Climate Deniers Want More Pluto, Less Earth

July 15, 2015

Above, skip directly to 2:16 for a classic story of good ol’ boy congressional goober-ism.

It’s been a triumphant week for NASA, as we reap the rewards of a long term technical triumph in the New Horizons flyby of Pluto. Might be good to consider whether NASA scientists are worth listening to when they inform us about what is happening on the world beneath our feet – the only one most human beings will ever live on.

There is a powerful anti-science movement in the US Congress that would like NASA scientists to stop finding out all that inconvenient stuff about what we are doing to the earth, like,  why is it so dang hot down here?  Better, they say, to keep the focus on what’s going on in far distant corners of the universe.

Speaking of goobers, Senator Ted Cruz pushes the ‘more space, less Earth” meme in a congressional hearing, and runs into a polite but devastating response from NASA administrator Charles Bolden:


Bolden defended spending more money on Earth science activities, saying he is “proud” of it since it’s led to a greater understanding of the planet.

“We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it — and that’s understanding our environment,” Bolden said, in a clear reference to global warming-related sea level rise.

“It is absolutely critical that we understand Earth’s environment because this is the only place that we have to live.”

As recent reports have shown, NASA satellites and earth observations have made critical discoveries about things as vital to Earthlings as – where is all our water going?  Below, Rachel Maddow hears from NASA researcher Jay Famiglietti on the status of global water resources.

Wonkette: we’ve noted before, what Ted Cruz thinks NASA needs to be doing is concentrating on stuff that is far away from Earth — the real space science, not all the stupid wasteful research that NASA has been doing on our own planet, which isn’t in space at all, and also isn’t even good science, as Ted Cruz understands science. Which is badly.

Ted Cruz is simply not a fan of these dumb NASA scientists who refuse to look to the skies — or at least, not high enough in the skies, because what’s actually in our own planet’s atmosphere belongs to the fossil fuel industry, and NASA shouldn’t politicize science by getting in the way of scientific progress with a lot of wild predictions about climate change. As he lectured NASA administrator Charles Bolden at a hearing in March, NASA is about being inspiring and space-oriented and doing cool stuff like going to the Moon, not about being depressing and Earth-looking-at:

But I would suggest that almost any American would agree that the core function of NASA is to explore space. That’s what inspires little boys and little girls across this country.

After all, no children in the history of the world ever got excited about how carbon dioxide is making the planet unlivable, and there’s nothing at all inspiring in the quest to stop global warming, there just isn’t. Go look at some planets that don’t have lobbyists, will you, NASA? Cruz has actually won at least part of his battle against NASA’s stupid satellites that look at Earth, convincing his pals in the House to slash NASA’s Earth-science budget.

boringearth Funny thing about planetary science, though: as Mother Jones columnist Tim McDonnell points out, there aren’t any other agencies in the U.S scientific establishment, or private industry, to take over NASA’s climate research. And of course, it’s NASA satellites that collect the very data Cruz misinterprets to call climate change a crock.

Worse, says McDonnell, “it’s pretty hard for scientists to make sense of what they see on other planets if they don’t understand the one we’re on.”

Another guy who is a scientist, astrobiologist David Grinspoon, notes that we’ve already applied discoveries from extraterrestrial observations to our own little blue world:

He pointed to the hole in the ozone layer as a classic example: Scientists were first alerted to the possibility that the use of certain chemicals on Earth could erode the ozone by studying the atmosphere of Venus.

Trends in global groundwater, as revealed by NASA's GRACE Satellites

Trends in global groundwater, as revealed by NASA’s GRACE Satellites

Happily, when the international scientific community came to a consensus about solving the ozone hole, the world took action, instead of listening to idiots like Ted Cruz, who think that science should only study stuff that won’t be bad for campaign donors, or who claim — as many did in the fight to ban ozone-depleting chemicals — that any action would destroy the entire world economy.
New Republic:

How important is NASA’s focus on Earth science? Bloomberg’s Eric Roston reported in February that NASA launched a new satellite to provide data on how much water is in the soil. Scientists had measurements on soil moisture before, but nothing like what a satellite 426 miles high can provide. It offers a complete snapshot of Earth’s surface, helping experts predict floods, drought, weather, and agriculture. NASA plans a dozen launches of Earth satellites over the next eight yearswhich will be crucial to understanding the changing climate. It might not be as thrilling as space exploration, but this data will go a long way to helping people in the most vulnerable parts of the world.

Might be a good time to consider once again the words of Carl Sagan – no slouch in exploring far away worlds – in his consideration of the value of our own, admittedly small, pale, blue dot.

4 Responses to “Climate Deniers Want More Pluto, Less Earth”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Great post. Listening to that way-beyond-a-goober slimebag Cruz get disassembled by Bolden again got my heart rate up without having to do any sweaty exercising.

    I am about to write a letter to the editors of the WashPost, which has been salivating and gushing over the wonderful pictures being sent back from Pluto. My message will be that we need to spend more on near earth space exploration, specifically on science satellites to study weather and climate change. It likely won’t get published, just as my earlier missives about Mars and Moon exploration being a waste of time and resources. I will point out what Bolden says—-“Earth is the only planet we have to live on” and we need to study and preserve it rather than make work for the aerospace contractors in Texas that Cruz loves so much and send vehicles to places that NO human will ever visit.

  2. Gingerbaker Says:

    Speaking of Pluto…..

    don’t know if you saw this already, but the Pluto fly-by has perhaps raised more questions than was bargained for:

    • dumboldguy Says:

      That’s really funny, and the final comment (so far) on that link is a laugh riot also.

      “Space Exploration is vitally important if the Human Species is to survive, at some point we are going to have to get off our beautiful Planet so the more money spent on Space the better”. (He’ll probably vote for Cruz)

  3. […] See the whole article at Climate Deniers Want More Pluto, Less Earth […]

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