- - Thursday, May 10, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

To the long list of right-wing, knuckle-dragging know nothings who dare question “global warming,” environmentalists can add six Apollo astronauts, two rocket men who flew aboard Skylab and a pair of former directors of the Johnson Space Center (JSC).

These veterans of America’s space program are among the 49 retired NASA employees who recently asked the agency to halt what they consider its unscientific advocacy of climate alarmism.

In a letter to NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., these rocket scientists, space explorers and other men and women of reason requested that “NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites.” They added: “We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

“The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements,” the March 28 letter continues.

“We feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate,” the document concludes. “At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.”

The letter’s signatories share at least 1,168 years of combined service to NASA. They include Gerald C. Griffin and Christopher C. Kraft Jr., both of whom ran the JSC; former Space Shuttle Program Director Leroy E. Day; Skylab astronauts Edward G. Gibson and Joseph P. Kerwin; and Apollo astronauts Philip K. Chapman, Walter Cunningham, Charles Duke, Richard Gordon (also a Gemini veteran), Harrison Schmitt and Al Worden.

Among these brave men, Mr. Duke and Mr. Schmitt walked on the moon and Mr. Gordon and Mr. Worden flew there without landing.

These serious names should retire the notion that skeptics of global warming are either mindless mouth-breathers or corporate shills who challenge “settled” climate science so big business may molest Mother Earth.

Until this year’s AWOL winter in America (and a simultaneous deep freeze in much of Europe) satellites have observed global temperatures remaining below levels measured in 2000. Even if the past 11 years of cooling mask a deeper warming, skeptics like these NASA alumni point to natural - rather than man-made - causes for such phenomena.

“I think the climate has been changing for billions of years,” said Buzz Aldrin, the second man on the moon, to London’s DailyTelegraph. “If it’s warming now, it may cool off later. I’m not in favor of just taking short-term isolated situations and depleting our resources to keep our climate just the way it is today. I’m not necessarily of the school that we [humans] are causing it all. I think the world is causing it.”

Finally, even if temperatures are rising dangerously, and if humans can do something about it, surely we can improve upon the typically high-cost, low-benefit approach of big government. The European Union is spending $250 billion through 2020 to reduce carbon dioxide 20 percent below 1990 levels. By 2100, this is expected to reduce temperatures by a whopping 0.09 degrees Fahrenheit. This is like renting an 18-wheel truck to ship an egg from San Diego to Boston.

The chorus of skeptics who scoff at such “solutions” now has expanded by nearly 50 voices. They deserve respect and attention. The pro-warming crowd will find it difficult to dismiss as flat-earthers these patriots who have orbited this planet, as well as those who sent them to outer space and brought them safely home.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

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