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Boss of NASA sensible on global warming

Michael Griffin who has been the top administrator of NASA since 2005 said the following on NPR (see, transcript, blogs, audio):

I have no doubt that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.

I have always believed that the people who actually work with hard sciences and technology simply shouldn't buy a cheap and soft pseudoscientific propaganda such as the "fight against climate change". NASA has been doing many amazing and non-trivial things and they must also be irritated when pseudoscience based on such shaky and unscientific notions is given so much attention - in fact, breathtakingly, more than NASA's space program itself.

The ideology of a "fight against climate change" is based on a whole network of assumptions - dozens of assumptions each of which is highly questionable, to say the least. As long as we are a scientifically inclined society, each of these assumptions should be studied separately because rationally speaking, they are independent.

One of these assumptions says that the current climate is better than a different climate and it should be preserved. It is an arbitrary, irrational assumption that was also recently criticized by Czech president Klaus in his book, among other people.

Needless to say, a different kind of scientists such as NASA's own James Hansen responded in an irritated way. But NASA is not primarily the home of strange scientists who "prove" a 20-meter sea level rise using the concept of scientific reticence.

Antimatter spaceship for Mars missions that the NASA administrator likes (click)

NASA is primarily the home of serious engineers and scientists who are doing some truly impressive stuff - besides the spaceships and devices telling us so much about cosmology, we also find climate-related activities including the stuff about the satellite measurements of temperatures and about cosmic influences on our climate. These are the real sources of NASA's natural authority: James Hansen is not.

The Reference Frame applauds Michael Griffin and encourages him to act as a self-confident boss of a highly prestigious institution. Let me re-emphasize that it is Griffin, not Hansen, who is the boss of NASA and this fact should be taken into account if it turns out that one of them should leave NASA. Any sign of weakness, Dr Griffin, will be used against you. More precisely, I would recommend the boss of NASA to fire Hansen for his despicable comments about his boss as soon as possible.

And that's the memo. (Via Bob Ferguson.)

P.S. So far, Dr Griffin, BS MS MS2 MBA MEng Civil MEng Aerospace PhD is doing very well. For example, they have published the following press release:

  • NASA is the world's preeminent organization in the study of Earth and the conditions that contribute to climate change and global warming. The agency is responsible for collecting data that is used by the science community and policy makers as part of an ongoing discussion regarding our planet's evolving systems. It is NASA's responsibility to collect, analyze and release information. It is not NASA's mission to make policy regarding possible climate change mitigation strategies. As I stated in the NPR interview, we are proud of our role and I believe we do it well.

But Griffin must be ready to act in the same way even if the pressure quintuples. Immoral politicians such as Bart Gordon as well as radical communists will suddenly invent criticisms of NASA's work. If Griffin can resist for three weeks or so, things will be OK.

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snail feedback (4) :

reader ooeat0meoo said...

The Demise of a Great Institution

What is up with NASA taking such political stand on global warming? It's feeling more like global really frikk'in hot, today in the DC area, eh?

For the love of science, I wish Mr. Griffin would read some of the 10's of thousands reports supporting climate change. Mr. Griffin you are politicizing NASA to such an extreme, that when the democrats take the white house the funding will run dry. Is that what you want for science?

Rob B. of DC

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear 00 eat me 00,

Dr Griffin's position is exactly the opposite what you say - it is as apolotical as you can get.

The task for NASA is to do the engineering and use it to learn about science. It has no business whatsoever to invent climate mitigation policies or even determine "optimal" temperatures.

This hard-scientific and technological way of thinking is deeply in their bones which is why they view, much like I do, any attempt to dictate the right parameters of the environment to the mankind of all future generations to be an arrogant thing.

Well, yes, I usually use harsher adjectives than "arrogant".


reader Clothcap said...

Hi Lumo,
Such welcome news. At last. Perhaps some more of the less timorous scientists will take heart and speak out. Alarmism is just taking hold here, (Turkey) cultural knowledge of 10 years hot 10 years cold is hard to bust.
I was slumming in New Scientist for some light reading and found an article re the sea's increasing ability to absorb CO2 by the increasing area of open sea. Looking at that sideways, does that mean since the vikings left we have been deprived of all that CO2 absorbing ability of the sea? No wonder levels have been increasing. Perhaps when the shelves finish melting, the equilibrium will move nearer to equilibrium?
Seems like Skeptical Inquirer has gone alarmist with 2 AGW supporting articles in the May June issue, by the editor no less.
Brains like yours are an essential in combatting extremism. Please take care of yours, we don't know what Icke's lizards have in store for us next.
Back to lurking.

reader Lost Conservative said...

In response to ooeat0meoo, "A lie repeated 10,000 times is still a lie." Common sense (and mother nature) will ultimately prevail. There's little we can do to cause, or stop global warming or global cooling. We would be better served focusing our resources on the best ways to help man adapt to whichever change she throws at us.

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