Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mixed Messages About Climate -- Kennedy 317 (5835): 169 -- Science

Mixed Messages About Climate -- Kennedy 317 (5835): 169 -- Science:

"Every once in a while, something so unexpected emerges from the Administration in Washington, DC, that it just boggles the mind. On 1 June, I opened the front page of the New York Times to see two pictures of President Bush. Under the photo dated 2000, he says this about global warming: 'I don't think we know the solution to global warming yet, and I don't think we've got all the facts . . . ' But under the 2007 picture, he is calling for a multinational framework for reducing greenhouse gases. Although my environmental friends will hold their applause, this is sounding like progress.

I turn on National Public Radio--same day, same breakfast--and Steve Inskeep is interviewing Michael Griffin, director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Now, Griffin has been challenged before about morale problems at NASA resulting from the scrapping of various robotic space missions and the fate of Earth-observation programs. So I am astonished to hear Griffin say, in answer to a question about whether NASA has cut anything to make room for the Moon-Mars project, 'we have not cut any major priorities.' That may have also stunned Inskeep, who turned quickly to a question about global warming.

Here is Griffin's verbatim answer: 'I am aware that global warming--I am aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a 1° centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of about 20%.' He added: 'I have no doubt that global--that a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.'"

Arghhh! Even if Bush has finally moved to a program to control greenhouse gas emissions, we have lost not only the seven years since he was elected, but the time it will take to undue the damage done in seven years and get back to the where we were when he started. I have no explanation for Griffin's comments. JAD

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