NASA Administrator Michael Griffin: What climate is the "best" climate?  (Photo from NASA.)
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin: What climate is the "best" climate? (Photo from NASA.)

Several months ago, political columnist George Will argued that global warming was nothing to worry about. The Earth has warmed and cooled many times before. Even if the current warming is caused by humans (a point which Will is skeptical on), so what? What makes the current climate so special that it needs to be preserved?

Nobody paid much attention at the time. But now NASA administrator Michael Griffin has made a similar pronouncement.

"I have no doubt 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. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change — I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate...is the best climate for all other human beings."

This statement outraged many scientists, who feel that global warming is a crisis and needs to be dealt with. Griffin later clarified his remarks, saying that NASA’s job is to collect climate information. It does not set policy. Thus, his comments should not be seen as officially endorsing any particular course of action (or inaction).

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Thor's picture
Thor says:

Backtracking alert. Today's USA Today reports that Griffin is backing away from his earlier comments. I quote part of the article: in the closed-door meeting Monday at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena he said 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."

Farther on in the article: Griffin told JPL workers he tried to separate his opinions during the NPR interview, but that it got "lost in the shuffle."

"Doing media interviews is an art. Their goal is usually to generate controversy because it sells interviews and papers and my goal is usually to avoid controversy," he said.

My comment: Seeing as how NPR is a non-commercial entity, I don't see how that last part of his excuse applies at all. Just another example of some one jumping out of the kitchen when it gets too hot.

posted on Wed, 06/06/2007 - 1:31pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

I don't see any backtracking here. Griffin does not deny, refute or change his statement; he merely acknowledges that it has been given more prominence than it deserves, and that is has unfortunately been mistaken for official policy, rather than seen as personal opinion.

While NPR is not trying to sell ad space, they certainly do try to attract listeners. They are not unfamiliar with controversy.

posted on Wed, 06/06/2007 - 2:25pm

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