If you think it’s impossible to reach those who deny the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, think again.
The current head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a longtime denier of man-made climate change who was nominated by Donald Trump last year, has changed his mind on the issue. He first announced the change in perspective last month — see the video below — but now he’s going into detail about why.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, a former congressman from Oklahoma who was sworn in this past April, says that his mind was changed only after hearing from “a lot of experts.” He “read a lot,” according to an interview with the Washington Post.
In the interview, Bridenstine said there was no single event that cause him to change his thinking. As chairman of the Environment subcommittee, he said he “listened to a lot of testimony. I heard a lot of experts, and I read a lot. I came to the conclusion myself that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that we’ve put a lot of it into the atmosphere and therefore we have contributed to the global warming that we’ve seen. And we’ve done it in really significant ways.”
This is no small thing considering Bridenstine is a conservative Republican nominated by Trump and confirmed by a GOP-majority Senate. It’s also welcome news to a science community that’s been besieged by the Right, including through other government science-based agencies run by people who have no respect for the facts.
Even more importantly, though, I think it can be an example for the rest of us. If this man can change his mind on a controversial issue, despite the severe political backlash that’s sure to follow from conservatives, maybe there’s hope for others who hold views that aren’t based on evidence.
It’s also important to hear this claim from a member of an administration that has a history of denying humanity’s influence on the climate.
President Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have not made similar pronouncements, however.
Trump has long denied climate change is real, once saying without evidence that it was “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”
Last December, the president tweeted during a period of cold weather that “perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming.”
In March, Pruitt told CNBC that he didn’t think humans were a primary contributor to climate change, saying there’s “tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact.”
He’s lying. There isn’t “tremendous disagreement.” There is an incredibly clear consensus among scientists in the climate field. The disagreement comes almost entirely from conservative ideologues looking to cast doubt on the experts. Anyone who follows the evidence can see how much humans have contributed to radical shifts in the climate.
Thankfully, the NASA chief is now on the side of science and evidence… at least on this critical issue. If only he could convince Trump, Pruitt, and the rest of the science deniers in this administration.
(Screenshot via YouTube)