thought of by most non-neurologists is called neuropsychological testing.  These tests are administered by a qualified neuropsychologist familiar with the literature in this area, not by a psychiatrist, and consist of a 6-8 hour battery of pen and paper tests including memory, IQ, organizational ability, and other �how the parts of the brain are working� kinds of tests.  Survivors of lightning and electrical injury usually have a characteristic pattern of deficits.  This type of testing is expensive and not necessary for most but can sometimes be helpful when litigation is involved and there is a doubt about the cause of a person�s injury.

Delayed Problems

Another common, often delayed problem for some survivors is pain, also a difficult problem to quantify and manage and one that does not always present initially in the full-blown pattern that it may have later. The pain may not only present as the chronic intense headaches mentioned above but may be in the back (perhaps from compression and disc injury from the intense muscle contractions which may throw a person several yards at the time of the injury), or in an extremity. Many may have nerve entrapment syndromes. A small number may eventually develop classic RSD. (Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Sympathetically Mediated Pain Syndrome, causalgia)

Sometimes the functional tests that are ordered are testing the wrong thing an electromyogram (EMG) measures only the largest nerve fibers, the motor fibers, which are seldom affected by lightning injury.  Smaller pain-carrying nerve fibers are not tested by EMG so that a �normal EMG� means little when ordered for someone with pain.  Likewise, the standard EEG does primarily surface readings of the brain and misses seizure activity in several deeper regions.  EEG�s may not pick up only 50% of temporal lobe seizures (some personality, organizing ability) and miss 120% of hypothalamic seizures.4

Lack of libido and impotence are often reported. Other common and not so common complaints involve the digestive system, the endocrine (hormonal) system, and the immune system, some of which are currently being studied. It is not clear if these are directly due to lightning injury, to medication side effects, or to other incidental causes unrelated to lightning.

Help Exists – Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International, Support Group

An organization that has been of tremendous help to survivors, their families, their physicians and other professionals is Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, International (LSESSI), a support group formed in 1989 by a gentleman who was injured in 1969 who became tired of no one recognizing or knowing what to do for those with lightning injury. LSESSI has printed materials, offers tremendous support, networks survivors with others in their area, and provides an annual meeting where survivors come together for support as well as for lectures from professionals who work with lightning and electrical survivors and their families. LSESSI can be reached at 912-346-4708, [email protected], http://www.lightning-strike.org/index.html, or at P.O. Box 1156, Jacksonville, North Carolina 28541-1156.

Four Factors Necessary for Recovery

The four most important factors in overcoming disability from lightning injury (or from any illness or major injury for that matter) are:

  1. A supportive family/friends network.
  2. The person or family becoming their own best advocate and learning as much as they can about their disability.
  3. A physician (regardless of specialty) who is willing to listen, read, learn and work with the survivor and their family.
  4. A sense of humor.

 

Prevention

Far more important than treating survivors is preventing lightning injury.

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

Prevention is the KEY.

 

REFERENCES

 

  1. Holle RL, Lopez RE, Curran EB: Distributions of Lightning-Caused Casualties and Damages Since 1959 in the United States, 11 Conference on Applied Climatology, American Meteorological Society, January 1999
  2. Cooper MA: Lightning Injuries: Prognostic Signs for Death, Ann Emerg Med 9:134, 1980
  3. Lopez RE, Holle RL, Heitkamp TA, Boyson M, Cherington M, Langford K: The Underreporting of Lightning Lnjuries and Deaths in Colorado. Bull Amer Meteor Soc, 74:2171-78, 1993.
  4. Cooper MA, Andrews CJ, Holle RL, Lopez RE: Lightning Injuries, Ch 3, Auerbach P (Ed):  Wilderness Medicine, 4th Edition, CV Mosby, 2001.
  5. Cherington Paper
  6. Life After Shock I, Life After Shock II, collections of stories of lightning and electric shock survivors and how it has changed their lives, Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors, Intntl, Morris Publishing, Nebraska,1996/2000.
  7. Heitkamp, Holle, Lopez
  8. Holle, R.L., R.E. L�pez, and C. Zimmermann, 1999: Updated Recommendations for Lightning Safety-1998.  Bull Amer Meteor Soc, 80:2035-2041
  9. Cherington M, Cooper MA: eds, Seminars in Neurology, Vols 3&4, 1995, two issues on electrical and lightning injuries
  10. Primeau M, Engelstetter G, Bares K: Behavioral Consequences of Lightning and Electrical Injury, Sem Neurol, 15(3):279-285, 1995.
  11. Pliskin NH, Capelli-Schelpfeffer M, Law RT, Malina AC et al: Neuropsychological Symptom Presentation after Electrical Injury, J Trauma 44(4):709-15, 1998
  12. Heilbronner RL, Pliskin NH:Psychological issues in the neurorehabilitation of electrical injuries, NeuroRehabilitation 13:127-32, 1999.
  13. Groenwald D:Cumulative and Persisting Effects of Concussion on Attention and Cognition, 154 (sorry, no further info on this reference is available to us)