Let's Meet Jim Bridenstine, Trump's NASA Administrator

Politicizing NASA is the final frontier. Or I guess I should say, it was.

When the Senate confirmed Jim Bridenstine as the agency’s administrator last month, it confirmed the first politician to ever hold the post. The vote broke along party lines, and in many ways, the selection reflects the yawning chasm that defines American politics and government in 2018.


Let’s hope Bridenstine, who is now a former Congressman from Oklahoma, manages to run the agency in a way that isn’t reflective of that chasm. But he’s got a lot of proving to do. In a 2013 speech on the floor of Congress, he falsely said “global temperatures stopped rising 10 years ago” and that “global temperature changes, when they exist, correlate with Sun output and ocean cycles.” He changed his tune a bit in his confirmation hearing and promised to protect scientists, which is good, but it’s unclear what sparked his turnaround on climate at a suddenly opportune time.

Prior to his Congressional career, he ran the nonprofit Tulsa Air and Space Museum. During that time, the museum racked up losses, which isn’t exactly heartening given that NASA’s $18.4 billion budget is a bit bigger than the museum’s budget of around $1.6 million. Oh, and he also used museum funds to pay a company he co-owned that raced rocket-powered aircraft. That company subsequently went under. If you can’t get people stoked on rocket racing, well, how’re you gonna run NASA?

There’s a lot at stake for NASA right now, between new missions to Mars and new missions to study the Earth. By and large, the space industry seems to have faith that Bridenstine can shoulder this massive responsibility. Time will tell if they’re right.

Managing editor at Earther, writing about climate change, environmental justice, and, occasionally, my cat.


Dense non aqueous phase liquid

A lot of Okies from the oil patch are suddenly showing an interest in earth and space. Kids love space and science fiction shit so it makes sense.

This cool app climate dashboard from NOAA is not about space. Please visit www.climate.gov while it’s still up. It shows the time dependent measurements of sun’s energy (as a flux), earth’s surface temp as a global anomaly deviating from a global periodic average and carbon dioxide accumulation.

The first graph is sun’s energy in watts per square meter. This is the energy that reaches the surface averaged over the entire planet. There’s some oscillation on an eleven year period. Our sun’s almost 60 year trend is pretty constant despite waviness, though. Only an oil patch fuckstain would blame earth’s heat accumulation on the sun and not on burnt oil and gas.

The next graph is the global average temperature. It keeps going up. Yes there was that period between 1998 and 2012 where temp anomaly seemed to not rise. But that’s been explained through the relationship between earth’s atmosphere and water. The atmosphere experiences almost perfect mixing compared to the ocean. A big chunk of atm heat is going into the ocean, where the currents bring it down, down, down into the deep (around Antarctica). Our El Nino/La Nina cycle explains this. The heat (and mass transfer) can be assumed a semi-infinite slab, with the atmosphere being a CSTR and the ocean mass and energy highly rate controlled. That was chem eng speak, sorry.

The final graph is the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atm. It keeps going up.

What the fuck is wrong with Trump, New Yorkers? Is he typical of all yalls?