May 23, 2018

NASA chief fully accepts dominant human role in global warming

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine watches the launch of NASA's InSight spacecraft on May 5, 2018 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA via Getty Images.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Wednesday endorsed the findings of a major federal report — which reflects the wider scientific consensus — that human activities are the main driver of global warming.

Why it matters: Bridenstine's remarks before a Senate Appropriations panel make him the first top Trump administration official to publicly and fully agree that humans have been the dominant cause of warming.

The impact: His comments are also significant because NASA plays a leading role in federal climate monitoring and research.

  • Bridenstine made similar comments at a NASA town hall last week, but those remarks stopped shy of fully acknowledging the dominant role of human-caused emissions.

One level deeper: Bridenstine also endorsed a multi-agency federal report, largely written in the Obama years, but released in 2017, that strongly reaffirmed this consensus.

"The National Climate Assessment, that includes NASA, and it includes the Department of Energy, and it includes NOAA, has clearly stated that it is extremely likely . . . that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, and I have no reason to doubt the science that comes from that."
— Bridenstine in response to a question from Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz

Asked if he agreed with the scientific consensus, backed by experts including NASA researchers, that humans are the leading cause of climate change, Bridenstine responded: "Yes."

In the past, Bridenstine has expressed skepticism of mainstream climate science, and on Wednesday he acknowledged that his views have evolved.

Go deeper: The Climate Science Special Report

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,202,236 — Total deaths: 64,703 — Total recoveries: 246,198Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 311,301 — Total deaths: 8,476 — Total recoveries: 14,694Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. The virus is hitting poor, minority communities harder and upending childbirth.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. "We're having the convention at the end of August."
  5. Business updates: Restaurants step up for health care workers. Employees are pressuring companies to provide protections during coronavirus.
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  7. Education update: Many college-age students won't get coronavirus relief checks.
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World coronavirus updates: Confirmed cases top 1.2 million

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The number of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 1.2 million worldwide Saturday night, as Spain overtook Italy as the country with the most infections outside the U.S. The global death toll has surpassed 64,700, per Johns Hopkins data.

The latest: The United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II will speak in a televised address on the coronavirus Sunday of the "disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all," per the BBC. The U.K. death toll rose 708 to 4,313 on Saturday — the fourth highest in the world.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 56 mins ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 8,400

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the coronavirus surpassed 8,400 in the U.S. on Saturday, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day for the past four days, since April 1.

The big picture: President Trump said Saturday America's is facing its "toughest week, between this week and next week." Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. should expect to see deaths continue to rise in this period.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health