NASA chief steps in global warming goo

Mike Griffin was a breath of fresh air when he took the reins at NASA in 2005. Coming out of the aerospace industry, Griffin seemed like the perfect choice to head up an agency that was struggling to find its way after the Columbia disaster and the lackluster leadership of adminstrator Sean O’Keefe.

Earlier this week, Griffin should have earned even more respect from anyone paying attention to NASA. He expressed doubt about the global warming “consensus”. He has since expressed regret, not for saying what he believes, but for wading into a political debate.

NASA administrator Michael Griffin said in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena that “unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical, and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it.”

“All I can really do is apologize to all you guys…. I feel badly that I caused this amount of controversy over something like this,” he said.

Some scientists are rallying around the NASA chief:

“NASA’s top administrator, Michael Griffin, speaking on NPR radio made some refreshingly sensible comments about the present global warming scare,” said Robert Ferguson, Director of the Science and Public Policy Institute. “Many rationalist scientists agree with him, clearly demonstrating there is no scientific consensus on man-made, catastrophic global warming,” said Ferguson.

Griffin said he doubted global warming is “a problem we must wrestle with,” and that it is arrogant to believe that today’s climate is the best we could have and that “we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change.”

While NASA scientist, James Hansen, was sharply critical of his boss, other scientists from around the world came to Griffin’s support.

Said Dr. Walter Starck, an Australian marine scientist, “Griffin makes an important distinction between the scientific findings of climate change and dramatic predictions of catastrophic consequences accompanied by policy demands. The former can be evaluated by its evidence, but; the latter rest only on assertions and claims to authority. Alternate predictions of benefits from projected changes have been proposed with comparable authority and plausibility. For example, unless one chooses to define the Little Ice Age as “normal” and “optimal” the net effect of any warming has only been beneficial and any anthropogenic contribution very small indeed. Dramatic predictions of imminent disaster have a near perfect record of failure. Griffin’s note of caution in the escalating concern over climate change deserves sober consideration.

Another Australian, who testified before a Senate panel last year, Professor Robert Carter, observed, “My main reaction to Michael Griffin is to congratulate him on his clear-sightedness, not to mention his courage in speaking out on such a controversial topic.”

Perspective: Griffin is NASA’s top guy, and NASA (along with NOAA, as James pointed out in comments) is probably the government agency that knows more about the climate than any other through its constellation of earth-watching satellites. Dr. Griffin is not a climatologist, but then again neither are Al Gore, Laurie David or most of the people running around like Chicken Little warning that the sky is falling.

Unlike them, Griffin is in a position to know the science first-hand.