Climate change denying Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma has been tapped by President Donald Trump to head NASA—now a bipartisan group of Senators say he is in for a rocky confirmation hearing.
They say Bridenstine doesn’t have the scientific chops to lead the space agency that put a man on the moon and has never been lead by a member of Congress in its 60-year history.
“I think he faces a tough fight because he's been outspoken in some areas that having nothing to do with NASA,” Republican Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma told the Associated press Wednesday. Inhofe has called climate change a hoax.
Counter to Inhofe’s claim, NASA does conduct and publish climate change research and monitors the earth’s climate with American satellites.
President Trump has called climate change a “hoax” that was cooked up by the Chinese to hurt the American economy. He pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement this spring.
Chair of the House Science Committee Bob Walker has advocated for Trump to stop NASA’s climate change studies. NASA is an independent agency, the future of its projects rely on the favour of the president and his appointee to head the agency.
Like Trump, Bridensteine is an outspoken critic of climate science. In a 2016 interview he said the climate “has always changed,” citing “there were periods of time long before the internal combustion engine when the Earth was much warmer than it is today.”
“Going back to the 1600s, we have had mini Ice Ages from then to now,” he said.
The vast majority of climate scientists disagree with his assessment of the changing climate. Evidence shows up in the shrinking Arctic ice sheet, animal migrations, and sharply rising trends in carbon emissions since 1900. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change regularly issues reports tracking human-induced climate change.
In the interview Bridensteine argued that “if you look at the Chinese and the Russian and the Indian production of carbon emissions, it is overwhelmingly massive compared to the carbon footprint of the United States of America.” The U.S. is the world’s second largest carbon emitter after China, contributing 29.5 percent of global carbon emissions.