It may not be acknowledged by many Americans, but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is a critical federal government agency and one that demands its administrator be a “nonpartisan science-based executive.” Going into space, and studying the atmosphere is a scientific endeavor not suitable for an uninformed science denier, particularly one leading NASA.
Naturally, the idiot occupant of the White House has chosen a right-wing extremist and non-scientist to run the NASA because he embraces some positions that Trump admires in his underlings. One of those positions is opposition to science, particularly climate science, and it is one of the primary reasons Trump tapped Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to run NASA.
First, it is important to note that NASA is a huge part of the United States’ climate change research that has aided in proving climate change is as real as the Sun and moon; regardless what Trump or Bridenstine claim. In fact, the Defense Department considers climate change “so real” that they have designated it as a “major threat to national security.” It goes without saying that the DOD relies heavily on climate and atmospheric research conducted by NASA scientists to make a “major national security threat” designation.
Unlike every other NASA administrator before him, Bridenstine is considered an extremely partisan politician void of any scientific credentials whatsoever; and he has no experience in space science. For that reason alone, his choice by Trump was criticized by both Florida Senators Marco Rubio (R) and Bill Nelson (D). Rubio said what the stunned scientific community said after Trump’s announcement:
“I just think his nomination could be devastating for the space program.”
For a little additional background on Bridenstine, and the kind of “credentials” that incited Trump to tap him to run NASA, besides being an extremist member of the House Freedom Caucus (teabaggers), he opposes nearly every government program in existence and wants the IRS eliminated; no tax revenue means no government programs. He is also extremely anti-gay, vehemently opposes same-sex marriage, opposes a woman’s right to choose, says climate change is a hoax and opposes any kind of alternative energy sources. It is that background that appeals to Trump as much as his opposition to science.
It seems glaringly obvious that Trump appointed Bridenstine because he is a fellow climate denier to ensure that NASA steers clear of any atmospheric research related to climate change and the weather. He will likely justify choosing Bridenstine because he serves on the House science committee, but serving on a science committee does not make one a space scientist or an authority on much of anything. In fact, Bridenstine has spent as much time criticizing NASA’s research and well-established atmospheric measurements over decades as he has condemning the LGBT community and criticizing marriage equality.
To get an idea of how dangerous it is to have an ignorant climate denier running a federal agency based around science and research, in 2013, Bridenstine gave a speech on the House floor replete with all the typical “denier talking points.” He stated emphatically:
“Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago. Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.”
After that outrageous display of ignorance, he ended his “uninformed rant” by demanding that President Barack Obama apologize for funding any research into climate science.
Bridenstine’s remarks, like more than one of Trump’s anti-science underlings, contradict well-established science over decades of research around atmospheric and oceanic measurements; much of it coming from NASA’s own research.
In 2010, a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) science brief summarized its recent research and explained:
“A study by GISS climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth. There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”
NASA’s GISS conclusion in 2010 was reiterated in the upcoming 2018 National Climate Assessment. That scientific report concluded that:
“Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change. Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans.”
Thousands of studies conducted by tens of thousands of scientists around the world have documented changes in surface, atmospheric and oceanic temperatures; melting glaciers; disappearing snow cover; shrinking sea ice; rising sea level; and an increase in atmospheric water vapor. … The last few years have also seen record-breaking climate-related weather extremes, as well as the warmest years on record for the entire globe. There are no alternative explanations to human industrial activity being the cause and no natural cycles are found in the observational record that can explain the observed changes in climate.”
Despite that sobering scientific assessment, much of conducted by NASA, Trump opted for a “scientifically illiterate” sycophant to run NASA – likely right into the dustbin.
John Holdren is an environmental scientist and former White House science advisor for the Office of Science and Technology for eight years. He confirmed what scientists and congressional representatives alike have warned about the danger a non-scientist and climate denier leading NASA poses:
“Bridenstine’s stance on climate change reveals him to be a fact-averse, scientifically illiterate ideologue and a danger to NASA’s leadership in space science and Earth science alike.”
It is not just NASA’s leadership that is in jeopardy, everything about American “leadership” has been compromised by Trump and it is no accident that he appoints agency and department heads that hold a worldview contrary to the agencies they are bound and determined to “dismantle.” America under Trump is waning as an economic, trade, diplomatic and scientific research leader and there is plenty of blame to go around. It is important to note that it is not just Trump; Republicans are just as culpable as Trump for quietly acquiescing to his boneheaded style of administration.
Time will tell if they draw a line at a “scientifically illiterate ideologue” running NASA; likely the most science-dependent agency in the federal government.