Less than a month into his new gig, it seems NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has had quite a bit of on-the-job training. On Thursday, he held a town hall at the agency’s Washington headquarters where he took questions from employees.
The first was about what the former Representative of Oklahoma thinks makes him qualified to be NASA’s head. The second addressed one of his most controversial standpoints: climate change.
In the past, controversial political stances – which include statements against gay marriage and whether humans are driving climate change – have sparked debates along party lines as to whether the former US Navy fighter pilot had the experience needed to fill the role. Now, he is singing a much different climate change song.
“I don’t deny that consensus that the climate is changing,” he said. “In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we humans beings are contributing to it in a major way. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it.”
He didn’t exactly say that humans are the main drivers of climate change, but saying they contribute “in a major way” shows he at least acknowledges the science backing climate change.
“To what extent?” asked Hawaii’s Democratic Senator Brian Schatz.
“That is a question I do not have an answer to, but I do know that humans have absolutely contributed to global warming,” replied Bridenstine.
“Are they the primary cause?” asked Schatz.
“It’s going to depend on a whole lot of factors, and we’re still learning more about that every day,” said Bridenstine. “In some years, you could say absolutely. In other years, during sun cycles and other things, there are other contributing factors that would have more of an impact.”
Bridenstine also pointed out that the agency’s new budget is evidence that future research will not be hindered, continuing that science should follow nonpartisan guidelines put into place by the National Academy of Sciences to remain “void and free” of political influence.
This all comes just a day after Representative Mo Brooks said sea levels are rising because rocks are falling in the ocean.
[H/T: The Atlantic]