Trump’s “scientific” nominees are getting more and more absurd. Even as his NASA nominee denies climate change on Earth, he wants to study it on Mars.
Jim Bridenstine, the nominee for NASA leadership, is your run-of-the-mill Trump Republican: an anti-science climate change denier with a long history of false claims and manipulation. He also has no formal scientific or engineering education which, naturally, makes him unfit to lead an organization like NASA. He is also a Congressman and were he confirmed, he would be the first member of Congress to lead NASA. But as we’ve already seen time and time again, none of this matters. Instead of qualified professionals, instead of someone who actually knows what science and space exploration mean, we get a political ally.
To make things even more laughable, while Bridenstine has been a staunch opposer to studying climate change on Earth, saying that NASA just shouldn’t do it, he wants to study it on Mars.
“Mars once had a magnetic field, rivers, lakes and an ocean on its north pole,” he wrote. “At some point, Mars changed dramatically and we should strive to understand why. Studying other planets can inform our understanding of Earth.”
Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good idea. Mars is one of the most interesting bodies in the solar system, and we should definitely continue our studies of Mars. The Red Planet was once very Earth-like, and even now might host life. In this regard, Bridenstine is definitely right — by studying Mars we can learn a lot about Earth. But you know how we could learn even more about Earth? By studying Earth.
“Bridenstine is correct in his comments that studying Mars can help us understand Earth—in a general sense,” Tanya Harrison, Director of Research at ASU’s Space Technology and Science (NewSpace) Initiative, told Gizmodo. “But the timescales we’re talking about for Mars becoming a cold and arid planet are many orders of magnitude longer than the changes we are seeing in our climate here on Earth.”
This isn’t just an isolated event. Bridenstine has falsely stated that global temperatures had stopped rising about a decade ago — an absurd statement when you consider just the past three years, the three hottest years in recorded history, all in a row. His statements also put him direct contradiction to NASA and to the global consensus on climate change. NASA finds that that climate-warming trends are “extremely likely due to human activities” and has written on its website that “the small amount of dissent tends to come from a few vocal scientists who are not experts in the climate field or do not understand the scientific basis of long-term climate processes”.
It wouldn’t be the first time something like this happens. The EPA is also headed by Scott Pruitt, who is also a climate change denier and in direct opposition to EPA scientists.