I’ve been getting lots of email and other notes about a group of 49 people — including some ex-astronauts — who have written a public letter to NASA complaining about the space agency’s stance that global warming exists and is caused by humans.
You can guess how I feel about it. But to be clear: it’s more denialist spin, nonsense, and noise. You can read the original leter here, and then I strongly suggest reading Shawn Otto’s devastating deconstruction of it. You can also read the response to this letter by NASA’s Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalatim if you’d like.
I’ll note that it doesn’t matter that former astronauts signed this propaganda letter — I’ve written about Apollo 17′s Harrison Schmitt and his climate change denialism before — but I note it does matter that of the 49 signatories on that letter, not one is an actual working climate scientist. That should give you pause. I’ll also note that 49 former NASA employees is a tiny, tiny fraction of the total. It’s not hard to find statistical outliers in a group that big. I knew a creationist who worked for NASA!
But really, my very favorite thing about this is the group behind the letter: a non-profit called Plants Need CO2, which, if you can believe it, actively advocates that more carbon dioxide is good for us.
Yes, once you’re done comically rubbing your eyes with your fists you can read that again. Read More
It looks like Apollo 17 Moonwalker and climate change denier Harrison Schmitt will not be stepping in to run New Mexico’s Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources. How about that?
As I wrote a few days ago, Schmitt was appointed to be the head of that department. Given that he is a well-known denier of climate change, Schmitt was an, um, interesting choice by the NM Governor. Things really hit the fan a few days ago when it became clear that in a report about the climate written by Schmitt, he used obviously wrong (at best, cherry-picked) data to say that the arctic sea ice extent in 2009 was back to where it was in 1989. In reality, arctic sea ice extent has dropped since then, and the volume of ice has dropped dramatically.
As Chris Mooney reports at The Intersection, it’s hard to believe the blogs had much to do with Schmitt’s name being withdrawn, but it’s curious. The Washington Post reports that Schmitt refused to sign a waiver dealing with a background check by a private investigator. I must admit I’m scratching my head over that one; Schmitt was a NASA astronaut and for a term was a U.S. Senator for New Mexico, so getting hung up on red tape for a background check is weird. I don’t like to speculate on such little info, but I am not convinced we’re getting all scoop here.
Either way, this particular climate change denier won’t be running the NM department responsible for energy, so in my book that’s a good thing. However, the governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez, already has a history of being a climate change denier herself (a quick search reveals loads of info, like, say, this), so I expect whoever she appoints won’t have progressive ideas about it. We’ll just have to see what the next move is.
The twelve men who walked on the Moon are heroes. I have no doubt in my mind about that: the risks they took to stand on the surface of another world were fiercesome, and no matter what their fortitude is not in doubt. I’ve met many of them at various meetings, and quite liked them.
And now I fear I must add Apollo 17′s Harrison Schmitt to the list. I hate to do this, since he is an advocate for space travel and was the only classically-trained scientist to walk on the Moon (he’s a geologist). However, he’s a climate change denialist. And while everyone is entitled to their opinions, facts are not negotiable. And this is now doubly important since Schmitt was recently appointed to run New Mexico’s Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, where he will have to make decisions directly related to that state’s contribution to climate change.
Apparently, he’s been using blatantly wrong information to support his arguments. My Discover Magazine co-blogger Chris Mooney gives an overview of this on DeSmogBlog, but the real meat of Schmitt’s claims is pretty handily debunked by Scott Mandia and again by John Cook. There’s also a pretty brutal treatment of it by Richard Littlemore at DeSmogBlog as well.
In a nutshell, Schmitt has claimed that arctic sea ice is growing in extent, and in 2009 was back to levels seen in 1989. There are two problems with this claim. Read More