The Sciences

Griffin regrets global warming comments, sorta

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJun 7, 2007 11:00 PM


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Mike Griffin -- head of NASA, and who famously stuck his foot in it last week when he said that maybe we shouldn't do anything about global warming because it would be "arrogant" to assume things will get worse -- said he regrets saying that. But I think he apologized mostly for the wrong reason and only partly for the right one. At JPL, at a closed door meeting, he said:

...unfortunately, this is an issue which has become far more political than technical and it would have been well for me to have stayed out of it.

I disagree with him again. He should not have stayed out of it! NASA is charged to scientifically investigate the Earth, and if this planet is warming up, then part of NASA's whole purpose is to investigate it. Certainly, this has become a political issue. Duh. But that does not mean he should stay out of it, especially out of the scientific aspects. If he doesn't want to comment on the politicization of global warming, that's fine, even appropriate since as head of an agency he shouldn't comment, unless the politicization is interfering with the science. Say. But that does not change the fact that what he said was ridiculous (though perhaps not as awful as some of his apologists). And he didn't apologize for saying something so ridiculous; he apologized for commenting on the political aspects of global warming -- which, as I said, I think is appropriate, but not enough. What I find funny is what he went on to say:

"Doing media interviews is an art. Their goal is usually to generate controversy because it sells interviews and papers and my goal is usually to avoid controversy," he said.

The interviewer, from NPR, did nothing at all to generate controversy. He asked simple questions, and was not trying to sandbag Mr. Griffin at all. Read it for yourself. These were straightforward questions, and Mr. Griffin, for what it's worth, appeared to reply honestly. But half-apologies now -- and c'mon, blaming the media?? -- is silly. Besides, blaming the media will only get you in trouble... or attention from the wrong people. Like, say, Steven Colbert.

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