Union of Concerned Scientists Issues Action Alert Opposing Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

The Union of Concerned Scientists has issued an action alert urging citizens to write their senators to oppose the nomination of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to become the next NASA Administrator.

Representative Bridestine has recommended significantly altering NASA’s mission by stripping out all Earth science related work from Congress’s declared policy and purpose for NASA. NASA’s Earth science research advances understanding of how disasters like Hurricane Irma, Harvey, and Maria and droughts in the Upper Midwest form and allows us to better prepare and respond to extreme weather events across the country. The research is critical to the health and safety of the US public.

He also has a history of publicly questioning the cause of climate change. His public remarks suggest that his current understanding of Earth Science is largely informed by politically charged skeptics of climate change research. We need a NASA administrator who can differentiate science from politics.

The organization has an online form here: https://secure.ucsusa.org/onlineactions/CEVS143t_E-D-ScehUj4QA2

  • Tom Billings

    At least there was one line of honesty in this one:

    “He also has a history of publicly questioning the cause of climate change.”

    The thing is a political cause, not a scientific discipline. It funnels money into academia, to the benefit of the Party that responds with quivering attention to the donations of academics in its primary campaigns. The very fact that Bridenstine responds instead to those who criticize academia is what condemns him in their eyes.

    The key differentiator is his lack of loyalty to academic hierarchy, not science.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    A question to the believers out there since you follow Mr Bridenstein far more than I do. In your opinion what’s his overall balance of proposing/advocating/furthering the destruction of enterprises that offend his sensibilities vs his proposing/advocating/furthering the construction/creation of scientific enterprises?

    My sense, and I hope I’m wrong, is that he’s another member of the right wing wrecking crew who will be an effective destroyer, and an ineffective builder. I’m interested in what the believers think he will build. I think I have a good sense of what he will destroy.

  • Douglas Messier

    This guy’s a former military pilot without any experience in science telling scientists that they don’t know what they’re talking about. Imagine the reverse: scientists trying to tell Bridenstine his job as a fighter pilot. Kinda of absurd, huh?

    It’s really that simple. This conspiracy theory you spew is refuted by tons and tons of data. If anything is a political cause, it’s the GOP’s war on science and refusal to accept any scientific data that contradict their political beliefs and the economic interests of the oil and gas interests that fund their campaigns.

    When you talk about money buying scientists you’re obscuring the real truth of what’s going on here: industry buying politicians. You think Bridenstine could get elected in Oklahoma by saying anything else? Naive.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Just to ask, how many scientific programs have you been a part of, and if so what role did/do you play. You’re making a very specific claim that academia is not conducting science so I’m interested in what direct experience on your part backs that assertion. Or is it based on observations as an outsider?

  • MzUnGu

    Bolden is just a pilot as well

  • Douglas Messier

    Just a pilot? Really? You do realize he commanded space shuttle missions? Knew the agency and how it worked.

  • therealdmt

    Not to mention a general, part of upper management of a very large organization

  • Tom Billings

    “When you talk about money buying scientists you’re obscuring the real
    truth of what’s going on here: industry buying politicians. You think
    Bridenstine could get elected in Oklahoma by saying anything else?
    Naive.”

    In this you flip causation with result. It is the politicians that have the power, and can force businessmen to buy them off, or suffer the consequences of the sort Gibson Guitar went through for several years. This malign perception has been encouraged by progressive pols ever since the beginning of the progressive movement, just as much as it happened before them. Bridenstine got elected by saying, and agreeing with his voters. The first currency of politics is votes, not money, as the last national election showed.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The mistake everyone is making is thinking NASA must be run by a scientist or engineer. Historically on the average they make poor government administrators. Just look at the only two engineers to make it to President, Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter.

    The basic job of a NASA Administrator is to interface with Congress to get money for NASA. It is not to be chief scientist or chieft engineer and micromanage the agency while ignoring building the political support it needs. That is what the problem was with both Dr. Dan Golden and Dr. Michael Griffin and we are still dealing with the results.

    Jack Webb was no scientists or engineer, so he left the technical details to folks who were. He focus on making sure Congress supported NASA. It was why Project Apollo was successful. Could you imagine how Apollo might have been if some engineer like Dr. Griffin was running NASA then? Actually you don’t, just look at the mess he made of VSE.

  • Douglas Messier

    Jack Webb was an actor. James Webb was a former Marine Corps pilot, businessman and experienced government bureaucrat. He was a superb choice to run NASA because he knew how Washington worked and had experience in running bureaucracies and dealing with large corporations. Webb was partisan (he was a Democrat) but never an elected official and was well respected in the capital.

    I couldn’t imagine Webb telling von Braun that his engineering on the Saturn V was wrong, that he didn’t understand how to make a rocket work and that his equations were wrong. What the scientists are saying is they don’t want an elected politician from the oil patch with no scientific training to come in and tell them that they’re wrong about the science of climate change.

    Rubio and Nelson are concerned about putting a partisan politician in charge of NASA, especially one with little experience in running a large bureaucracy. There’s been a general bi-partisan consensus over the last few years about where the space program is going. They’re afraid that could get upset by someone with political baggage.

  • Douglas Messier

    I think most elected politicians in Congress would be amused to read your response, so much time and effort do they spend in office not attending to the people’s business but raising money from groups to which they are then beholden so they can win re-election to keep their jobs.

    When they start getting out of line, you end up with efforts like the one Steve Bannon is leading to run primary challengers to these elected officials. Many officials in Congress are in safe districts in terms of the opposition party, so their biggest threat comes from dissidents within their own who feel they’re towing the line enough.

    As for the electoral college, money spent is not the only determinant. Trump was so outrageous he was making headlines daily with a message that resonated. But, this election showed that money spent on new ways of communicating with voters (social media) could have a big impact. It was a lot cheaper than running TV ads, too.

  • mike_shupp

    I’m not exactly the “believer” you’re looking for, but I expect Bridenstine can be lived with. Granted, he’s not a proponent of Global Warming, but he’s from Oklahoma, a state filled with Republicans and oilfield workers and other rubes, He’s about as likely to stand up and describe AGW as a concern as he is to attend church and announce that he has doubts about the historicity of Jesus Christ.

    So. There are people without obvious axes to swing (Keith Cowling at NASAWATCH, for example) who think of him as likable and able, so he might be a Trump administration pick who merits some respect even when another political party takes the White House — there will surely be a few, Other hand …. it’s been 9 months since Mr Trump was inaugurarated and no one’s even scheduling hearings on Bridenstine’s appointment, which suggests NASA’s not going to be especially prominent during the Trump years and that it won’t much matter who becomes Administrator.

  • Pete Zaitcev

    Union of Concerned Kooks

  • Pete Zaitcev

    Griffin was quite successful at his master plan: to create a jobs program so embedded into congressional districts that it could never be canceled, no matter who is President and who is Administrator. Sure enough, Obama canceled it, and Congress immediately reconstituted it with some slight renaming. The only problem is that the program did nothing to advance American leadership in space. But it provided jobs and that’s what everyone in D.C. wanted.

  • windbourne

    Yes, which is why he left climate change studies on.all planets to expert scientists.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I believe Bolden was a F-18 pilot and carrier qualified. Both he and the current candidate are similarly trained except Bridenstein slams a huge dual turboprop AWACS aircraft onto a flattop. I’m betting that takes quite a bit out of you. No doubt he’s a very capable pilot, and being proficient in working airspace, flying within aircraft performance limitations, navigating by day and night, and flight planning. He has the mental faculty for the job. If you asked to bet on it, Id wager he believes that humans are causing global warming, only politics prevent him from admitting so or acting on it. Unless he’s a bible thumper and thinks that his god is pulling strings to prevent humans from being planetary engineers.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I don’t know, Jimmy Carter is looking better and better every new amin since him. If you look at the major problems he suffered from nobody fared any better then him at dealing with those issues, and his every policy was positively 30 years ahead of his time. If we had stayed on the energy path he wanted to take the US would control the solar and wind economies now. I’m sorry, Mr Carter was a fine president compared to Mr Thump, Bush Jr, and The Clintons.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I appreciate that, thanks.

  • MzUnGu

    But, do Bolden have a degree in Economics? in Psychology? and in Business? or an MBA like Bridenstein? It’s a management position, 90+% of engineering firms out there is not managed by engineers. for someone that can get all that many degrees and curiosity on all these subjects…it’s a + for me.

    Hack, you write about space and tech and prob don’t have a science and engineering degree either… I am not saying he’s the best candidate you can possibly find, but just because he’s position on climate chance should disqualifying his is just partisan whining.

  • ThomasLMatula

    No, they are afraid because he has a New Space background, even owned a rocket racing team, and may not swear allegiance to the SLS/Orion, upsetting the money flows to their district. They could care less about climate science, his views on it, or his ability to run an organization. Those are nothing more that a politically correct excuse to prevent someone who might oppose the SLS/Orion.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Actually if anyone is responsible for the climate change crisis it is President Carter. His opposition to nuclear energy killed the best hope of keeping CO2 below 400 ppm.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2014/10/01/why-doesnt-u-s-recycle-nuclear-fuel/#33d78702390f

    “A major obstacle to nuclear fuel recycling in the United States has been the perception that it’s not cost-effective and that it could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Those were the reasons President Jimmy Carter gave in 1977 when he prohibited it, preferring instead to bury spent nuclear fuel deep underground. Thirty-seven years later we’re no closer to doing that than we were in 1977.

    France, Great Britain and Japan, among other nations, rejected
    Carter’s solution. Those countries realized that spent nuclear fuel is a valuable asset, not simply waste requiring disposal.

    As a result, France today generates 80 percent of its electricity
    needs with nuclear power, much of it generated through recycling.”

    Solar and wind were not up to the task then and never be able to do more than provide a few percentage points of energy, and even that will be at a huge cost to the birds and bat populations. Future generation will wonder why we allow power firms to destroy our wildlife without penalties.