Wednesday, May 30, 2007

We have a problem Mission Control

Tip of the ear to K. Vranes

UPDATE: Eli is a tired old Rabett who intends to go plant some carrots and lettuce in his garden tonight, so he is more than happy to let Rick Piltz carry some of this load (besides, this crap does not go well with a white fur coat). According to Rick, Jim Hansen had some calming thoughts
“It’s an incredibly arrogant and ignorant statement,” Hansen told ABC News. “It indicates a complete ignorance of understanding the implications of climate change.”
Jim, evidently is in a serious FU mood.

NASA Watch has more on this, but it is by far not the most amusing thing over there, for example,

"NASA SPACE FLIGHT MEDAL ... Lisa M. Nowak [NASA Space Flight Medal (flight crew members) An award given for significant achievement or service during individual participation as a civilian or military astronaut, pilot, mission specialist, payload specialist, or other space flight participant in a space flight mission.]"

She really went off the deep end. On the other hand Lisa is a much nicer character than the the astronette from hell
Finally, indeed! Marsha isn't the only one who displays this behavior, but she is the current poster child, since Jay Greene (her mentor) has retired. Want to know what I did when I learned that Marsha was to be (Constellation Program Office Manager) Jeff Hanley's special assistant? I quit. Turned in my resignation and walked away from NASA and JSC. If Hanley and Griffin have the monumental bad judgement to put Marsha in a place with that kind of power and lack of accountability, the Constellation Program is doomed.
Her reputation Go(e)th before her like a shield.

Houston we have several problems. . .


Tony said...

I think there's an important point to make about the Griffin interview, and that is that the new argument against change is being trotted out. As with all the other ones, it's an oldie, but its time has finally come.

The argument is this: The IPCC and climate science as a field is a political body anyway, so how are we supposed to believe it? (See Joise Appleton's recent miss-the-point piece in Spiked for the purest form of this bullshit.)

This argument has the advantage that climate scientists are, for obvious reasons, reluctant to respond to this. After all, they're scientists, not political advocates! Hence, the denialists make an end-run around the need to address the science, and can even pretend that the science is in their courts. The rubes won't notice anything wrong!

The disadvantage is that this is just a conspiracy theory in sheep's clothing. A cabal of climate modellers want to hold on to their plush research positions and they're holding the world to ransom! Or, those arrogant climate scientists won't admit they're wrong because they would lose too much face. Either way, they've hijacked the IPCC process out of greed or hubris, and the whole world is going to suffer to appease them.

That this is a conspiracy theory may be obvious, but it won't stop its appeal to vast tracts of the public. After all, this is the generation brought up on the X-Files. And some conspiracy theories did indeed turn out to be real (e.g. Watergate).

I think we need to be ready to counter the denialists on what I'm faily sure is going to be the next field of battle.

Anonymous said...

Griffin is a clueless moron. He's a disgrace.

He's typical of Bush admin appointees. Sure, he has a physics background but so what. So does Marburger and that meant nothing in his case.

His statement "I understand that the bulk of scientific evidence accumulated supports the claim that we’ve had about a one degree centigrade rise in temperature over the last century to within an accuracy of 20 percent" just shows how clueless he is. he does not even know the difference between Centigrade and Fahrenheit.

not only that, Griffin does not even realize what his own scientists are saying.

Just this week, Hansen again stressed that we may have only a brief time to get our act together.

The scientists who end up as Bureaucrats (like griffin and marburger) are usually the ones who could not hack it as scientists.

Kevin said...

Groan.... Here we go again. It is no friggin coincidence that this "announcement" is coming on the heals of the G8 Summit next week. Soften up the people when you expect an issue to go sideways. Will be interesting if the US public falls for it.


Anonymous said...

Rick Piltz has a completely bizaree press release put out by NASA, trying to dampen down any blogosphere outrage.

Mus musculus anonymouse

Anonymous said...

From Griffin's bio: "Earlier in his career, Griffin served deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization

That tells you all you need to know about Griffin. Any physicist who would support such a bogus program (scam, really) is either an idiot, a fool or dishonest hack (take your pick).

Ted Postol (MIT), UCS and others have basically shot the idea full of holes. The envisioned mid-course intercept system could easily be rendered effectively useless by simple countermeasures.

Only someone who either does not know anything about physics or who understands the problems but nonetheless keeps quiet to keep his boss happy (and keep his job!) would work on such drivel.

Steve Bloom said...

Hmm, the phrase that came to my mind when I first saw this story was "explode on launch."

His SDI background is interesting. Of course Griffin's chief task just now is implementing Shrub's crazed lunar colonization/Mars landing scheme, which IMHO is very purely a smokescreen for cutting the earth observation programs. It all fits, doesn't it?

flavius collium said...

Guys, calm down here!

He just makes a fool out of himself. I don't know if there's necessarily any big "conspiracy" there in the background. Maybe he is just sucking up to his employers (the white house) this way, knowing that he's on a tight leash and is gonna go to beg for more money later.

If he says that it's not NASA's charter to "battle climate change", then why does he have to essentially talk about "it's arrogant to stop warming" to reveal his ignorance?

People living on coasts might think differently about that btw, some might even say that it's arrogant to release gigatons of CO2 to the air.

I've been following NASA closely and my appreciation for Griffin went down again a few notches.

It's been previously hurt by the whole Ares I debacle where NASA decided to make a new rocket for the new Orion capsule that replaces the shuttle. The analysis against existing launcher alternatives from the industry was grossly unfair. (The ESAS study.)

bigcitylib said...

You guys still call it Centigrade? Up here in the great white North its been Celsius for decades. I haven't heard that term since I was a kid. Get with the program!

Anonymous said...

We're a little slow -- just a little. Centigrade was not dumped until 1954, you know.

One of these centuries, we might even get around to actually using Centigrade. I hear it's going to happen the day we leave Iraq.

-- Horatio Algeranon

Anonymous said...

What do you want to bet Griffin is one of those born-again Evangelicals who think the Rapture is just around the corner so they need not worry about the future?

"Beam me up, Jesus. Over and out."

Mark UK said...

Just goes to show that climate change isn't rocket science...

TokyoTom said...

Griffin`s statement is a clever effort that assumes implicitly that the the fossil fuels industries and others who activities produce climate forcings have a RIGHT to keep on pushing the climate, and to take umbrage at the arrognance of those who worry about all the changes being foisted on them (and a shared enviroenment) by the status quo.

This is exactly like an upstream polluter telling all those downstream/downwind how arrogant they are to want clean water or air - an is consistent will other actions of the Bush administration defending fossil fuel producers and big users.

Arguing the science isn`t enough - Griffin is conceding that the science shows climate is warming and that we are responsible. What he`s doing is defending the turf of one side, pure and simple.

The correct response - in language that Bushies and others will understand - is to state that fossil fuel producers and others have NOT homesteaded a right to release as much carbon into the atmosphere as they wish, free of charge, and to push the costs off onto everyone else. If this is the case, then who`s more arrogant - those who want less climate change, or those now manipulating the levers of government so they can continue this tragedy of the commons?

In a classic pollution case, the choice is not only between cheap steel or electricity vs. clean air and water, but how to accommodate both interests fairly and efficiently. If there are clear and defendable property rights, then the parties can work things out like they do with any other resource. Otherwise, if the costs of inaction are too high, some type of regulatory regime may be necessary - and there is plenty of evidence that regulatory regimes don`t bankrupt the nation (inefficient tho they may be).

Bushies need to be spoken too in language they can understand. So we tell them that, as a matter of fact, we have NO such recognized property rights to change the climate and cannot expect them to develop on their own, and so it is perfectly fair to be requesting the government step in to hep stop the tragedy of the commons.

Yes, that is "rent-seeking" by enviros, but isn`t it pretty clear that the Bush administration has been in the pocket of industry all along (the fossil fuels industry - clean technology firms like GE and Dupont have been ignored).

Are fossil fuel producers (and consumers who don't want to pay for a fully-costed product) evil? No, of course not (we know that ONLY those who want to impose some type of pricing signal are!) - they just rationally want to avoid changing their business models somewhat and to avoid new costs.

It certainly is not "arrogant" to say that there is some kind of problem, and to ask for some kind of solution.

Anonymous said...

"Griffin`s statement is a clever effort..."

Me thinks you give Griffin too much credit here.

I'd say that Griffin's statement is motivated by two things:

1) Complaints (that probably reached a fever pitch lately) from his boss (Bush) for allowing Hansen to hold the microphone.

2) Desire to show Hansen who his boss is (that would be Griffin, though you would never know it from Griffin's job performance )

If there is cleverness behind the remark, chances are it did not originate from Griffin. Griffin is basically a bureaucrat -- a "yes man".

Anonymous said...

Ground control to Director Mike
Ground control to Director Mike:
Take your Prozac pills,
Tell James Hansen to take a hike.
Ground control to Director Mike: Commencing countdown engine's on
Check ig-nition and may Karl's love be with you

This is ground control to Director Mike, you've really made some waves!
And the scientists all want to know whose shirt you wear,
Now it's time to leave your office
If you dare!

This is Director Mike to ground con-trol,
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floundering in the most peculiar way
And the stares look very different today

For here am I shilling for my spin-man, far above the world
Planet Earth is warming and I don't find it very alarming.

Though I've been told one hundred thousand times, I really can't be sure
And it's arrogant to think we know which climate's best,
For my children, their kids and all the rest.

Ground control to Director Mike:
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong.
Can you hear me Director Mike?
Can you hear me Director Mike?
Can you hear me Director Mike? Can you ...

Here am I shilling for my spin-man, far above the world
Planet Earth is warming and I don't find it very alarming.

llewelly said...

Fred Bortz hits the nail on the head - Griffin's implication that those advocating CO2 emissions cuts are 'deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings' is a kind of hubris.

One might ask Griffin: Which human beings -- where and when -- are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that the quite different climate that we will have, due to CO2 emissions, is the best climate for all other human beings?

Anonymous said...

yes, it's quite ironic that Griffin is calling others arrogant when his is the most arrogant position of all.

There is no doubt that humans (especially rich ones) will adapt, but lots of other living things (and poor people) will not -- and will simply go extinct.

Some people may not think it matters -- or perhaps simply don't care -- but they should at least admit as much.

Let's put all the cards face up on the table, shall we?

Anonymous said...

I'd say the most effective way to deal with the environmental and other problems we face is to start hiring people with a clue to fill important government positions.

People like Richard Leaky, for example who understand the full implications of climate change and its possible solutions.

We need to take hiring decisions out of the hands of politicians entirely. The heads of NASA, EPA and other scientific agencies should not be political appointees --period.

-- Horatio Algeranon

Gareth said...

Anonymuse: quite brilliant!

I'll be humming the bloody song all day...

Anonymous said...

Little late for lettuce, dontcha think? Gonna bolt in July.



Anonymous said...

Perhaps Congress should split off NASA's earth science division from the rest, since that division seems to be the only one with competent people these days.

That way, Hansen and his colleagues might not have to deal with so much nonsense. There would still be idiots, but maybe not quite so many.

Of course, the manned space division of NASA would never agree to that because they basically live off the reputation of the people in the earth science division -- parading them before congress like champion horses when it comes time to ask for funding.

It's like the giant, mostly unprofitable company that has one profitable division that it milks until there is nothing left to milk.

Hansen may not have left (yet), but I'd bet that some scientists have. People will only put up with so much crap.

EliRabett said...

Dano, us bunnies munch fast . . . . .

EliRabett said...

Anon 6:04, a friend of mine who is a mission scientist, once told me that "NASA flies bricks". While true on the literal level (ballast in the shuttle I think), it explains the agency. The people who control NASA have always existed to fly or shoot off rockets.

Dano said...

A simple reading of Griffin's comments show that they are repackaged FUD phraseology: 'warming is good for us!!!*heart*!!



Anonymous said...

The people who control NASA have always existed to fly or shoot off rockets."

In recent decades (based on the number of MFU's), I'd say "blow up rockets" is a more apt description.

The people running NASA have had no clue for some time now. Griffin is just the latest in a long (endless?) stream of incompetents.

Anonymous said...

There are some very competent, talented, motivated and independently thinking people in NASA, it's a very mixed organization.
One can see the opinions of some of those people at the forum, which often go against the official line.
-Flavius Collium

Anonymous said...

"There are some very competent, talented, motivated and independently thinking people in NASA,"

That may be true, but they have not been the ones making the decisions. And Over the past few decades, the ones who have been making those decisions -- the leaders -- have largely been idiots. Griffin fits the mold perfectly. Only an idiot would have said what he did.

Also his recent override of the recommendation of his chief safety officer -- who said the Shuttle was not ready to fly -- is further proof of this, for any who need it.

Though NASA has had recent some successes (notably the Rover, which was a success largely because Cornell university was essentially running things), it has a large number of failures -- including the two shuttle disasters which never should have happened.

These failures were due to GROSS incompetence. To argue otherwise is just silly.

TokyoTom said...

Griffin himself might not be too clever, but it`s obvious that there are a load of foxes in the henhouse - and what he`s saying here is deliberate: and a version of "who are you to try to close the door and ask for better caging - outrageous!"

Just part of the big game of the corporate elites to keep fleecing unowned or public resources like the atmosphere, public lands and out treasury.

No hubris here at all - just sheer venality.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I agree that it is deliberate on the part of Griffin's handlers, but Griffin is not smart enough to even realize that he is being used.

If he were, he would not have said what he did, since he would have realized the obvious: it just makes him look like he has no clue what is going on.

Anonymous said...

"Though NASA has had recent some successes (notably the Rover, which was a success largely because Cornell university was essentially running things), it has a large number of failures -- including the two shuttle disasters which never should have happened."

As the introduction to the proposed 3rd edition points out, the failure to use standardized units can result in disastrous consequences, illustrated by the loss of NASA's Mars Climate Orbiter.

Since the Mars Climate orbiter used a differently-sized thruster than Mars Global Surveyor, an update to the thruster equation in the ground software was necessary. The conversion factor from pound-seconds to newton-seconds was buried in the original equation and not immediately identifiable, and so it was not included in the updated equation. Thus, the ground software reported calculated "impulse bits" which were a factor of 4.45 too large (1 pound force = 4.45 newtons). Subsequent processing of the calculated impulse bit values from the AMD file by the navigation software underestimated the effect of the thruster firings on the spacecraft trajectory by this factor.

So we can conclude due to the incompetance of Nasa advisors and their inability to use metrics such as Joules and even thier arguments against such metrics they have still learned little.