Earth Science: June 2007 Archives

Squeeze on NASA Earth Science Budget Causing Alarm, Congressional Quarterly

"A squeeze on funding for satellites to look down on the Earth's environment at a time of growing need for research into the effects of climate change is creating alarm among scientists and on Capitol Hill. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, renowned for its pioneering role in science, is seeing its science budget shrink and its satellite Earth observation capacity endangered even as the agency's overall mission grows."

Missed Opportunity, Planetary Society

"It might be reasonable to accept that this was only a faux pas by a blunt, bright guy who likes to be unconventional. Indeed, Griffin has expressed regret about his comments. But that misses a greater point - this was a major opportunity to promote his agency, the U.S. space program and their value to the public at large. He downplayed one of NASA's most valued and widely recognized functions - teaching us about our own planet and monitoring it from the unique vantage of space. In doing so, Griffin also undermined public support for his most cherished program - the Vision for Space Exploration."

Editor's note: NASA's response? Well, their Strategic Communications operation just hopes things like this will go away. If you look at their NASA Message Construct all you get are partial, generic ideas contained in stilted sentences - including what to say in a proverbial "Elevator Speech" with someone (I am guessing here) who wants to know what NASA does. After reading this, I have to say that if I were just a regular person off the street, I'd be confused (and a little nervous) if someone from NASA just started talking about this stuff in an elevator. I wonder what this NASA person's response would be to a question from a taxpayer about Mike Griffin's dumb comments about global warming? If they adhere to this agency guidance, they'd have no answer.

- David A. Powner
- Rep. Nick Lampson
- John Marburger
- Susan Mashiko

Hearing Charter: Status Report on the NPOESS Weather Satellite Program

Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites: Restructuring Is Under Way, but Technical Challenges and Risks Remain, GAO

"The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is a tri- agency acquisition--managed by the Departments of Commerce and Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration--which experienced escalating costs, schedule delays, and technical difficulties. "

Editor's note: Stephen Colbert has refered to Mike Griffin's global warming comments twice this week. This is what he said on Tuesday. This is from 'Colbert Report: Mission Control' on Comedy Central's MotherLoad, (broadband video channel).

NASA head regrets global warming remarks, AP

"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."

Pentagon to pare climate satellites, AP

"The Bush administration is drastically scaling back efforts to measure global warming from space, just as the president tries to convince the world that the U.S. is ready to take the lead in reducing greenhouse gases. A confidential report to the White House, obtained by The Associated Press, warns that U.S. scientists will soon lose much of their ability to monitor warming from space using a costly and problem-plagued satellite initiative begun more than a decade ago."

Ignorance on global warming, Boston Globe

"Berrien Moore, director of the Institute for the Study of Earths, Oceans, and Space at the University of New Hampshire, said Griffin's comments were "bizarre," "baffling," and "mind-boggling." "It is such a strong statement based on such a high level of ignorance," Berrien said yesterday in a phone interview. He has been a lead author in past reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. "It indicates he doesn't have any knowledge on the topic he's talking about. Even a cursory reading [of the research] would not support what he said."

Hot Enough in Here?, editorial, NY Times

"Michael Griffin, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, is renowned for speaking bluntly so it was no surprise when he stuck his foot in his mouth during a recent interview. The disturbing element is that he may have inadvertently revealed one reason the space agency has been cutting back on satellite missions to study global warming."

Editor's note: The following selection is repeated - verbatim - from an ongoing "Ask the Administrator" dialog with Mike Griffin, located on InsideNASA, and can be viewed by anyone at NASA:

Question(s): What are the agency plans to respond to the NRC Decadal Survey "Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond"? Is there a general opinion of this report and the impacts to NASA at this early stage? From:Steve Ambrose,Headquarters

NASA chief downplays threat of warming, Washington Post/AP

"It's pretty obvious that the NASA administrator was speaking about his own personal views and by no means representing or attempting to represent the administration's views or broader policy," Marburger said. "He's got a very wry sense of humor and is very outspoken."

NASA Administrator Questions Need to Fight Global Warming, Washington Post

"White House science adviser John H. Marburger distanced the administration from Griffin, saying that "nobody should think that he was speaking for anyone but himself."

NASA chief not worried about climate, AP

"White House science adviser Jack Marburger said he was not disturbed by Griffin's remarks, but distanced them from President Bush, who on Thursday announced an international global warming proposal."

Rush Limbaugh applauds Griffin's global warming comments

"This is pretty big news here. The NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, I don't know if this guy is a dittohead or not, but if not, he could be. ... Michael Griffin, NASA administrator appeared on NPR and he told them that while he has no doubt that a trend of global warming exists, quote, "I'm not sure it's fair to say it's a problem we have to wrestle with." In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep that aired today, administrator Griffin said, "I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."


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