Defend Our Future, an environmental group at Colorado State University, discussed the implications of budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday evening.
Dr. Emily Fischer, assistant professor in the department of atmospheric sciences, and Dr. Jeffery Pierce, associate professor in the department of atmospheric sciences, were part of the press conference held by Defend Our Future in order to discuss the budget cuts.
These cuts will directly impact funding for research on college campuses, including the research of both Fischer and Pierce.
According to Fischer, the EPA identifies issues of interest, then looks to the universities to research these issues.
“I do this work because it’s interesting,” Fischer said. “I have two small children who live in the state of Colorado and I am concerned about what air they will be breathing as they grow up.”
Fischer is currently researching meteorological uncertainty in predictions of fire and dust, and how it is affected by climate change.
“We can’t predict perfectly the future, and so our work is aimed at understanding how well we understand the future,” Fischer said.
Fischer said this research is especially relevant to Coloradans as fires have a negative impact on air quality. She is also looking into what the Western United States’ air quality will look like in the future as the result of dust and wildfires.
Dr. Pierce’s research focuses on residential burning of solid fuels and its impact on health and climate.
“Many of these homes don’t have chimneys, so these houses fill with smoke,” Pierce said. “So if we can improve either the fuels people are burning in their homes, can we save lives by not exposing people to smoke in their home?”
Pierce said dark smoke has a warming effect on climate, while lighter smoke can have a cooling effect on the climate. While these effects are somewhat uncertain, Pierce’s research intends to test different types of fuel burning to characterize different types of smoke.
“Many people suspect that if the fires did have a warming effect, if we reduce the amount of smoke not only could we improve people’s health, but by reducing the warming smoke we could have a net cooling effect on the climate,” Pierce said.
Pierce has done both field work to measure real-world changes in concentration and modeling to determine how changing the types of emissions will impact the general population with the help of the EPA’s funding.
President Trump’s budget cuts to the EPA for 2018 slashed the previous year’s budget by $528 million, nearly seven percent.