The global warming debate was turned up a notch recently, when NASA chief Michael Griffin issued a statement saying he was unsure if global warming was an issue to be "wrestled with" at this time.
This bold statement on the issue of global warming is counter to conventional wisdom, as many scientists feel global warming is one of the top issues facing people around the world.
Griffin has come under fire from Congress in the past because he has cut funding for programs designed to monitor global climate change. However, in a radio interview this past week, Griffen said he had no doubt there is a trend indicating global warming exists, but he told National Public Radio: I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with.James Hansen, NASA's top expert on climate change, was totally caught off-guard by Griffen's statement, saying he "almost fell off [his] chair." Hansen said: It was a shocking statement because of the level of ignorance it indicated with regard to the current situation.Hansen went on to say Griffin must not be aware that more than 170 countries have already agreed that global warming and climate change is a serious issue with worldwide repercussions if the issue is not addressed as soon as possible.
In a statement released later in the day, Griffin did say it is NASA's responsibility to collect, analyze, and then release reports on climate change. However, he said it's not NASA's responsibility to implement policies regarding strategies to combat climate change and global warming.
The Democrats wasted no time in taking pot shots at Griffin: Bart Gordon, D-TN, head of the House Science and Technology committee, issued a statement indicating NASA will not be able to start any new Earth observation programs that were recommended by the National Academies for the foreseeable future. Why? Because of the five year budget that has been implemented. He said: That's not going to get us where we need to be in our understanding of climate change.The League of Conservation Voters is a national pro-environment group calling for Griffin to resign over his outlandish statements. Gene Karpinski, the group's president called his words "deeply troubling."
Karpinski also said global warming is real and humans are contributing to this problem. He said it is not "rocket science" when it comes to taking action in regards to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
And in a case of bad timing, Griffin's comments seemed to go against comments made by U.S. president George W. Bush on the same day. On Friday, Bush called for the major industrialized countries to come together in developing a new global warming pact that will replace the Kyoto Pact, set to expire in 2012.