Friday, April 13, 2012

Why the NASA employees letter was wrong

I grew up with the space program. I went to school with the astronaut's kids. I have met several astronauts over the years. I teach about the space program in my astronomy and space science classes. These guys are heroes to me. That is part of the reason I was so disappointed to read about the letter several former astronauts and former NASA employees sent to NASA telling it to stay away from climate change. Another reason I was so disappointed is because they were just flat-out wrong.

You can read the entire letter for yourself here.

Some erroneous comments made by the signers include:

"claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated"

"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."

I particularly found these statements to be disturbing:

"NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate."


"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."

Let's examine these each of these statements and show why they are not only wrong, but irresponsible.

The statement that the evidence of man-made global climate change is not substantiated is 100% in error. The evidence is so overwhelming that anyone can prove it. There is so much data and evidence to substantiate the fact that we are changing the climate that the only way you can come to any other conclusion is to deny science and abandon the scientific method.

Some good locations to begin such an investigation would be the websites for NASA Global Climate Change, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. These are just a few of the wealth of locations you can go to for scientific data that will demonstrate the conclusive nature of global climate change and its causes.

If you visit these locations and look at the data you will see:

The global temperature has been rising and continues to rise. The 1980s were the hottest decade every recorded at the time. Every year of the 1990s was hotter than the average of the 1980s. Every year since 2000 has been hotter than the average of the 1990s. And, nine of the 10 hottest years ever recorded have occurred since 2000. You'll see that the oceans are heating at a dramatic rate. Sea ice is melting at a rate that is unprecedented, leaving not only dramatically less ice than before, but the remaining ice is also thinner. You will also see that glaciers around the world are melting and the rate of melting is increasing. This is just a small amount of the evidence that proves man-made global climate change. There are lots of anti-science claims about this evidence, but just check the facts for yourself. Don't take my word for it and don't take the word of the deniers. Examine the science for yourself. I stand by my statement, the only way you can come to any other conclusion is to reject the scientific method.

The claim that 'hundreds' of well-known climate scientists are deny global warming is very disturbing because it isn't true. According to a poll published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scienes, over 97% of all climate scientists agree with the claim that it is 'very likely' that global warming is caused by human activity. What is interesting is that the most outspoken deniers of climate change are all funded by the fossil fuel industry. Furthermore, the works of these individuals have all been proven to invalid. You may make all the claims you want, but when you are supported by fossil fuel industries and your claims are not supported by any science then your conclusions are invalid. These individuals are the climate change equivalent to the scientists that use to tell us that smoking was harmless.

To say the science is not settled is incorrect. The science is settled. The fact that there are some people that have chosen to reject science does not change that. Science is not a popularity poll. It doesn't matter if there are some people that disagree with the facts. Nature will do what it does, with or without our consent. For climate change deniers to say the science is not settled is the same as standing in a hurricane and yelling at the wind that it is suppose to be a clear day. The weight of the evidence is against you.

The last two statements are very disturbing. What these amount to is the signers of this letter telling a science organization to not conduct any science investigation into climate change, merely for the reason that they disagree with it. This is nothing short of intimidation and an attempt at censorship. I personally find these statements to be offensive and repugnant. The signers should be ashamed of themselves for these statements and owe the scientific community, and the American people, an apology. If anyone's reputation is damaged, it is the reputation of the signers.

I am glad they put their signatures on this document. When I see something from these individuals in the future we can all know that this is a person that has rejected science.

One last comment, notice that none of the signers is a climate scientists, but they want to dictate the conclusions of climate research.

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