On an interview this morning on NPR's Morning Edition, NASA chief administrator, Michael Griffin defended NASA's spending on a manned mission to Mars and planned permanent moon base and said that while NASA studies climate change, the agency has no authorization to "take actions to affect climate change in either one way or another."
This excerpt from the NPR interview has got to take the cake as today's Dumb Quote of the Day. Dr Griffin told NRP's Steve Inskeep:
"I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth's climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn't change. First of all, I don't think it's within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."Now, Dr Griffin is presumably a smart guy. So why did he say something so patently dumb on national radio?
Human civilization and the current biological community have evolved and adapted to living in current climatic conditions, which - relative to the changes we are now causing to the global climate - have been stable for tens of thousands of years. A change of ice-age magnitude proportions - several degrees Celsius of warming - would clearly wreak havoc on both human and non-human life. Dr Griffin has to know that, so why would he say something so stupid?
I hope this isn't another example of government scientists towing a party line for the sake of the Bush Administration's political agenda...
Either way, congratulations Dr Griffin - you win today's Dumb Quote of the Day award!
[You can read a full transcript or listen to the interview here - the interesting part is about 4 1/2 minutes in.]