[July 6, 2014]
This blog post compares a 2012 quote from Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway (from their book Merchants of Doubt) to a 2007 quote from former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.
After my 1981-2011 Honeywell aerospace engineering career, climate change arrived on my radar in late 2011, though earlier I had seen Al Gore’s Academy-award-winning documentary movie An Inconvenient Truth. I heard a few climate change denialists make presentations in a NASA/JSC building. A month later, 3 university professors made climate change presentations in that same building, invited by those same organizers. Of course, the presentations of these university professors were in agreement with the United Nations IPCC, the NASA climate website, and professional science groups such as the American Geophysical Union (AGU). I knew I leaned to believing the second set of those presentations (some of those presentations from those two sessions are available online), but I remained on the fence until October 23, 2012. On that date, PBS Television in the USA showed the Climate of Doubt episode of Frontline, a one-hour TV show of weekly (but not 52 weeks per year) investigative journalism. Frontline featured climate change denialists in their own conference, the 8th conference in a series of climate change denialism, with the Heartland Institute featured prominently. In fact, the 9th conference in that series is now approaching soon (in Las Vegas, as I recall), though I concluded they were canceled after the Frontline broadcast.
Of course, one free source of information to sort this out is Robert Brull’s 2013 report. The Drexel University press release is found by searching the internet for Not Just the Koch Brothers. The report’s title includes the words Institutionalizing Delay. The Heartland Institute is mentioned in that report. The report focuses on the climate change denialism public policy funding from 2003 to 2010, and reports that American conservatives have successfully created controversy from scientific facts about climate change since the Heartland Institute took on the subject of climate change in 1989. Brull also worked with Stanford University on that report. A John Baez website provides high-resolution images of the figures from this Brull report.
Before comparing an Oreskes/Conway quote to a Michael Griffin quote, here is a global warming image file obtained via Wikipedia.
Here is the caption for the image from Wikipedia:
The PBS television show in the USA, Moyers & Company, is excellent, and the related website is www.billmoyers.com. He presents the first few pages of the Oreskes/Conway book Merchants of Doubt in a blog post dated May 16, 2014. I have the Apple iBooks sample, and the very next paragraph contains the Oreskes/Conway quote I wish to present here. The shortest form of this global warming quote is, “First they [Setiz and Singer, and a handful of other scientists who joined forces with think tanks and private corporations to challenge scientific evidence on a host of contemporary issues] claimed there was none, then they claimed it was just natural variation, and then they claimed that even if it was happening and it was our fault, it didn’t matter because we could just adapt to it.”
This is a 2012 book, and I will now compare that last part of that quote to Michael Griffin’s 2007 quote. Here is the Wikipedia article containing the 2007 quote from Michael Griffin, NASA Administrator from 2005 to 2009. Griffin seemed to be in agreement with the above climate change denialist quote, “… even if it [global warming] was happening and it was our fault, it didn’t matter because we could just adapt to it.”
The NASA Earth Observing System satellite fleet started in 1997 and contains about 20 satellites now [Wikipedia], all used for climate change studies. It is painful to know that a NASA Administrator would say that. It requires time for American citizens, including me, to sort out this subject of climate change, but thanks to many sources, including the recent television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, it is now becoming obvious to American citizens.
Here is part of the Griffin quote from that Wikipedia article:
- “I have no doubt that global—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.”
Some climate scientists referred to his remarks as ignorant. In particular, James E. Hansen, NASA’s top official on climate change, said Griffin’s comments showed “arrogance and ignorance”, as millions will likely be harmed by global warming. Jerry Mahlman, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said that Griffin was either “totally clueless” or “a deep antiglobal warming ideologue”.