April Fools? National Science Foundation funded $700,000 climate change musical
The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded nearly $700,000 to The Civilians, Inc., a Brooklyn, NY theatre company, for a play that is described as “a thrilling and timely production” that is “a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us?”
This may be April Fool’s Day, but NSF’s misuse of taxpayer dollars is no joke. I support basic research, which can lead to discoveries that change our world, expand our horizons and save lives. But spending taxpayer dollars to fund a climate change musical called The Great Immensity sounds more like an immense waste of taxpayer dollars - money that could have funded higher priority research. All government employees and their agency heads need to remember they are accountable to the American taxpayer who pays their salary and funds their projects. It is not the governments money; it is the peoples money.
This is not the only questionable research grant funded by the NSF. For example, the agency awarded $220,000 in taxpayer dollars to study animal photos in National Geographic and nearly $350,000 to analyze early human-set fires in New Zealand. Other questionable grants include:
- Ancient Icelandic textile industry (A study exploring gender, textiles and society in Iceland from the Viking Age (ca. 874-1050) until the early 19th century), $487,049
- Do Turkish women wear veils because they are fashionable?, $199,088
- How local Indian politicians can improve their performance, $425,000
- Lawsuits in Peru from 1600 - 1700, $50,000
- Mayan architecture and the salt industry during the Maya Classic period (250-900 AD), $233,141
The Frontiers in Innovation Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act, which the Committee will consider in the coming weeks, prioritizes taxpayer investments in science. Recent reports have pointed to the U.S. falling behind other nations that make targeted investments in research. To remain globally competitive, the FIRST Act ensures priorities are funded and that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. The Act increases transparency and accountability by requiring the NSF to issue summaries of how each grant contributes to the national interest.