News Flash: Astronaut Solves the Climate Problem

Dr. Bill Chameides, dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, blogs regularly at

Since the later days of the 19th century, scientists have been pondering the warming effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) on the climate. So you can imagine my surprise to read on Sunday that the entire scientific community has been scooped by former U.S. senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM), also an astronaut who walked on the moon. Schmitt has at last uncovered the truth: there is no climate problem.

Harrison Schmitt has decided he is not going take it anymore. He resigned from the Planetary Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to the advancement of space exploration, because it concluded along with the vast majority of the scientific community that the globe is warming because of human-caused emissions of greenhouse gas pollutants like CO2.

Interestingly, the Planetary Society is not alone in its position. Other groups reaching similar conclusions of human-caused warming include:

Against the weight of all these scientific experts stands Harrison Schmitt.

They say the globe is warming because of human activities and he says it is not.  Where did he get his superior scientific insight? Was it from his stroll on the moon - after all that's pretty lofty stuff. Or maybe it was gained during his years serving in the Senate, a body renowned for its scientific and technical expertise.

Schmitt is apparently concerned that scientists are being intimidated and are losing "grant funding when they haven't gone along with the so-called political consensus that we're in a human-caused global warming."

This is all news to me. While I agree that there is a scientific consensus, I had not realized until I heard it from Schmitt that there was also a "political consensus." Strange since one would have thought that if there were a political consensus we would already have had climate legislation in the United States. Could it be that the Senate has some kind of arcane rules that prevents it from passing legislation even if there is a consensus? Perhaps the former senator from New Mexico could fill us in on that.

I was also surprised to hear that scientists were losing their grants for not going along with the idea that humans were causing global warming. Stop me if I am wrong, but didn't we just go through eight years of an administration that denied that or questioned how much of global warming was caused by humans and did its best to obfuscate and bury evidence to the contrary? I would have thought that under those circumstances scientists who accepted that humans are causing global warming were more likely to lose funding. Here again I am dazzled by Schmitt's superior understanding and insight.

But there's more. In addition to shooting down global warming science, the former astronaut has toppled major scientific theories that have nothing to do with the climate.

For example, as reported by the AP, Schmitt has apparently figured out that CO2 concentrations are increasing because the temperature is increasing. That's a really amazing scientific breakthrough. You see, the conclusion that the atmospheric CO2 increase is due to burning fossil fuels is based on isotopic data, which in turn is based on fundamental atomic and nuclear theory. So Schmitt's conclusion overturns not only global warming science but all of atomic and nuclear theory.

Who knows where this may lead - could it turn out that there really is no such thing as a nuclear bomb? If so, I would be the first to nominate Schmitt for the Nobel Peace Prize. What greater contribution could there be to peace than removing the threat of nuclear war? And how very fitting for him to get the prize right on the heels of Al Gore.  

What a great country this is, where we have folks like former astronaut Harrison Schmitt. He can walk on the moon, he can go to the Senate, and then he can (try to) undo decades of scientific research just by saying it isn't so.

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