Oh. My. God. NASA is at it again... No minor functionary grappling with half-understood metaphors, today; no, no, this morning we bring you none other than NASA Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Michael Griffin.
Now I will pull out the relevant exerpts here, but you really need to hear the actuality of this guy talking on NPR's Morning Edition. Hear him wrestle with a long expected question that he is vainly hoping won't come.
For context, Griffin was answering criticism from a writer who was questioning NASA's emphasis on manned space flight and a new Moon/Mars program, which has left Earth Science programs in NASA looking for loose change in the cushions of the break room couches...
"Q. It has been mentioned that NASA is not spending as much money as it could to study climate change — global warming — from space. Are you concerned about global warming?So let me get this straight...
A. I'm aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I'm also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is man made. Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can't say.
Q. Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?
A. 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. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, 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.
Q. Is that thinking that informs you as you put together the budget? That something is happening, that it's worth studying, but you're not sure that you want to be battling it as an army might battle an enemy?
A. Nowhere in NASA's authorization, which of course governs what we do, is there anything at all telling us that we should take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another. We study global climate change, that is in our authorization, we think we do it rather well. I'm proud of that, but NASA is not an agency chartered to, quote, battle climate change."
We know global warming is a man made problem, and NASA's answer is "sorry, it's not my job, man..." Shorter Griffin: "Because Fuck You! That's Why!"
Hate to burst yer bubble, bubba, but it is in fact yer job.
I am sorry to be such a picker of nits, but when the Executive Freekin' Director of NASA does not understand the actual law that created and enables his agency, then I feel more than a little obliged to set the record straight.
I would direct Mr. Griffin to his own fnorking web site, where we find Public Law 85-568, also known as the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958. In the very first section of the very first section, we find Congress expounding on the reason for creating NASA, where they say, ex-plicit-lee:
(d) The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be conducted so as to contribute materially to one or more of the following objectives: (1) The expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space;[...]That's the very first policy goal outlined in the enabling legislation for NASA.
Then, of course there is the entirety of Title IV of the act, which is all about NASA's responsibility for Earth Science:
So you see, Mr. Griffin, it really kinda is yer job to study the Earth relative to it's "chemical and physical" integrity.TITLE IV--UPPER ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH
Sec. 401. (a) The purpose of this title is to authorize and direct the Administration to develop and carry out a comprehensive program of research, technology, and monitoring of the phenomena of the upper atmosphere so as to provide for an understanding of and to maintain the chemical and physical integrity of the Earth's upper atmosphere.
And also, you absolutely have to love, "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."
Yeah, because who are we to say the increasing drought, crop failure, weather extremes are necessarily bad things...
You know, it's not like political tools like Griffin surprise me anymore. But it doesn't make their ignorant pronouncements any less easy to swallow. For the guy in charge of NASA to go on a national radio news program and pronounce that NASA has no responsibility for participating in the science of global climate change is simply stoopid on a level that makes me question Griffin's very reality.
If this was a Turing test, he would have failed.
At the very least, he fails the "drooling idiot" test. But such is the legacy of an administration that has elevated political cronyism to an art form not seen since the Stalin era of the Soviet Union.
We need scientists... we get politically reliable monkeys. Of course, we all know that reality has that well documented liberal bias...
[Update 1.o] Apparently, we here at the Mojowire were not the only ones who caught that bravura performance by the dancing monkey yesterday. Scientists all over NASA are grimacing and shaking their heads today and calling for Griffin's resignation. In particular noted climate scientist James Hansen had some unkind words for Griffin.
NASA's official PR person's response: "It's NPR's fault for asking Griffin questions about global warming..." Which I guess is true enough...