Thursday, May 31, 2007

Apocalypse PopoZao

Gregg Easterbrook, author of the article “How NASA Screwed Up” in this month’s Wired, was interviewed yesterday on Morning Edition about the misplaced priorities of our space agency.

Following is what Easterbrook feels NASA’s priorities should be:

(1) Conduct research, particularly environmental research, on Earth, the sun, and Venus, the most Earth-like planet.

(2) Locate asteroids and comets that might strike Earth, and devise a practical means of deflecting them.

(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.

(4) Figure out a way to replace today's chemical rockets with a much cheaper way to reach Earth orbit.

And NASA’s actual current priorities, according to Easterbrook:

(1) Maintain a pointless space station.

(2) Build a pointless Motel 6 on the moon.

(3) Increase humanity's store of knowledge by studying the distant universe.

(4) Keep money flowing to favored aerospace contractors and congressional districts.

Of course, the current NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, disputes that the agency is batting .25. And on today’s Morning Edition, he defended himself.

But not very well.

But let’s backtrack for just a sec. I have been puzzled for a while by BushCo’s stated interest in putting a man on Mars. When 43 first talked about that goal, in that barely literate and smirky way of his, I couldn’t decide if he had merely picked some expensive random future scientific achievement in order to deflect attention from his bazillion massively expensive screw-ups, or if there was some hidden agenda behind the whole Mars thing.

Turns out, the correct answer was Hidden Agenda. What a fucking surprise. Jeezy Chreezy, when am I going to learn that the correct answer is ALWAYS “hidden agenda”?

Because who stands to benefit from the Mars mission? Well, 43 supporters Boeing and Lockheed Martin, for one. For two, congressional districts in the states of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and OHIO. It’s all making sense now, isn’t it?

But back to NASA administrator Michael Griffin.

In part of its trend away from projects that study the effects of climate change, NASA recently cut funding for a satellite to study global soil moisture trends. When asked by ME’s Steve Inskeep if he is concerned about global warming, here is Griffin’s response:

MG: I'm aware that global warming exists. I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we've had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent. I'm also aware of recent findings that appear to have nailed down — pretty well nailed down the conclusion that much of that is manmade. Whether that is a long term concern or not, I can't say.

SI: Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

MG: 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. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, 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.

Yes, how DARE WE presume to try to maintain a global climate that supports human life?

Who do we think we are?

Not only that, but those fucking glaciers man, with all their melting and shit…

It’s like they think they’re better than us. Go ahead, glaciers, melt, and see if we care.

Fucking melters. Bunch of fucking melting whining babies is what they are.

And those fucking polar bears with their “Oh, I’m drowning because there’s not enough ice in my habitat anymore.” I have had it up to here with those fucking polar bears, quite frankly. They go on and on about their needs, like their shit don’t stink or something. Like they’re part of some giant eco-type-chain of interrelated species of animals and plants and geological conditions that help maintain the delicate balance of life on this planet of which we are a part.

Fuck that. I don’t know about you guys, but I am not one of those arrogant “I need oxygen to breathe” types. Bring on the CO2 man, because I can adapt. Sure, I’m living in one of those low-lying coastal zones that people are so afraid will be under water when the oceans begin to rise, and yeah, I'm not a strong swimmer, and I’ve got a Platinum Visa and a bottle of SPF 50, so what the fuck, man.

Bring it.


RandyLuvsPaiste said...

"Jeezy Chreezy, when am I going to learn that the correct answer is ALWAYS “hidden agenda”?"

Isn't it great to know that when we let down our guard, The Universe always provides a Republican shenanigan to keep us on our toes?

Larry Jones said...

I don't get it. He says he knows that climate change is man-made, then he says he doesn't "...think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change." Oh, wait: He wants it both ways, right?

kirby said...

Scratch a little deeper, and I wouldn't be suprised if that Griffin guy has absolutely no science background, but qualifies for his job just by being a big fundraiser for Bush.

Skylers Dad said...

I wonder how long it took to sort through the scientists at NASA to find the one who thinks we aren't harming our own environment, and then interview him!

Shit, shit, sheeeeit!

GETkristiLOVE said...

That Griffin dude talks in circles, as if hiding something. Or I should say avoiding something... say, like the truth.

Johnny Yen said...

I want a liveable environment. I'm such a pussy.

deadspot said...

Anybody who thinks that Venus should be a priority over Mars is not a real scientist. Venus is not Earth-like. Mars is Earth-like.

Among the good reasons we should be going to Mars instead of Venus:

1) Mars has days that are almost exactly 24 hours long, which means that all of our plants (somewhat important if you enjoy oxygen) are already adapted to function in the light/dark cycles there.

2) We've figured out a reliable, low-cost way to go back and forth with technology that we already have.

and my personal favorite:

3) The atmosphere isn't boiling hot acid vapor.

dad said...

As a retired Environmental Engineer, I have followed certain issues by reading scientific reports and then comparing them to what the public is fed and come to believe.

For instance, second hand smoke. There is no scientific basis for the greatly exaggerated claims of the number of people who die each year from second hand smoke. None! Sure their are computer models out there that are programed with guesstimate assumptions that will provide data, but none of them have been validated with hard evidence. I have read studies that show most of the toxins stay in the lungs of the primary smoker.

The EPA requires some superfund sites to be cleaned up to a degree that if you eat a spoonful of dirt each day for 70 years, you would absort enough toxins to make the likihood of getting cancer more than 1 in 1,000,000. This is based on computer models. There is no scientific validation for these standards.

Look, I hate second hand smoke. I start to cough when I smell it. I think that CO2 is warming the planet and human activity is the cause. I think we should do all we can to reduce CO2 emissions, which will be costly, and we have 6 plus years of no activity in this regard due to the Bush administration.

And I like Al Gore. But I think global warming is not the crisis that is being presented. Again, if one looks at the data that is projected as to what global warming will do to the planet, there is no valid science, only computer models programed with certain assumptions.

To get off on another thread, the earth was not made by some kindly supernatual force to allow human activity to live and prosper. The earth has and will continue to go through long cycles of cooling and warming. Volcanic activity and activity on the sun will continue to domainate the earth's climate. Human activity is such a small part of any changes that occur.

A 3 or 4 volcanos erupting at the same time could make us forget about global warming.

There are a lot of issues I could name that should have more priority.

However, Mitchel Griffin should have enough smarts to realize how his remarks will be taken and the subject of global warming does not lend itself to sound bites. We, IMO, have come to distrust anything a Bush official says about anything. If we can just hang on for another 500 days or so.

Grant Miller said...

Everybody says how dumb GWB is. Not me. I think he's actually really smart and conniving and his plans for Mars are further proof.

Michael said...

This is what you get when politics and science mix.

What I find lamentable in Mitchell Griffith is the nature of his argument. It is not for science, as one might hope to hear embedded in the words of a NASA leader. It is for spin, for argument steeped in desperation, audacity, and of course the security of the sound-proof booth it was recorded in.

He can't be provably wrong on the notion that global warming is ultimately harmful. And if he said that much, well the tree-hugger in all of us might not like it. But if we gave our reasoning as much sway as our passions, we could at least admit we don't know shit about what happens next either. We could admit this is indeed a hot-button issue du jour, a matter more of politics and gut feelings than foreknowledge, and that's it. We're noticing change, and change is scary. Next case?

The infuriating part for me is this guy is so completely in the political game that he has to diss the green crowd while making argument in order to appease his own people. No one wants the answer -- that there is no answer -- so let's ratchet up the rhetoric and let's aim for winning by driving the other side crazy.

Why do we want this game to begin with?

vikkitikkitavi said...

I agree that this guy is steeped in the game. He knows that the outcry would be too loud if he just denied that global warming is man-made. So instead he admits that we are affecting the world climate, but denies that we can reverse our own effect? Wha? Huh?

And the whole thing about who gets to pick which climate is such a bullshit diversion. Really. Like "inland people in Canada will enjoy the slightly warmer winters" would ever EVER be a reasonable argument against the devastating effects in other parts of the world. Motherfucker, please.

And Dad, I understand your point of view, but I work just a stone's throw from Caltech and JPL, and every single reputable scientist I have heard encountered or heard speak on this topic is extremely concerned about global warming, and I think you have to weigh the evidence by keeping in mind the agenda of those on the industry side of the topic.