Former Oklahoma Congressman Bridenstine Appears to Have New Outlook on Climate Change

May 18, 2018

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks to agency employees at a town hall.
Credit NASA

From a November Senate nomination hearing to his first town hall as NASA administrator this week, Jim Bridenstine seems to have changed his position on climate change.

"Humans are contributing and have contributed to the climate change that we have seen," Bridenstine told the Senate panel Nov. 1.

"Are they the primary cause?" said Sen. Brian Schatz.

"In some years, you could say absolutely. In other years, during sun cycles and other things, there are other contributing factors that would have maybe more of an impact," Bridenstine said.

Speaking to NASA employees on Thursday, Bridenstine had a different take.

"Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We’re putting it into the atmosphere in volumes that, you know, we haven’t seen, and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening, and we are responsible for it," Bridenstine said.

At the NASA town hall, Bridenstine recalled saying in 2013 that Earth’s temperature hadn’t risen for 10 years. In 2013, Bridenstine also said President Obama was wasting money to study global warming.

"But after that pause, it started going up immediately, like the next year, right? And now there’s this spike. And then it, you know, for the last two years it’s gone down a little bit. But here’s the point: I don’t deny the consensus that the climate is changing," Bridenstine said. "In fact, I fully believe and know that the climate is changing. I also know that we, human beings, are contributing to it in a major way."

Bridenstine said he’ll heed a new decadal survey telling NASA to look at things like Earth’s climate, weather and air quality forecasting, and sea level rise.

"We have guidance from an apolitical, nonpartisan National Academy of Science telling us what is important for humanity, and we’re going to follow it," Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine said NASA has the most credibility on climate change research.