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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 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 RoccamOccam (953524) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:06PM (#39661495)
        Or less!

        When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering. -- Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator

        • 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 Talderas (1212466) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @04:29PM (#39664503)

            I apologize, but I must simply parse this most excellent post.

            They should be working on fucking planes that go into fucking space!

            Thanks to the wonderful diversity of the word fuck, I believe there are at least three acceptable interpretations of this sentence.

            1. The engineers should be fucking planes that go into space.
            2. The engineers should be creating planes that are capable of going into space and are capable of fucking people or things.
            3. The engineers should be creating planes that go into space.

          • 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.

          • 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 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 timeOday (582209) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:14PM (#39666323)
            Perhaps more to the point, the Obama administration immediately corrected Bolden and a NASA spokesman confirmed that Bolden had misspoke:

            "NASA's core mission remains one of space exploration, science and aeronautics," Michael Cabbage told SPACE.com. "Administrator Bolden regrets that a statement he made during a recent interview mischaracterized that core mission."

            Anybody who still recites this incident as anything more than a gaffe induced by peer pressure, which was immediately retracted, is just trolling.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DesScorp (410532)

        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.

        The other half is "outreach to the Muslim world" [informationweek.com]. Priorities, man, priorities.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by scubamage (727538)
      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 @02:00PM (#39661343)

      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.

      • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:13PM (#39661657)
        Or even scientists, "Most are not even scientists in the sense that they have pursued scientific research during their careers, in any discipline."

        Ah lobbyists, is there anything they won't say...
      • by Baloroth (2370816) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:19PM (#39661793)

        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.

        False, unless you have a different source from TFA. The letter was organized by someone from that non-profit. There is no indication whatsoever that all or the majority of the individuals who signed it are otherwise affiliated with that organization (Plants Need C02). Also, only most of them had engineering backgrounds, not all (one of them at least was a meteorologist). Link [plantsneedco2.org] to fill text and signatories.

        Spreading falsehoods is not the way to invalidate climate change deniers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jawnn (445279)

        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.

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I think most people have concluded that it's just not worth the extreme expense of supporting a fragile life form in space. The actual science that human space travelers have done is miniscule and has reached only trivial conclusions. It's just not worth it.
      Space exploration without humans, on the other hand, has been able to travel far greater distances and perform genuinely useful science and has returned great benefit for the much smaller investment.

    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:45PM (#39662337)
      Hey guys, STFU and build a rocket

      Moron. NASA isn't about making fireworks. its about putting things into space. Like WEATHER SATELLITES that give us the data that this is all about. And the analysing it, which is wha the denialits are trying to bury under a pile of irrelevant shit. And, from TFA:

      The 49-person letter was organized by Leighton Steward, chairman of Plants Need CO2, a non-profit with ties to the coal industry. ...âoeWhat these men and women are not is climate scientists,â wrote Houston-based science writer Eric Berger in a Wednesday blog post. âoeMost are not even scientists in the sense that they have pursued scientific research during their careers, in any discipline.â

      Funny how the submitter omitted that. Astronauts aren't climate scientists. They're being cited as celebrities, not scientists.

  • If It Is Fact ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:51PM (#39661137) Journal

    Is the claim in this letter opinion or fact?

    Well, from the letter itself [plantsneedco2.org]:

    March 28, 2012
    The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.
    NASA Administrator
    NASA Headquarters
    Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

    Dear Charlie,

    We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. 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.

    The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA's history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

    As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA's advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA's current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

    For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

    Thank you for considering this request.

    Sincerely,

    (Attached signatures)

    CC: Mr. John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator for Science
    CC: Ass Mr. Chris Scolese, Director, Goddard Space Flight Center

    Ref: Letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, dated 3-26-12, regarding a request for NASA to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims that human produced CO2 is having a catastrophic impact on climate change.

    /s/ Jack Barneburg, Jack - JSC, Space Shuttle Structures, Engineering Directorate, 34 years
    /s/ Larry Bell - JSC, Mgr. Crew Systems Div., Engineering Directorate, 32 years
    /s/ Dr. Donald Bogard - JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 41 years
    /s/ Jerry C. Bostick - JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 23 years
    /s/ Dr. Phillip K. Chapman - JSC, Scientist - astronaut, 5 years
    /s/ Michael F. Collins, JSC, Chief, Flight Design and Dynamics Division, MOD, 41 years
    /s/ Dr. Kenneth Cox - JSC, Chief Flight Dynamics Div., Engr. Directorate, 40 years
    /s/ Walter Cunningham - JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 7, 8 years
    /s/ Dr. Donald M. Curry - JSC, Mgr. Shuttle Leading Edge, Thermal Protection Sys., Engr. Dir., 44 years
    /s/ Leroy Day - Hdq. Deputy Director, Space Shuttle Program, 19 years
    /s/ Dr. Henry P. Decell, Jr. - JSC, Chief, Theory & Analysis Office, 5 years
    /s/Charles F. Deiterich - JSC, Mgr., Flight Operations Integration, MOD, 30 years
    /s/ Dr. Harold Doiron - JSC, Chairman, Shuttle Pogo Prevention Panel, 16 years
    /s/ Charles Duke - JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 16, 10 years
    /s/ Anita Gale
    /s/ Grace Germany - JSC, Program Analyst, 35 years
    /s/ Ed Gibson - JSC, Astronaut Skylab 4, 14 years
    /s/ Richard Gordon - JSC, Astronaut, Gemini Xi

    • 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 mspohr (589790)

        Must stop Pogo...

    • Re:If It Is Fact ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:15PM (#39661711)
      Just for reference, the disputed and now famous [universetoday.com] Hansen [wikipedia.org] climate study (NASA/GISS) from 1981 that exactly predicts CO2 effects on the mean temperature today.
    • Re:If It Is Fact ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by i kan reed (749298) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:16PM (#39661715) Homepage Journal

      There's one expert there, which is impressive, far more than most pointless climate petitions. Thomas Wysmuller appears to be responsible for at least 10 or 20 presentations on the subject of how climate change is "false", but oddly enough, not one real factual, data driven, peer reviewed paper published in any journal or anything.

      How odd, you'd think such an expert who had such strong opinions and spent so much time on the subject would have, some, you know, research they produced. Nope. I see several distinct "alternate" theories with his name attached, some of which somehow manage to contradict each other in general terms.

      It's like he's throwing his name behind every single thing that is opposed to anthropogenic climate change without actually being informed. How bizarre.

    • 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.

    • JSC can suck it (Score:5, Informative)

      by Overzeetop (214511) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:32PM (#39662055) Journal

      So you've got a bunch of space shuttle guys from Johnson Space Center, which does pretty much zero climate science, asking the administrator to censor the group at Goddard Space Flight Center, which is co-located with NOAA and is the center for earth sensing and earth science about an earth-science related topic? Really?

      And yes, I happen to be a former NASA/Goddard principal engineer with a whole wall of mission paraphernalia on my office wall. So, hey, JSC can suck it.

  • Did Anyone Else (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:55PM (#39661221) Journal
    Follow this part of the article:

    The 49-person letter was organized by Leighton Steward, chairman of Plants Need CO2, a non-profit with ties to the coal industry.

    To this site [plantsneedco2.org] and promptly commit suicide? From that site:

    Earth and its inhabitants need more, not less, CO2.
    More CO2 means:

    More Plant Growth
    Plants need less water
    More food per acre
    More robust habitats and ecosystems

    CO2 is Earth's greatest airborne fertilizer. Without it - No Life On Earth!

    A site with a banner that says "Warmer is better than colder." and "CO2 is Green." and "Climate Change is the Norm." really just makes my head hurt. The arguments presented on this site seem to imply that policy is to completely remove all CO2 from Earth. That is not true. It also grasps at hilarious straws:

    In addition to increasing the quantity of food available for human consumption, the rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is also increasing the quality of the foods we eat. It significantly increases the quantity and potency of the many beneficial substances found in their tissues (such as the vitamin C concentration of citrus fruit), which ultimately make their way onto our dinner tables and into many of the medicines we take, improving our health and helping us better contend with the multitude of diseases and other maladies that regularly afflict us. In just one species of spider lily, for example, enriching the air with CO2 has led to the production of higher concentrations of several substances that have been demonstrated to be effective in fighting a number of human maladies, including leukemia, ovary sarcoma, melanoma, and brain, colon, lung and renal cancers, as well as Japanese encephalitis and yellow, dengue, Punta Tora and Rift Valley fevers.

    Climate warming increases the quality of your food! Burn all the shit you want, folks! Hey, if CFCs make the planet warmer and this site says "warmer is better than colder" shouldn't we be purposefully releasing those things up into the ozone?

  • The reason (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:56PM (#39661231)

    "The 49-person letter was organized by Leighton Steward, chairman of Plants Need CO2, a non-profit with ties to the coal industry."
    And thats all I needed to know before I stopped reading.

  • 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.
  • Breaking news! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:04PM (#39661443) Journal

    Roughly half of Americans deny global warming; not restricted to blue-collar workers.

    Film at 11.

    • by jfengel (409917)

      One would like to think that those with an education are less likely to buy into the "climate scientist conspiracy" theory, which is a necessary consequence of what they're claiming. And it's true: out of a few tens of thousands of NASA employees, they dug up a few dozen to buy in to the conspiracy theory. Which does make it "less likely", while simultaneously reminding us that you can have an MS and a PhD and still for the same old BS.

  • 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 KeensMustard (655606) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @06:33PM (#39666619)
      It's a subject that needs more discussion.

      At what point does the deliberate dissemination of lies for profit become a criminal act? If I know my car is not roadworthy, yet advertise it as safe and reliable, isn't the buyer entitled to redress? And doesn't the level of redress increase depending on how damaging my fraud was?

      The truth of the matter is, these backers of the denialist movement simply don't want action to be taken. Were they to say what they really think: "Yes, it's true that our actions are causing harm, and that harm will in the future escalate to great harm for humans and other species, but you know what? Screw 'em. And Screw you too! We just want to make money"

      Would we reconsider how lenient we've been toward them?

      And what of their loyal disciples - referring, of course, to the cadre of radio hosts, opinionists, political operatives, and their loyal disciples, the foot soldiers of the denialist campaign (such as those who astroturf here)? Their point of view is much more visceral: "of course climate change is real and it is damaging, but I DON'T WANT TO KNOW so STOP TALKING ABOUT IT" - this is a gut feel view because the fact of climate change contradicts some fundamental worldview, and nobody wants to feel uncomfortable.

      The point is not that people are mistaken, or inclined to be sceptical, but rather, that they choose to view what is objective as subjective. To avoid any measuring of the subjective view "I don't want to" against the objective fact: "climate change is real, and action must be taken to avoid serious harm in the future", rhetoric is employed. At some point, that rhetoric becomes deception. At that point, the person is liable. So a discussion on the point of and extent of liability and therefore who is liable is very relevant and not at all extreme.

  • 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 @ n c s a .uiuc.edu> 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.

  • Not convincing (Score:5, Informative)

    by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:15PM (#39661701)

    So what? You could find numerous doctors and scientists with ties to the tobacco industry trying to tell us that cigarettes don't cause lung cancer and how second-hand smoke is safe just a couple decades ago. There is nothing novel about a group of people with financial ties to industries peddling fossil fuels to be spreading FUD over climate research.

  • 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 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"?
    • Most climate scientists are "not climate scientists". What do I mean? Well until very recently, there was no such thing. It is a new field. As such degrees of study in it are new. You can get a degree in Climate Science these days from some universities (NAU is one I know that offers at least a masters level program in it) but that is only within about the last 10 years. Yet we have all these older researchers who are researching it, and clearly don't have a degree in it. So what do they have a degree in?

      We

    • 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 hey! (33014)

      In fact, it seems like the only ones defending this AGW position are those blessed by the priesthood of the climate scientists

      True. Should that be surprising? Let's apply your "priesthood" logic to other fields and see where that leads us.

      * The priesthood of biology refuses to bless creation science.
      * The priesthood of physics refuses to bless perpetual motion.
      * The priesthood of mathematics refuses to bless squaring the circle.
      * The priesthood of medicine refuses to bless homeopathy.
      * The priesthood of the Republican Party refuses to bless higher taxes on the wealthy.
      * The priesthood of the Democratic Party refuses to bless lowe

    • 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.

      Apples to irrelevant oranges. If NASA hires a bunch of doctors and comes out with a study on osteoporosis and bone density would you dismiss it out of hand "because they're not a medical agency"?

      When anyone with an expertise in one of the necessary science branches decides to weigh in on arguments,

  • 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 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.

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