Are 49 Former NASA Astronauts, Scientists and Engineers Climate Change Deniers?

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Sign of the apocalypse?

The blogosphere is buzzing about a letter sent to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden by 49 former NASA astronauts, scientists, and engineers complaining about the agency's promotion of "catastrophic forecasts" of man-made climate change. The full letter via The Financial Post is below:

 March 28, 2012

The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.

NASA Administrator

NASA Headquarters

Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

Dear Charlie,

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA's history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA's advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA's current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

Thank you for considering this request.

It seems unlikely that Bolden will do anything to change NASA GISS' official position on the looming dangers of climate change.

Update: I posted this item at 5:40 pm and 15 minutes later received an email from NASA GISS researcher Gavin Schmidt. I asked him if he'd like me to post his email as update and he sent me the version below:

Neither GISS, nor NASA in general, ever take 'positions' on scientific matters. This is well explained by the Chief Scientist, Waleed Abdalati,

http://spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=36679

and is basically a restatement of the ex-Adminstrator's comments many years ago:

http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/griffin_science.html

What the letter writers are advocating for is for the NASA bureaucracy to limit other scientists' freedom of speech, and that is something that I am surprised that you would support.

Oddly, I don't think that reporting a newsworthy letter by the 49 signatories suggests that I support limiting anyone's freedom of speech.

On the other hand, I do happen to know of a current case in which a federal researcher whose freedom of speech is being limited (in the sense his superiors threaten to fire him) if he doesn't stop publishing work skeptical of various environmental shibboleths. Unfortunately, I am not a liberty to identify this researcher.

In any case, if readers are interested in the private "official position" of NASA GISS chief researcher, James Hansen, they may want to consider reading (as I did) his book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity.