Harrison Schmitt: Yet Another of Wall Street’s “Distinguished Scientists” with Strange Views

January 31, 2012

Another member of the “Wall Street 16” – the one-per-centers-against-climate-science discussed above, is Harrison “Jack” Schmitt  –  a former astronaut, who has converted to a virulent form of right wing extremism . In Dr. Schmitt’s world, those who care about the environment and their children’s future are “communists”. (see video below)

I posted this about Dr Schmitt a year ago – February 8, 2011:

If you care about your children’s future, if you believe other species have a right to exist, if you believe that clean air, clean water, and a livable planet are the minimum that we can pass along to our heirs, then you are now, and have always been,  a communist.

That’s the message from New Mexico’s new chairman of Natural Resources, former Apollo Astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt.

An Op-Ed page war over Schmitt’s crackpot science broke out in the Sante Fe New Mexican last week, and the climate denial chorus, including the tobacco and petroleum fueled Heartland Institute, where Schmitt is a board member, rushed to defend his extreme views. Schmitt was the topic of this week’s Climate Crock video, for his dishonest use of cherry picked statistics to claim that Arctic Sea ice extent had “returned to 1989 levels”.

Now, scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data center have weighed in. Since NSIDC data was part of the discussion, they felt that clarification was needed.

Senior NSIDC Scientists Mark Serreze and Walt Meier signed the message, which ever-so-politely suggested that Dr. Schmitt was smoking crack.

Regarding Mark Boslough’s Jan. 25 My View, “Climate-change deniers ignore science,” and in subsequent responses, there was discussion of Harrison Schmitt’s statement in 2009 that Arctic sea ice had recovered to 1989 levels. Since data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center were cited, we feel it worthwhile to clarify the issue for readers.

Sea ice conditions can vary from month to month, but overall we see the continuation of a strong downward trend. You can read our 2009 season analysis at http://nsidc.org/news/press/20091005_minimumpr.html.

While 2009 Arctic sea ice extent did briefly exceed 1989 levels in April and May, it was substantially less than 1989 the rest of the year. The 2009 maximum extent, minimum extent, and annual average extent values were all well below 1989. Based on these facts, it would be incorrect to suggest that 2009 represented a recovery of Arctic sea ice to 1989 levels.

NSIDC posts the most recent data and regularly updated analyses of conditions at _http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/._

end quote

The most important measure of ice is not “extent” in any case, it’s total volume – shown here:

Dr. Schmitt has apparently melded Tea Party politics with cold war fanaticism and an ferocious anti-science bias.  With more appointments like this, New Mexico will be well on the way to becoming an technological backwater of the new energy economy.

At the peak of the controversy, I posted the “Cherry Picking” video, and this local newscast from New Mexico I entitled “Tea Party on the Moon” –


Epilogue – February 11, 2011:

Climate Denier Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, who was recently nominated to head New Mexico’s Department of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, has turned down the position. Schmitt had recently come under scrutiny for his statements denying the reality of man-caused climate change, and his claim that environmentalists are a part of a global communist conspiracy.

Schmitt’s recent claims, in particular, his demonstrably innacurate claims about arctic sea ice,  became the focus of attention from a number of scientists, journalists, bloggers and citizens.

He has now turned down the position, ” just hours after a state senator called out Schmitt for refusing to comply with all the rules of a required background check” according to the Washington Post.

Could it be that Dr. Schmitt’s withdrawal is the first significant victory for a burgeoning effort to push back at the climate denying, anti-science movement?

Having watched this effort’s phenomenal growth over recent months, I’m betting the answer is yes.


7 Responses to “Harrison Schmitt: Yet Another of Wall Street’s “Distinguished Scientists” with Strange Views”

  1. neilrieck Says:

    What a sad fall from grace. Harrison Schmitt (the geological scientist) brought a fresh perspective to lunar exploration as part of Apollo 17. Then he gave himself a partial lobotomy in order to qualify as a politician. So what would he want for his epitaph: Scientist or Politician?

  2. Bruce Miller Says:

    Strange the way American, good or bad, black or white, thinking works. Still labeling folks “communist” as if it were a plague or a pox upon anyone who would even entertain a system alternate to the current Corpocracy. Socialism that wonderful shade of gray stigmatized too.
    Global warming weather caused by man or not, is really happening. weather this is part of a cyclical natural phenomenon, man made, or even in reaction to much heat added to the world system by nuclear testing in the last 40 years, and therefore a “one time event” is hard to say, and apparently harder to prove.
    CANDU reactors in China are Thorium fueled, a safer fuel to be certain http://www.theoildrum.com/node/4971 tells this story, but do add unusual heat none the less to the natural system of the eons, that was never there before.
    China detonated the largest thermo-nuclear device that world has ever seen, exceeding any American bombs by immeasurable amounts – much heat realized, still having a shock effect on the worlds systems?
    U.S. military, vastly increased since 1938, largest oil customer the world has ever seen, huge amounts of CO2, Heat, expelled, by this activity alone? How much heat into the world’s systems for each space shot, and just estimating form the “space junk” surrounding the world today, how much heat was added to the pre-1950’s system?

  3. How can someone who has done a science degree not look at the current data and graphs derived from them and not say that the earth is warming and on all probability ie the most likely cause is man made greenhouse gases.

    Especially when we consider what the consequences of this warming means to the future of the human race. A rational and logical perspective would be the obvious approach.

    Totally irresponsible behaviour.

  4. I used to really admire Harrison Schmidt when I was but a nipper. Along with Gene Cernan he lived on the moon for three days. Aside from Neil Armstrong’s Dan Dare landing, Apollo 17 was without a doubt the coolest of missions that made it to the lunar surface. Really. The former spaceman is now talking like a space cadet.

  5. […] post heading the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources after accounts of his scientific distortions surfaced. He is also noted for appearing on the Moon-bat Conspiracy theory Alex Jones show to discuss his […]

  6. […] mandate, or allow, teaching the anti-science view on climate change as well.  In the video above, ex-astronaut turned Tea Party nut-job Jack Schmitt, who should know better, advocates the “reforms” being pioneered in states like Tennessee […]

  7. […] I show how climate deniers like Harrison “Jack” Schmitt welcome evolution denial into our education system, in an alliance with far right wing […]

Leave a Reply to pmagn (@pmagn) Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: