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Ex-NASA Employees Accuse Agency of 'Extreme Position' On Climate Change 616

Posted by timothy
from the hi-dr-potocki! dept.
grumpyman writes "A coalition of 49 ex-NASA employees, including seven Apollo astronauts, have accused the U.S. space agency of sullying its reputation by taking the 'extreme position' of concluding that carbon dioxide is a major cause of climate change. Is the claim in this letter opinion or fact?"
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Ex-NASA Employees Accuse Agency of 'Extreme Position' On Climate Change

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  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:51PM (#39661131)

    Yeah, it's great that this is somehow your big issue now. But would it pain you all too much to get together and maybe concentrate on making the U.S. a country capable of putting a man into space again? I mean, debate is great and all, but I'm getting a little creeped-out by the way the Chinese are laughing at us.

    You know things are getting pretty bad when you start longing for the days when a former Nazi was giving NASA moral leadership.

  • by Rei (128717) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:55PM (#39661223) Homepage

    Wow. Because when I want an opinion on climate change, I automatically turn to astronauts, shuttle leading edge system managers, and pogo prevention panel chairs.

  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:58PM (#39661295) Journal
    "Okay, if you want to complain about us doing science, then do it in the methods that science accepts complaints." A letter like this is the equivalent of a toddler stamping its foot because its mother told him that cookies will make him fat.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:59PM (#39661315) Journal

    Yeah, it's great that this is somehow your big issue now. But would it pain you all too much to get together and maybe concentrate on making the U.S. a country capable of putting a man into space again?

    Space is only half of NASA's mission.

  • by scubamage (727538) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:59PM (#39661323)
    Sadly, outside of theatrics going to space doesn't do a whole lot. Plus, NASA can't do much without funding which has been the red headed stepchild of the US budget for decades. Commercial space will probably do more at this point, honestly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:01PM (#39661357)

    "With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled."
    Funny how the chicken little's so easily dismiss all the climate scientists that disagree with the claim that the sky is falling and demonize anyone who attempts to point them out.

  • Re:Did Anyone Else (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:06PM (#39661489)

    CFCs don't make the planet warmer. They deplete the Ozone layer.

  • Maybe a bit far... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Troyusrex (2446430) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:08PM (#39661531)
    but James Hansen, the Head of NASA's Goddard Institute coming out and saying that Oil CEOs should be tried for crimes against humanity for emitting CO2 very much hurts NASA's credibility on science.
  • by wilson_c (322811) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:12PM (#39661621)

    Are any of the signatories to the letter actually climate scientists? I recognize that shuttle engineers and astronauts from 40 years ago are probably interesting people to hang out with, but do they have any personal expertise on which to base their argument? 'cause otherwise it sounds like a bunch of grumpy old dudes whingeing.

  • Ex-NASA employees (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dlapine (131282) <dlapine@ncsa.uPA ... u minus language> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:15PM (#39661689) Homepage

    I take some relief in noting that these are "ex-NASA" employees.

    Per the article, it seems that these guys mostly worked at the Texas-based Johnson space center:

    "Keith Cowing, editor of the website NASA Watch, noted that the undersigners, most of whom have engineering backgrounds, worked almost exclusively at the Houston-based Johnson Space Centre, a facility almost entirely removed from NASA's climate change arm."

    Figures.

    Why is it that there are so many amateur climatologists in Texas who know so much, but publish so little? I wonder if these gentlemen even bothered to visit the site of the "Plants Need CO2" sponsor, Leighton Steward, to see who also agreed with their opinions. I'm not linking to that site, and I'd surely want to avoid association with anyone with ideas like that.

    Maybe Steward just punked them. Yep, that's go to be it.

  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:16PM (#39661719) Homepage

    "Funny how the chicken little's so easily dismiss all the climate scientists that disagree with the claim that the sky is falling and demonize anyone who attempts to point them out."

    What's funny how all those alleged "climate scientists" cited in this letter have yet to publish a single paper that contradicts the consensus view that global warming is real and man-made: "That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords “climate change... Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position." -- http://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full [sciencemag.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:16PM (#39661723)

    You believe the inventor of the Internet when he says there's global warming, so we all assumed you'd believe anyone on pretty much anything.

  • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:20PM (#39661817) Journal

    Plus, NASA can't do much without funding which has been the red headed stepchild of the US budget for decades.

    Right! I think NASA has figured out that Global Warming will get you government funding. "We need more satellites to study Global Warming!"

  • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:23PM (#39661889) Homepage

    > What's funny how all those alleged "climate scientists" cited in this letter have yet to publish a
    > single paper that contradicts the consensus view that global warming is real and man-made:

    On NPR it was pointed out that when Einstein published his work on relativity, similar "Statement by X number of scientists" statements came out. His reply, which I think is an absolutely appropriate and correct application of "the stink test" was simply to point out that in the scientific realm, it only takes one person with a cogent argument to disprove something. Science is not an exercise in consensus.

  • Burn the heretic! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Petron (1771156) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:25PM (#39661911)
    I like it when science can be challenged, reviewed. When theories can be questioned. When models can be tested and retested with out being called a heretic and locked in a dungeon until you conform.

    If I question BFSS model in M-Theory, people consider it scientific, and willing to debate and explore alternate theories.
    If I question the carbon model in global warming theory, people claim it's unscientific, and continue ad hominem attacks.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:25PM (#39661923) Homepage

    Cause actually carbon dioxide isn't all that strong of a greenhouse gas.

    True, but the sheer magnitude of CO2 release dwarfs other greenhouse gasses. Further, it's not just the amount of CO2 (or water vapor which is another 'greenhouse gas' or methane) it's the rate of change of the concentration.

    Yes CO2 can be 'useful' and plants like it. Yes, the planet had higher concentrations of CO2 in the past.

    The big issue is whether or not a significant fraction of the human (and since we're an apex predator, everybody else's) population is at risk for near term major perturbations in the population's health and well being due to changes in climate that are in part due to rapidly rising CO2 levels which are most likely man made.

  • by demachina (71715) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:28PM (#39662005)

    It should be noted they are mostly at JSC, which is in Houston, Texas, which is the home base of America's oil and gas industry. Based purely on geography they are located in the focal point of denial that fossil fuels are contributing to global warming.

    I wouldn't be particularly suprised if its also a partisan effort to pander to the Republican party. Obama hasn't been particularly kind to JSC's funding or future prospects so I'm guessing they are hoping for a Romney win this fall, and for Republicans to retake the Senate. Its a gamble but if that happens, then they can tout their vocal support for the Republican party's position on climate change when they go to D.C. with their hat in hand for new funding. Presambly funding for some manned launcher that will put billions in their coffers, provide them with job security for a few years and which they will probably fail to actually build or launch.

  • by Raul654 (453029) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:32PM (#39662075) Homepage

    "it only takes one person with a cogent argument to disprove something." -- Wrong. It takes empirical evidence, not a cogent argument. The consensus view that the earth is getting warmer is backed by literally hundreds of published papers each of which cite physical evidence, measurement, models, etc. If there was a case to be made that the consensus view is wrong, there would have to be *some* evidence out there somewhere that contradicts the consensus view. There is not, and that' is why there are no papers describing it.

  • by superwiz (655733) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:33PM (#39662101) Journal
    The counter-argument presented in the post states that the signatories of the letter are not "climate scientists." Well, this argument holds about as much water as the argument that NASA is not a climate agency. Climate research encompasses efforts which require expertise in a number of sciences. When anyone with an expertise in one of the necessary science branches decides to weigh in on arguments, it makes no sense to outright dismiss him as a non-climate-scientist. In fact, it seems like the only ones defending this AGW position are those blessed by the priesthood of the climate scientists or members of the media. Well, if you dismiss an astro-physicist weighing in on results of temperature distribution studies (as seen from space) because he is not a "climate scientist", why listen to NASA which is not a "climate agency"?
  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:33PM (#39662107)
    On the other hand, the seminal works on the principles of the greenhouse effect and global warming are out for about 130 years now and no one has offered the slightest bit of scientific evidence to the contrary.
  • by starfishsystems (834319) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:33PM (#39662109) Homepage
    The first question I ask myself is to what extent it's proper for NASA to engage with public politics. (Of course survival requires it to play politics all the time, but my question is about influencing public debate.)

    If NASA's function is to study climate change, then of course it has a duty to report its findings. The ethics are straightforward, but they don't apply here. However, NASA does have scientific and technical expertise which may qualify it, or even oblige it, to share its knowledge with the public, especially as NASA receives substantial public funding.

    Also, NASA's prominence in the aerospace industry should make it especially conscientious concerning adverse effects of that industry. And aerospace is a significant contributor to greenhouse emissions. So again, it has an ethical obligation to inform itself about the effect of such emissions on climate change, and to share its findings.

    As to whether or not NASA is taking the correct position, that's really a secondary question. Certainly NASA is saying nothing controversial in warning about climate change. It's an altruistic position, in line with most of the scientific community. Conversely, it would be at least moderately suspicious if NASA were to dismiss the issue as unimportant, given that this position is directly self-serving.

    Now, a group of people want to disagree with NASA on this issue, that's fine. We can let their claims stand on their own merits, while noting what company they keep with what vested interests. But calling to silence NASA is just plain inappropriate.
  • by steveg (55825) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:40PM (#39662247)

    So where are the papers presenting these cogent arguments?

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:42PM (#39662277)

    True. The point here is though that Einstein's work was quickly pored over and accepted first by theoretical physicists as at least mathematically correct, if odd, and then by experimental physicists as tests became possible.

    Ten years after Einstein first published his papers on Special Relativity, the theory was basically accepted as sound. Even in the first few years, follow-up work done by others did a lot to solidify the math behind the theory. In short, there is always the goal in science of upending the consensus: it's the quickest way to immortality. However, scientific consensus quickly builds up around ground-breaking theories that are testable, have predictive value and that are mathematically sound.

    Arguing that the scientific consensus might be wrong about AGW now is like arguing in 1925 that scientific consensus about Special Relativity might be wrong: you're welcome to try it, but it's going to take real work to be taken seriously.

    While scientific discoveries are by definition going against current scientific consensus, science-based policy, engineering and decision-making by definition relies on the latest scientific consensus. To argue that going with scientific consensus when planning into the future is wrong is fundamentally misunderstanding how science works.

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:45PM (#39662339)

    They were not very conservative.
    Bush I did not like. Patriot act, deficit spending, creation of homeland security and the TSA.
    He trampled all over our constitution, spent buttloads of cash and created no security,
    The only thing worse than what Bush did is what Obama is doing.

  • by benjfowler (239527) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:46PM (#39662377)

    These rather lame, piss weak dilettantes are STILL trying their old standbys, like petitions, public debates and what not, because it's "demuuuuucracy, it's Amuuuuuurican, derp derp", and that somehow, the (political) opinions of a million clueless, uneducated fuckwits transcends the truth staring us in the face -- that the Earth's climate it warming, it's caused by humans, and that it's going to cost us big time if we don't do something about it.

    I see shades of the Nobel Syndrome here. The far Right aren't very bright as a group, and use -- and are sucked in by -- obvious logical fallacies, like appealing to authority.

    It's an obvious far-right wing culture war stunt by a pack of idiots and cranks, and likely encouraged (and paid for) by self-interested idiots and cranks.

    See, if you repeat a lie often enough, and if you can borrow some fake credibility ("I worked for NASA, I'm so intelligent and authoritive"), then you can pass off any piece of shoddy political propaganda as unvarnished fact.

    P.S: righties, libertoons and Randroids, don't bother trying to fisk or debunk climate change here. No amount of regurgitated right wing talking points will change the fact that you are all shamefully, hopelessly WRONG on everything and anything to do with climate change.

  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:50PM (#39662445)

    They would but 49 members of the engeniering branch, with no climate experience, quit and now work for a non-profit with ties in to the coal industry. Oh they also wote the letter in question for the article.

    There it is. "Oooo, but there's seven (former) astronauts in the group. Astronauts are experts, right?" And the scary part is a whole lot of climate deniers will actually think this transparent bullshit actually adds to their argument.

  • What the fuck does any of this shit have anything to do with spaceships? That's a job for diplomats, not the goddamned National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's in the goddamned name! They should be working on either space, planes, or fucking planes that go into fucking space!

    Right now the only thing breaking the stratosphere is my goddamned blood pressure.

  • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:54PM (#39662533)

    mainstream scientists take money from government grants and related sources, meaning their very livelihood depends on the reverse

    If you could produce data that disproved a major current theory, you'd be in line for a Nobel Prize. Not to mention, millions in funding from the oil industry, Fox TV, etc, etc. There are a lot more financial incentives in being a denialist than just producing boring data that supported the global warming hypothesis. .

  • by SashaMan (263632) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:54PM (#39662537)

    I definitely think it's a valid criticism that NASA has it's priorities wrong. However, it should be noted that the above comment if from an interview with Al Jazeera - it seems clear to me that Mr. Bolden was tailoring these remarks to the Al Jazeera audience. Again, it's fine to argue that this is wrong regardless, but context does matter. Judge for yourself:

    http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/2010/07/201071122234471970.html [aljazeera.com]

  • by Oh Gawwd Peak Oil (1000227) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:05PM (#39662779)

    They were not very conservative.

    No True Scotsman fallacy. There are many millions of people (mostly religious types) in this country who supported Bush, still do, and identify both themselves and Bush as conservative. If they thought he was anything else they wouldn't support him.

  • by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:10PM (#39662859)

    A layer of paint is typically 1/8 of a millimeter thick, and is close to 100 opaque to visible light. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere amounts to 4 kg per square meter. If condensed, it would be a layer 2.6 millimeters thick, or 20 times thicker than a paint layer. It should not be hard to understand a layer that thick being able to absorb a significant amount of infrared light. The fact that it is distributed vertically does not change the absorbing power of the molecules, you still have the same number per unit area to run into.

    Expressing the numbers as percentages is a way to make them seem small, and ignores the fact that the whole atmosphere has a mass of 10.3 tons per square meter, and would be about 9 meters thick if condensed. It's fairly amazing that thickness only absorbs about 27% of total incoming sunlight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:12PM (#39662887)

    -Lets start with extending the bush tax cuts.
    -Extending the patriot act
    -prosecuting whistle blowers
    -signing the NDAA
    -Signing HR 347 - yes, it had a veto proof majority but he should have, on principle, forced them to vote it in to overcome his veto. Instead he just went along and signed it.
    -the most recent housing relief - which has done nothing to fix the problem
    -not prosecuting the banks for the current issues with housing - yes he has the power to do this. The DOJ is part of the executive branch
    -Fast and Furious - why have no heads rolled for this?
    -Approving the assassination of US citizens without due process - maybe the dude deserved it but that's not how this country is supposed to work.
    -healthcare law that does nothing to address the cost of healthcare- just shifts the cost burden to other places. How about figuring out why its so expensive and doing something about that?
    -healthcare law that is touted as preventing people from being denied insurance for pre-existing conditions - but what it does in fact is force insurance to cover such individuals but allowing them to deny coverage/funds for those pre-existing conditions. In other words, mostly but not fully useless.
    -Solyndra
    -added eleventy billion trillion dollars to the debt. But more like 4-6 trillion.
    -not holding the federal reserve to their lawful mandate
    -established credit card bill of rights that has only had the effect of increasing the expense of credit cards.
    -Promised Change and provided more of the same as what has gone before -actually and is actually worse.

  • by hey! (33014) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:14PM (#39662927) Homepage Journal

    Nor were they true Scotsmen.

  • by j-beda (85386) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:17PM (#39662979) Homepage

    And how many of those aren't taking money from the coal, oil or other industries whose very livelihood depends on them downplaying the evidence?

    How many AGW proponents don't stand to profit heavily off of "green" jobs bills, carbon credits, cap and trade, etc.?

    I doubt very much that any climate scientist is likely to profit heavily from "jobs bills, carbon credits, cap and trade, etc." Local politicians, business people, lobbyists, etc. might be able to benefit from some of these things - but working scientists? Tenured academics already have pretty secure lifetime employment. Perhaps we could imagine a few who might be better off individually if the science was one way rather than the other, but the majority of them have little financial stake in the result of the scientific studies one way or another.

  • by jeff4747 (256583) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:47PM (#39663677)

    ...Are you seriously arguing that the money's on renewable energy's side?

    Please seek medical attention. In the meantime, go take a look at Exxon/Mobil's profits for the last 5 years.

  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:21PM (#39664345)

    Well, here's the thing: these people are not making an argument in scientific circles, they are making a public appeal to a public servant to change what the agency he is in charge of is doing.

    As a result, the only thing that the petitioners have that adds weight to their argument is their authority in the field. That means that it is entirely valid to look at their authority in that field, conclude it is close to zero, and refer them to reframe their objections in scientific traditions - i.e. to publish their objections to the science in peer-reviewed journals.

    The problem isn't so much that the petitioners are being dismissed as non-climate-scientists. It is that the petitioners are trying to leverage authority in one field to argue from authority in a completely different field. No one bats an eye if an engineer wants to publish a paper in a journal. But if they want to be taken at their word, they better make sure their credentials are in order. And while 2-3 of the petitioners could pass as authorities on climate science (even in a limited scope), the rest really don't.

    And that's why they're being told STFU and publish.

  • by s_p_oneil (795792) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:36PM (#39664635) Homepage

    Umm, weather satellites are spaceships. And NASA doesn't just build airplanes and spaceships, they also study the planets/moons in our solar system that those spaceships can reach. Earth being the closest of those planets, it's the cheapest and easiest to study. This helps NASA perfect space technologies in a more cost-effective way, which makes the spaceships that actually go somewhere else more likely to succeed (and less likely to waste tons of money). As an added bonus, the Earth is the only planet in our solar system capable of sustaining human life, so studying the Earth itself is way more useful to those human life forms than studying the lifeless rocks that surround it in space.

  • Not True Yet (Score:5, Insightful)

    by turkeyfish (950384) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:55PM (#39664993)

    That not really true yes. Although methane is about 37 times more potent a green house gas than carbon dioxide, the concentration in the atmosphere is still so very small that the effect of carbon dioxide predominates. However, as more clathrates sublime that probably won't be true in 100-200 years time given its ultimate effect on forcing.

    If you look at the recent coring data its abundantly clear that carbon dioxide increases preceded both warming and methane ending the last ice age, which is what you would expect if carbon dioxide provides the trigger. This is precisely what is being seen now. Methane is only now starting to outgas excessively in the permafrost and under the Arctic ocean as the temperatures have warmed sufficiently enough to start the sublimation process of existing methane clathrates. The problem now is that as carbon dioxide continues to climb there is no way to reverse the cocking the trigger on the clathrate gun. By letting carbon dioxide rise, we are effectively pulling the trigger.

    The really scary thing is that from the onset of the height of the last ice age to its end carbon dioxide only increased carbon dioxide concentrations went from about 220-300. Whereas, within only the past 100 years we have gone from about 320-almost 400 and are on track to reach 500 by the end of this decade at current rates of accumulation. This is about 1000 times faster than the spike seen in the Middle Eocene Thermal Maximum, the most rapid rise in temperatures recorded in prehistoric times. This means that we are already experiencing the warmest climate in recorded history and we have problem even though we have not yet begun to feel the full effects of the amount of carbon dioxide that has recently accumulated. If you think it got hot in West Texas last year. Just wait a few years and it will be that way in Kansas City far to the north.

    When one realizes that the past 15 years have produced all the top 10 warmest years and now the first quarter of 2012 is the hottest on record once again (by >5F), there's little or no point at further debating if there is global warming, only the question now is what are we going to do about it, other than face almost certain extinction within 200-300 years time?

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:15PM (#39665337)

    How is this modded 5 insightful? This is the mentality of a code monkey buried in a corporate basement somewhere while the world whips past above him. There aren't many industries or careers that exist in a vacuum. Like it or not, lack of outreach is the reason NASA's budget and projects are ripe for plundering in Congress; because a lot of people think of them as expendable until they look up 10 years later and see the Chinese kicking our asses in the space race.

    Hell, even pro athletes are smart enough to know they've got to go out into the communities they live in and do charity work and outreach to build up positive PR for their respective leagues.

    You go on thinking all you need to worry about is that lump of C code sitting in your lap. That's why the damned suits have turned so many IT guys into dissociated lackeys.

  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:38PM (#39665745)

    Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee. Not cash, a guarantee that let them borrow at a lower interest rate that we now have to pay back.

    In one quarter, Exxon Mobil made 17 times more money than Solyndra's loan guarantee.

    Except that taxpayers aren't on the hook to repay Exxon/Mobil profits.

    Taxpayers ARE, however, on the hook to repay a loan guarantee (a few of them, actually...LightSquared, among many, anyone?) that is nothing more nor less than a payoff in very thin disguise to an Obama campaign contributor, as are many other similar loan guarantees to "green energy" companies.

    Strat

  • by Moryath (553296) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:42PM (#39665819)

    Standard retardican false logic in action. It follows the affirming the consequent [philosophicalsociety.com] logical fallacy - ""if A, then B; B, therefore A."

    The normal way to test a consequent is to apply the testable quantity. For instance:
    Problem: I need boiling hot water for tea.
    If (A), heat is applied to water, (B) it begins to boil.
    Therefore, (A) placing a pot of cold water on a stove's lit burner will (B) cause the water to boil.

    The reverse, however, does not follow. And here is how the retardicans phrase it:
    Problem: Climate change affecting a wide variety of
    If (A) human behavior is causing global warming, then (B) we should enact sensible environmental and energy reforms (carbon limits, wean off of fossil fuels towards geothermal/nuclear/solar, etc).
    Republican fallacious reply: "(B) We should not (insert environmental reform here) therefore (a) human behavior is not causing global warming."

    And that, in a nutshell, is why the climate deniers are full of shit. Their position is 100% logical fallacy.

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:59PM (#39666095)

    Yeah, but you forgot to mention that next to climate models, general relativity is a dead simple theory. These days, bright high school students can completely master it. The climate, on the other hand, is a gigantic non-linear system with feedback effects and uncertain inputs. One chronic mistake that smart physicists and engineers always make is that they underestimate the complexity of the climate. The old joke is that if you ask a physicist how best to milk a cow, he'll start his answer with "OK, let's assume a spherical cow homogenously filled with milk." The point is that if you do that kind of thing, you can't have too much confidence in your solution. (Physics is comparably simple, so there you can, but you can't import these heuristics to a messy subject like climate science.)

    That's how physicists and engineers can become know-it-alls about things which are actually far more complicated than anything they're willing to appreciate.

  • by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:02PM (#39666119) Homepage Journal
    As opposed to the champions of the AGW crowd, Al Gore (Political Science degree and a Law degree) and the IPCC's Pachurri ( railroad engineer) who are clearly far more qualified in climate science...
  • by StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:34PM (#39666631)

    Give a republican party who's stated primary goal it to make Obama a one term president, and the unprecedented use of the filibuster to block any progress and judicial nominations, and handed a depression from the previous administration and the Tarp debt and the need for additional stimulus spending to stop the free falling economy, I would say Obama has done a wonderful job and actually got some legislation passed that will do good. The auto industry was saved with all those jobs, pre-existing conditions are starting to be covered, many millions of people can now get coverage that they could not before. It is a start. It used to be that the Insurance companies could cherry pick their clients, and if you suddenly had a medical expense, find all possible ways to deny coverage, just to make a buck.

    Health care and hospitals should not be for profit. It doesn't work and is why things are so expensive, that and the fact that so many people are outside the system but we have to (and should) give them care when needed. (It's the Christian thing to do).

    One company that was given load guarantee's ( I don't think Solyndra got money, just loan guarantees) is one of a number of companies that are being supported towards that goal of energy independence. A worthy goal. If you think all businesses have to survive, your not living in the real world, this is just used as a right wing talking point to try to achieve that primary goal (listed above).

    The idea that government picks winners is bogus. The winners or shall I say whiners are the ones benefiting from the governments support of oil and agriculture. You don't think banks with loans or private capital groups don't do the exact same thing?

    And if you think SS is a ponzy scheme, you proably think your money is really in the bank too.

    Wake up and vote your own best interests.

  • by demachina (71715) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:28PM (#39668321)

    NASA has had a mission for a long time to do earth observation. Its a primary mission for many of the satellites they've put in earth orbit, though they have some heavy overlap with NOAA.

    NASA also routinely fly airplanes to study the atmosphere, beleive it or not aeronautics is intimately involved with . . . air. They model the atmosphere in great detail for flight simulation and to develop vehicles for reentering the atmosphere or to travel through the atmosphere at high speeds.

    You may also recall that NASA and Goddard were pretty heavily involved in understanding, monitoring and finding the solution for the increasingly large holes in the ozone layer, which if they hadn't been fixed would have lead to catastrophic results due to increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation, skin cancers in particular.

    I'm seldom one to defend NASA but their involvement in studying climate change is entirely within the charter of parts of NASA, especially Goddard. Its a lot more appropriate for the people at Goddard to be studying global warming than it is for a bunch of glory hounds from JSC to be bitching about it. It should be pointed out that JSC has done very little of actual value since Apollo. Launching and repairing Hubble is one of the few exceptions. ISS and most of the rest of the Space Shuttle program have been an enormous squandering of money to no particularly good end.

  • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @09:31PM (#39668351)

    Some of know that in Washington a 'gaffe' is when someone accidentally speaks the truth.

    So prove it. How much of the NASA budget ended up going to muslim outreach? The answer is almost precisely, none. All this is no more than whining about one empty statement somebody once made. It's absurd.

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