Credo Action

Tell the Senate: Reject Trump’s anti-science pick to head NASA

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The petition to the Senate reads:

"NASA must remain an independent scientific agency, and its critical Earth science missions must continue. Reject Trump's appointment of anti-science ideologue Rep. Jim Bridenstine for NASA head and insist on a scientist or another qualified individual for the position."

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    Tell the Senate: Reject Trump’s anti-science pick to head NASA

    It's no secret that Donald Trump is filling his administration with climate change deniers. Even so, Trump’s nomination of anti-science ideologue Rep. Jim Bridenstine to be the head of NASA is breathtaking in its ignorance and potential for harm.

    If the Senate confirms his nomination, Bridenstine could help Trump shutter NASA's irreplaceable Earth science missions and ground its research satellites. With our best scientific tools trashed, we would lose much of our ability to understand what's happening to our planet. We must not let that happen.

    Tell the Senate: Reject anti-science Jim Bridenstine as head of NASA.

    Not only does Bridenstine have no scientific training, he opposes research funding, parrots discredited climate denial myths and wants to rewrite NASA's agenda. In 2013, he claimed that global temperatures had stopped rising1 – a popular right-wing lie based on cherry-picked data.2 But even now that 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three warmest years on record,3 he still does not acknowledge the scientific consensus on climate change.

    Bridenstine once introduced a bill that illuminates his twisted view of NASA's purpose. Currently, NASA's goals include "the expansion of human knowledge of the Earth and of phenomena in the atmosphere and space.”4 Bridenstine's bill would have replaced that objective with “the expansion of the human sphere of influence throughout the Solar System.”5

    Bizarrely, Bridenstine wants to replace NASA's goal of knowledge with one of influence. Instead of actually understanding our physical world, he just wants to control it. But as we have seen with climate change and so much other ecological devastation, expanding human influence without bothering to understand its consequences has disastrous consequences.

    Tell the Senate: Reject anti-science Jim Bridenstine as head of NASA.

    NASA's pioneering satellites have solved mysteries about our planet's warming that no other research methods have been able to solve:

    • They measured the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, demonstrating that the sheets are melting an alarming rate.6
    • They tracked the shrinking of California's aquifers and rapid disappearance of groundwater in the state's worst drought in a thousand years.7
    • By measuring gravitational pull, they actually weighed the oceans to measure how much sea level rise is from melting ice sheets rather than heat expansion.8
    • In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, they have been tracking flood patterns, soil moisture and power failures all over East Texas.9

    All of this groundbreaking work helps us to understand our changing planet so we can predict and respond to future change.

    Yet Trump’s proposed budget would completely cut four Earth science missions aimed at studying different aspects of the climate system, part of a $102 million cut to NASA's Earth science program.10 Given Bridenstine's willful ignorance about climate change, we can assume that he would happily support these plans. Indeed Bridenstine once actually asked Pres. Obama to apologize to the public for funding climate research,11 and he misrepresented data in doing it.12

    The good news is that opposition to Bridenstine's confirmation is growing. Both senators from Florida,where NASA is an important part of the economy, have expressed concerns. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the science committee that will hold his confirmation hearing, said “the head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician."13 Even Republican Sen. Marco Rubio agreed, saying that it’s important that NASA “remain free of politics and partisanship.”14

    Most previous NASA chiefs have been scientists or astronauts. As an independent agency, NASA has never been led by a member of Congress in its 60-year history.15 We cannot allow Trump to politicize and hamstring this agency now when we need its expertise more than ever.

    Tell the Senate: Reject anti-science Jim Bridenstine as head of NASA.

    References:

    1. Dana Nuccitelli, "Trump promised to hire the best people. He keeps hiring the worst. Nasa is next," The Guardian, Sept. 12, 2017.
    2. Climate Nexus, "Debunking the Top 10 Climate Change Myths," accessed Sept. 13, 2017.
    3. Ibid.
    4. Nuccitelli, "Trump promised to hire the best people. He keeps hiring the worst. Nasa is next."
    5. Ibid.
    6. Jon Gertner, "What Could We Lose if a NASA Climate Mission Goes Dark?" The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 12, 2017.
    7. Ibid.
    8. Ibid.
    9. Ibid.
    10. Nuccitelli, "Trump promised to hire the best people. He keeps hiring the worst. Nasa is next."
    11. Christian Davenport, "Support builds for Bridenstine to lead NASA despite past skepticism on climate change," The Washington Post, Sept. 11, 2017.
    12. Louis Jacobson, "Jim Bridenstine: U.S. spends 30 times as much on climate change research as on weather forecasting, Politifact, June 14, 2013.
    13. Davenport, "Support builds for Bridenstine to lead NASA despite past skepticism on climate change."
    14. Ibid.
    15. Graham Lanktree, "Who is Jim Bridenstine, the climate change denier Trump picked to head Nasa?" Newsweek, Sept. 7, 2017.