Communion Of Dreams


He said what???

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin was interviewed yesterday morning by Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition. During that interview the following exchange took place, on the topic of global warming:

(Inskeep): Do you have any doubt that this is a problem that mankind has to wrestle with?

(Griffin): I have no doubt that … a trend of global warming exists. I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. To assume that it is a problem is to assume that the state of Earth’s climate today is the optimal climate, the best climate that we could have or ever have had and that we need to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t change. First of all, I don’t think it’s within the power of human beings to assure that the climate does not change, as millions of years of history have shown. And second of all, I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.

This morning’s program had a follow-up segment about how this conflicts with the general consensus in the scientific community, and other reports in the media point out that it is at odds with NASA’s own scientists. Even President Bush just came out with a plan to address climate change concerns in advance of a big global warming symposium being held in Germany next week.

The callousness of Griffin’s remarks is what has most people upset, I think. Because under most scenarios studied, significant global warming is going to lead to the death of millions of people. James Burke did a good series on how this will likely play out called After the Warming, and then of course there’s Al Gore’s book and movie An Inconvenient Truth. To have the NASA chief say that it would be arrogant of us to presume that this is “the best climate for all other human beings” seems assinine, at best.

I believe in global warming. I believe that it is likely a huge problem facing us. For the world of Communion of Dreams, set about 50 years hence, I had to deal with what I expect will be the reality of global warming. Since I wanted to deal with other issues, I decided that I needed a way to explain why the effects of global warming hadn’t yet created additional huge problems for humankind. My initial choice was to have an asteroid impact kick up a lot of dust into the stratosphere, and thereby slightly alter the albedo of Earth. When that additional disaster seemed to be too much for my initial readers, I changed it to having a man-made source: limited nuclear exchanges in Asia, creating a mild “nuclear winter” effect. Given that this term was partly a product of Carl Sagan’s scientific research, it seemed a fitting solution. (As I’ve mentioned previously, Sagan was part of my inspiration for Communion.)

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see whether Griffin survives this little climate change in his job situation, created by his own hot air.

Jim Downey


2 Comments so far
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I too was floored by Griffin’s comments. How he could reach a position of such authority while holding these antiquated views is amazing. It is clear that NASA truly lacks leadership and is stuck sending men back to the moon for lack of better plans.

Comment by Greg Jerome

How he could reach a position of such authority while holding these antiquated views is amazing.

I guess I don’t find it in the least bit surprising, and can unfortunately explain it with just two words: George Bush.

But you’re right, it is amazingly antiquated.

Jim Downey

Comment by Communion of Dreams




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