NASA Head Jim Bridenstine Says His Views on Climate Change Have Evolved, and He Now Accepts Humans Are the Cause

Science • Views: 34,428

Among all the other disastrous Trump appointments of people who want to destroy the agencies they head, the confirmation of Jim Bridenstine as NASA Administrator was an especially disheartening event, since during his hearing last November Bridenstine was pretty clearly a “soft” climate change denier tapped to head an agency that performs vital research into climate change:

When asked whether human activity was the primary cause of climate change, he said, “It’s going to depend on a lot of factors, and we’re still learning more about that every day.”

You might think that statement could be worse, except that this is invariably the line pushed by the Republican Party to appear less hard-core ideological, and keep the real agenda on the down low until they get into positions of power where they can enact legislation and drive policies to stymie action on climate change.

But the Washington Post has an article that actually surprised me (hard to do these days), because today in the Senate, Bridenstine was asked by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) if he believed human-generated CO2 was the primary cause of climate change, and …

“The National Climate Assessment, that includes NASA, and it includes the Department of Energy, and it includes NOAA, has clearly stated it is extremely likely, [that] is the language they use, that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, and I have no reason to doubt the science that comes from that,” Bridenstine said.

Schatz followed up by asking, “Is it fair to call this an evolution of your views?”

Bridenstine replied: “Yes.”

Now, I completely believe people can change their opinions about subjects like this. I can actually see a person who did, by looking in a mirror.

There was a time when my thinking on climate change was ill-informed at best. My main influence, I’m ashamed to admit, was Michael Crichton’s awful book “State of Fear,” with its seemingly convincing arguments — and charts! It had charts. It looked scientific and Crichton had a reputation for being good at this stuff, so I bought it. I wasn’t a scientist, and I wasn’t even especially into the politics of the issue.

But as I got increasingly uncomfortable with right wing anti-science views and their tendency to lie and obfuscate facts, I decided to really look into the actual evidence of climate change for myself. And the real literature by real scientists not affiliated with energy industries made it increasingly, terribly clear how genuinely dire the problem is.

If Bridenstine has gone through something similar, I welcome him to the side of the light. It’s better here. There’s more light for one thing.

But in today’s scorched earth hellscape of a political environment, it’s extremely rare for this to happen, and I can’t help suspecting a trap or a deception or a McGuffin, because… Trump.

UPDATE at 5/23/18 3:59:57 pm by Charles Johnson

Sen. Schatz commented on Twitter following the hearing:

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