New NASA administrative head, Jim Bridenstine, a former Navy fighter pilot serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and a current member of the House of Representatives for the state of Oklahoma, spoke before the first NASA agencywide town hall meeting on May 17, 2018 addressing a number of issues including his updated stance on climate change. Included below: video presentation and transcript of climate discussion.
He includes the following, unequivocally clarifying his climate change position:
“I don’t deny the consensus that the climate is changing. In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we human beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it to the atmosphere, and volumes that, you know, we haven’t seen. And that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”
Full climate-related transcript below.
VIDEO RECORDING OF JIM BRIDENSTINE
NASA Town Hall Meeting, Washington D.C.
NASA CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR MAY 18, 2018
PARTIAL CLIMATE RELATED TRANSCRIPT (Edited By CC12)
Host Bob Jacobs, Office of Communications NASA:
“…one more easy one, because it’s about climate change…it’s from JPL – they (JPL) want to know how your position on climate change and climate monitoring has changed, what your position is specifically, and they add to it – your thoughts about the CMS (the Carbon Monitoring System) that has just been recently mentioned there, and things like cancelling the proposal to cancel the latest OCO mission.”
Jim Bridenstine, Chief Administrator, NASA:
“Sure… so the latest Elko mission OCO 3… I’ll hit that one quick and then revisit some of the others. So, the latest Orbital Carbon Observatory Mission 3… Number one: OCO 2 is on orbit and doing well. OCO 3 is still being developed by NASA and my understanding is, in January, we’re going to launch it.
Now, it was not in the President’s budget request but it was funded by Congress. The President signed the bill into law and we’re following the law, and we’re going to launch it in January of 2019. So, it’s not been cut, in fact, it’s going to be on orbit very soon. So, I think that’s an important point.
As far as my position on climate and how its evolved…
I’ll be very open and I’ll share kind of the story here. I guess it was in 2013, there were 24 Oklahomans that got killed in a massive tornado, and, me being a member of Congress and wanting to do something to help my fellows citizens in the state of Oklahoma, and, I want to be clear – that was a big event.
But, every year I’ve been in Congress, I’ve had constituents [that have gotten] killed in tornadoes, and every year in Congress I’ve made a commitment to my constituents that we’re going to do everything we can to prevent deaths from tornadoes. And, in fact, my objective is to move us to a day where we have zero deaths from tornadoes in the United States of America.
So, I started promoting a bill – the Weather Research and forecasting innovation Act, which actually started in 2013, passed in 2017 if you can imagine – hat’s how hard it is to pass bills in in the House and the Senate and get them signed by the president.
So, I started working on that bill. Now, in that debate, there was a moment where I said these words – I said, ‘temperatures quit rising 10 years ago, but, here’s what I know. My constituents this year will die in a tornado. Let’s allocate resources where we can save lives and property today.’
Now of course, after that, and, by the way – that 10 year timeline there, I pulled that from the NASA website. But, after that pause, it started going up immediately, like the next year. Right, and now, there’s this spike and then in the last two years it’s gone down a little bit.
But, here’s the point. I don’t deny the consensus that the climate is changing. In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we human beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it to the atmosphere, and volumes that, you know, we haven’t seen. And that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.
NASA is the one agency on the face of the planet that has the most credibility to do the science necessary so that we can understand it better than ever before.
And maybe to allay the concerns of the person who asked the question, I would like to share this.
If you look at the president’s budget requests for 2019, his budget line for Earth Science – it is higher than three of the budgets that were passed by President Obama. And, if you look what was passed into law and signed just a couple of months ago in the Omnibus Bill for Earth Science, it’s the second highest Earth science budget in the history of NASA that the President signed into law.
Here’s what I’ll tell you from my perspective. We need to make sure that NASA is continuing to do this science. And, we need to make sure that the science is void and free from partisan or political kind of rhetoric. And to do that, what we do, and what we have been doing, and I know Thomas Zurbuchen [Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate] has been focused on, is following the guidance of the National Academy of Sciences.
And of course, we had a new Decadel Survey [United States National Research Council publication] that came out in 2018. It came out in January if memory serves right, and we’re going to make sure – and I’ve told Thomas, and of course Thomas is telling his folks – we’re going to put together an architecture that follows the guidance that Decadel has, a series of things that are critically important to understanding the Earth for, you know, human society at large.
It starts with the idea that the water cycle and energy cycle are coupled and we need to make sure that we’re understanding how that affects the change in climate. It talks about how ecosystems are changing. That’s the number two thing.
We’re going to focus on understanding how ecosystems are changing based on how we as humans are changing the climate.
It talks about, and this is important to me, the guy who represents Oklahoma, it talks specifically about extending weather forecasts and air quality forecasts and improving those weather and air quality forecasts which is something I’ve been working on as a member of the House of Representatives.
It talks about understanding climate in general, I think that’s the way it frames it – we’re going to reduce climate uncertainty is how the National Academies framed it.
And of course five was sea-level rise, and six was geological disasters and hazards. So, we have guidance from, an apolitical, nonpartisan National Academy of Science, telling us what is important for Humanity and we’re going to follow it. And, I intend to do that.
Now, I’ve got so much more to say but I know there’s more questions, but thank you for that.”