Funding for the Historical Sciences
Governments should greatly increase their funding for certain historical sciences (archaeology, paleontology, etc,) even, if necessary, at the expense of funding other areas of science. These historical sciences are the most logical for government involvement not only because these sciences deal with the history of peoples and their relationships with each other and with their environments, but also because governments are the single largest entity influencing or controlling the usage of lands. It is the usage and consequential disturbance of lands that causes potentially valuable historical information to be effectively lost forever. Once this kind of information is disturbed or destroyed, it is practically lost forever. With global population at such high levels and with land use becoming ever more extensive and intensive, we cannot calmly afford to permanently lose more information at even a fraction of the current rate without being severely and justly criticized by future generations. The window of opportunity for finding out about the past is perpetually and permanently closing at a speed which is orders of magnitude faster than in any other scientific field of study. In fact, in most other sciences, the discovery of information does not depend on the preservation of the natural environment but rather on the dedication of time and financial resources. Governments around the world must quickly increase their focus and funding for the historical sciences.
Astronomical Funding Priorities
Manned space flight is expensive. Robotic alternatives should be sought for all manned space flights, but especially for any place farther than the moon. Manned programs to Mars and beyond is a clear waste of money. There is absolutely no investigation or data gathering that humans could do on Mars that machines alone cannot do.
The only significant infrastructure that is logical to build on a foreign body is a lunar base, especially on the far side of the Moon. Telescopes built there would enable astronomers to observe virtually at every point in the electromagnetic spectrum without any significant pollution from Earth. Furthermore, such a lunar surface location offers a stable platform, consistently cold temperature (at least for two weeks at a time) and is permanently in earth’s radio shadow. Telescopes could be kept at perpetually low temperatures if they are placed in deep craters near the lunar poles that are permanently shaded from the sun. Temperatures are low enough that active cooling of sensitive detectors may not even be necessary.
The International Space Station should be shut down and the funding diverted to either robotic missions.