Category Archives: Science And Society

Greg Autry

is one of the first political appointees to NASA. That’s good news, I think. He knows what a programmatic disaster SLS is.

[Monday-morning update]

Thoughts from Bob Zimmerman, who agrees that it’s potentially bad news for SLS/Orion (i.e., good news for people who want to actually accomplish things in space with NASA funding).

As he notes, it’s probably also bad news for Gavin Schmidt and GISS.

We Have A New POTUS

I’m glad Obama’s gone. I’m less thrilled that we have Trump. As others have noted, it was a pretty protectionist inaugural address.

But I’m happy with his picks, and I think that Gelernter would be a good pick for science adviser. And here’s one more reason Trump won.

[Update a couple minutes later]

And yes, Trump should defund the National Endowment for the Arts.

Our Petition For Rehearing

We’ve requested a rehearing en banc (that is, the full court) by the DC court of appeals on the mistaken ruling in December of a division of that court. Amici (and I’d expect at least as many as the last time) have another week to file.

[Late-morning update]

Cato has filed an amicus brief:

Political thinkers would certainly like to believe that historical analogies are integral to expressing their views on important political choices. Just in the last year, one candidate for office has been compared to Hitler, 21 Hitler, 22 Hitler, 23 Hitler, 24 and Mussolini. 25 Indeed, that public figure was so annoyed by this criticism that he threatened to “open up the libel laws” to prevent such speech in the future. Luckily for him, the division’s decision has done this work for him.

I don’t think they realize what a can of worms they opened.

[Later-afternoon update]

National Review has also filed a petition.

The “Warmest Year On Record”

#ProTip to “scientists.” We have never been heading into a “known” climate. At least they included some cautionary voices, from people like Christie, Pielke, and Curry, even if they shoved them to the end.

And speaking of Judith, she has some thoughts on the “social costs” of carbon:

The bottom line is: water, food, energy. Heck, even the folks attending Davos get it. People need it and large numbers of people want more of it. And there are more and more people all the time. A single minded focus on reducing CO2 emissions neglects a lot of real problems facing many nations across the globe.

Climate variability and change impacts water, food and energy. But there isn’t much we can do to influence the climate on the timescale of the 21st century — however much we have impacted the climate over the past 70 years or so, those impacts (large or small) will work their way through climate system over the next centuries as the oceans act as a big flywheel on the climate system.

Back to the question posed by Revkin: Will Trump’s climate team accept any social cost of carbon? Well, I hope not.

I hope not, too. The uncertainty is far too great.

[Update a while later]

As usual, the “threats to science” come from the Left.

Medical Incompetence And Junk Science

This is a frightening story. It’s why I try to avoid hospitals at all costs.

I asked Dr. G, who is now his personal cardiologist, if we needed to do anything to prevent his potassium from going so low again. He said, “If he stays off that drug, he will be fine.” To think that he went through all this because his GP gave him a drug to prevent heart attacks!! What a crazy world we live in.

…The blood pressure medication Dean had taken for 20 years was hydrochlorothiazide. It is the most commonly prescribed medication for blood pressure, not because it is safe or effective, but because it is the one insurance companies choose to pay for!

The dietary and general medical ignorance on display, and the rules, are almost criminal. And I’m sure this is the kind of treatment that my father got when he died of his second heart attack, in 1979. And I consider my high blood pressure (with which I’ve been living otherwise healthily for many decades) to be less risk than most of the prescribed “treatments.”

Geoengineering, Space Tech, And Societal Risk

Some interesting thoughts from Oliver Morton (who I unfortunately missed having lunch with in London last week, maybe next time):

AI worries people more, but geoengineering seems pretty well placed in second place. (Incidentally, what’s up with space as the top societal risk enhancer? If AI takes the laurels in terms of economy, geopolitics and tech, how come space outdoes it in the exacerbation of societal risks? A mystery for another time…)

Indeed. I have some ideas, and that some it arises from ignorance and too much bad SF in television and movies, but I’ll let the commenters have at it.

Pity Eric Holthaus

He’s having a climate meltdown. Which reminds me: Did he ever get that vasectomy?

[Update mid morning]