Thursday, May 31, 2007

The President's Space Program: the Strangeness of Science and Politics

In part of a peculiar interview of Michael Griffin on NPR this morning, the NASA administrator argued that although global warming was real and that mankind is responsible for 'much' of it, he questioned whether or not it was a long-term concern or a problem with which we need wrestle. He had other comments about who are we to decide what is an optimum climate, etc. The transcript and audio of that interview can be found here. FWIW, I recommend that you go and listen to it for yourself.

After listening to the whole interview, my impression is that Mr. Griffin is quite the slippery politician and just a bit of a doormat. The thing I really focused on was his use of the word 'much'. The neat thing about 'much' is that it is neither 'all' nor 'none'. There is no way to tell from Mr. Griffin's statement if human impact is closer to 1% or 99% of global warming. By using 'much', he may have convinced a few climate scientists and a fair amount of the public that he thinks global warming is real, but he qualified the impact of global warming by indicating that maybe it wasn't as bad as some people think and who are we to decide what qualified a decent global temperature, which I assume was said to placate the White House. In other parts of the interview he was being equally vague.

The news media seems to be making a big deal over this story, but I think the basic gist of Mr. Griffin's statements is that he would really like to keep his job. How he really feels about global warming and the direction NASA is going in is probably only discernable through the use of a fair amount of sodium pentothal and maybe waterboarding.


Anonymous mike dhupp said...

Ny own suspician is that Griffin is trying to dispell any illusion folks may have that somehow NASA all by itself can "fix" global warming. Particularly if the fixing is supposed to be done by a rather small government agency with other issues on its plate.


June 01, 2007 1:23 PM  
Blogger bill said...

I think I heard that too, and agree that NASA is in no position to "fix" global warming. That is unless we decide to shoot huge rockets full of burning sulfur into the upper atmosphere in order to kick off global cooling. NASA could certainly do that! :)

June 01, 2007 2:05 PM  
Blogger Dune Messiah said...

I personally dont believe that NASA with its miniscule budget (compare it to whatever you biases allow you to) can actually fix the very real global warming problem, but I do expect them to work on it, make it a priority, and scream to whoever will listen that this is a problem that we need to address. Cheney sending humans to Mars (W's grand plan), that's just "look over there, nothing to see here".

June 05, 2007 6:56 AM  

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