Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

NASA Chief on Global Warming

  1. May 31, 2007 #1

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    Michael Griffin turned up the heat this morning on global warming in an interview on National Public Radio.

    NASA administrator Michael Griffin defends the space agency's programs, including plans for a permanent moon base and manned missions to Mars. He also says that while NASA studies climate change, the agency has no authorization to "take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another."​

    The zinger:
    "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."​

    Griffin's statement has attracted attacks from the left and praise from the right. Griffin did not deny that global warming is occurring or that we are causing it: The right is a bit premature in its praise. He merely advocated caution in doing something about global warming. It appears the left can't handle that.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2007 #2

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There is no reasonable doubt that we will have to adapt to a warmer planet. What is laughable is the idea that significant changes won't be catastrophic for millions if not billions of people.

    Where we end up might be fine, but getting there will be hell if the changes happen too quickly.
  4. May 31, 2007 #3
    Alright, so we have no business trying to fix global warming. Now ask yourself: "Do I want my grandchildren living underwater?"
  5. May 31, 2007 #4
    Well, at least we want have a water shortage problem. Now if the answer is
    "no, I don't want my grandchildren living underwater", what can be done about it? (I'd move them to a higher elevation). If the whole world quit burning fossil fuels today would that cause the earth to get cooler? Would the earth continue getting warmer? Would the temp stay the same?

    My bet is that the earth would continue to get warmer, regardless. But, just like the GW via mankind, it's speculation.
  6. May 31, 2007 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Sea levels rise and fall all the time, and sea levels never rise or fall worldwide at the same time
  7. May 31, 2007 #6

    D H

    Staff: Mentor

    More to the point, does NASA have any business trying to fix global warming? Remember, NASA share of the federal budget is a whopping 0.6%.
  8. May 31, 2007 #7
    I think Mr. Griffin's comments are right on! Global climate has been changing for millions of years and will continue to change no matter what mankind does. As in all prior cycles, man must adapt to survive by moving to higher ground or higher or lower latitudes to find comfortable space to live.

    The real question is: "are we (mankind) doing anything to cause very rapid changes in global climate?" If so, can we do anything about it? The two major sources of CO2 are deforestation and fosil fuel combustion for energy production. We should be able to mitigate both activities with rational economics. Carbon taxation may not be the best way, however. I see a potential in methane production from sub-sea hydrate formations and CO2 sequestration in sub-sea hydrate "mines" that had been used to produce the methane. The global methane hydrate supply is huge! It should be able to replace almost all other hydrocarbon fuels and reduce CO2 production enormously!

    As we evolve into the Hydrogen economy methane steam reforming/shift conversion and CO2 extraction will allow easy CO2 hydrate sequestration.
  9. May 31, 2007 #8
    It looks like someone turned up the heat on Griffin.
  10. Jun 1, 2007 #9


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    During ice ages sea levels fall worldwide I thought? And then they rise again when the glaciers melt... all that water needs to come from somewhere
  11. Jun 1, 2007 #10
    okay here we go again. For those who know me, nothing new here, carry on.

    It may be observed that the trend of lower trophosphere satellite temperatures has stabilized as of 2002. So it's not warming today in general. Anyway, intented here is something else, the idea that increasing CO2 increases the surface temperature. I agree. Peeing in the ocean makes it warmer. Definitely.

    The clean physical warming effect of CO2 can be calculated to be about one degree celsius per doubling after thermal equilibrium is regained, that is, which takes several decades to centuries. The instanteneous warming effect is only 0.7 degrees. So to get the scary 3 +/- 1 degrees Celsius of Hansen et al a boost is needed from "positive feedback". This positive feedback is supposed to have acted in the ice ages but it is refuted along three independent lines.

    This means that the nett feedback is negative which means that the actual increase of temperature will not exceed one degree per doubling CO2. I believe the term here is underwhelming.

    Even if the doubling temperature increase was high enough to worry, there is still the Lomborg principle, the best of our efforts would delay the alleged inevitable a few years. Is it worth to cripple the society to gain a bit delay, or is it better to strenghten society and be ready to fight the consequences directly?

    About melting ice sheets and sea levels. The Earth appears to be currently recovering from it's coldest era in the last 10,000 years, the ninetheenth century. That will melt off a few glaciers, what else is new? Remember that the ice sheets survived the early Holocene Thermal Optimum with flying colors, a period of 3-4000 years when the Earth was 2-5 degrees warmer than today.
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2007
  12. Jun 1, 2007 #11
    And the human race, with little technology, survived just fine.
  13. Jun 1, 2007 #12
    A newly released study indicates that the climate scientists at NASA have a big disagreement with Griffin.

    I haven't seen Bush's global warming proposal. If it involves mounting a thermostat on the atlantic conveyer and appointing a global warming czar I wouldn't be surprised.:biggrin:

  14. Jun 1, 2007 #13


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Here's what Bob Park said on his weekly column on Bush's proposal and Griffin's statement
    (http://www.bobpark.org/) (Current issue)
  15. Jun 2, 2007 #14
    So as long as the bare minimum number survive that we can still call it the human race (species), that's cool? I dunno, I personally have higher goals in mind for humanity.
  16. Jun 2, 2007 #15
    There was no such thing as bare minimum numbers surviving. Several thousands of years ago the whole of the Sahara, Egypt, Mesopotamia had ideal climates. Mediterenian and moist. The land of milk and honey. The crate of several civilisations. Then the big drought started and after that several civilisations perished under averse climate conditions. All without anybody regulating anything with carbon dioxide.

    A reasonable assessment of the contribution of CO2 to climate here:

  17. Jun 2, 2007 #16
  18. Jun 2, 2007 #17
    The debate is over, all scientists agree: "The sky is falling!", Chicken Little.
  19. Jun 2, 2007 #18
    The debate is apparently only heating up. The latest NASA research is below, tipping points and all.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2007
  20. Jun 2, 2007 #19


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This is an excellent article written by Prof Bob Carter, a geologist at James Cook University, Queensland, engaged in paleoclimate research. I suggest you read the article in it's entirety before commenting.

    There IS a problem with global warming... it stopped in 1998

  21. Jun 3, 2007 #20
    Yes, there has been a lot of discussion about this paper elsewhere. Bob told that the title was invented by a brilliant sub editor. He had never said something like that. Other than that, there is the discussion of starting point bias. 1998 had the strong El Nino but that was followed by a prolonged La Nina. In fact there are the other ENSO events and some volcanic cooling from La Pinotuba and La Chichon volcanoes that biased the record, so you could find any trend you wanted.

    I pointed out earlier that the global temperature record is trendless since Jan 2002 with very little ENSO activity. But that doesn't say anything for the future.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: NASA Chief on Global Warming
  1. The Global Warming Hoax (Replies: 53)