writes "As reported in Wired, a recent National Research Council report indicates a growing concern for NASA, the NOAA, and USGS. While there are currently 22 Earth-observing satellites in orbit, this number is expected to drop to as low as six by the year 2020. The U.S. relies on this network of satellites for weather forecasting, climate change data, and important geologic and oceanographic information.
As with most things space and NASA these days, the root cause is funding cuts. The program to maintain this network of satellites was funded at $2 billion as recently as 2002, but has since been scaled back to $1.3 billion at present, with only two replacement satellites having definite launch dates."Link to Original Source