President Donald Trump on Friday announced that he intends to nominate Oklahoma Representative Jim Bridenstine, a climate science denier as NASA’s next Administrator.
Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, the ranking member on the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation told Politico that “the head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician.”
Nelson’s Republican counterpart Marco Rubio says that Bridenstine would be “devastating for the space program,” and that his “political baggage” could hold NASA back.
Bridenstine, who represents Oklahoma’s First Congressional District, is a proponent of the commercial space industry and has also been a vocal advocate for opening up the Moon for commercial activity and establishing a permanent settlement on its surface.
NASA scientists have led the way in documenting the scientific reality of climate change. But in 2013, Bridenstine not only gave a speech on the House floor filled with standard denier talking points, he actually ended his remarks with a demand that President Obama apologize for funding research into climate science.
“Mr. Speaker, global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago,” claimed Bridenstine, “Global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.”
However, a 2010 NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) science brief summarizing recent research, explained, “A study by GISS climate scientists recently published in the journal Science shows that atmospheric CO2 operates as a thermostat to control the temperature of Earth.”
The science brief concluded, “There is no viable alternative to counteract global warming except through direct human effort to reduce the atmospheric CO2 level.”
In a statement, Lightfoot reaffirmed that Bridenstine needs senate confirmation, but that he looks forward to “ensuring a smooth transition and sharing the great work the NASA team is doing.”
In an email to ThinkProgress, John Holdren, an environmental scientist who served as Obama Science advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for 8 years, wrote: “Bridenstine’s stance on climate change reveals him to be a fact-averse, scientifically illiterate ideologue and a danger, if confirmed by the Senate, to NASA’s leadership in space science and Earth science alike.”