Climbing fuel costs have likely been sweet music to climate activists’ ears. But one unexpected downside of the hefty prices is that ocean researchers who study climate change can’t afford to make their trips.
The federal government is scrapping at least four trips for The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and slashing the number of days at sea for research vessels—in 2000, the number was 5,000 days, and it’s now at 4,000 and dropping.
Those given the ax include a cruise to measure the effects of factors like hurricanes, disease, and climate change on marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. In Alaska, a salmon survey in the Bering Sea and a North Pacific marine ecosystem study have both been tossed.
The pinch is being felt across the board, with the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory System scrambling to come up with the more than $7 million needed to power its vessels, some of which burn more than $20,000 of fuel a day. Though given today’s trading results, that’s probably a lowball estimate.