Separate Vacations

This honeymoon is overThe small piece of my attention that was listening to the radio while driving yesterday knew that the guy being interviewed on one of the NPR programs was an upper-tier NASA honcho, and that the subject was climate change, but the rest of my attention was occupied with staying alive in rush-hour traffic, so only some of the words were really getting through. But that changed rather abruptly when the interviewee made a statement to the effect that our existing climate isn't necessarily the best climate, and to suggest otherwise is arrogant. Maybe the guy in the car next to me was listening to the same program and blew an artery when he heard those words, because I was suddenly forced to take evasive action as his car began fishtailing across four lanes of traffic before eventually coming to a stop on the shoulder.

This morning, I thought I'd see if I could find more information on this odd event. I thought perhaps I'd misunderstood, that the guy wasn't really from NASA, or that, maybe, it had all been some kind of elaborate joke. Wrong, wrong, and wrong. As it turns out, the guy was, in fact, NASA administrator Michael Griffin, and yeah, he had uttered those words, and no, he wasn't trying to be funny. By the time I got around to my search, it was plain that Griffin's remarks had already generated a firestorm of controversy, outrage, and of course the obligatory damage-control efforts. To put it mildly, the words hadn't exactly gone unnoticed.

On NPR's site, I found excerpts from the interview I heard on the radio, which leave little doubt about what was said, and what wasn't.

. . . I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take.

It's a novel idea, really, and one that's sure to be the subject of ferocious debate, and ridicule, for some time. I have to admit a certain admiration—a fondness, even—for NASA over the years, and I'm not ready to file for divorce just yet. But it may be time for separate vacations.


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