Trump's new NASA head: Humans contributing in 'major way' to climate change

Trump's new NASA head: Humans contributing in 'major way' to climate change

President Trump's newly minted head of NASA said Thursday that climate change is happening and humans are contributing to it in a "major way."

Jim BridenstineJames (Jim) Frederick BridenstineTrump pick for top NASA role has no past experience in space operations Appeals court nominees languish in Senate as Flake demands tariff vote NASA needs Janet Kavandi if we’re going to make it back to the moon — then Mars MORE, a GOP congressman who was confirmed as the new administrator of NASA last month, made the comments while speaking to employees at his first town hall at NASA headquarters in Washington.

"I don't deny the consensus that the climate is changing, 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.

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"Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. We are putting it to the atmosphere in volumes that we haven't seen and that greenhouse gas is warming the planet. That is absolutely happening and we are responsible for it," he added.

Bridenstine, a former Oklahoma congressman, was narrowly confirmed to lead NASA in April after enduring a months-long Senate confirmation process due to opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.

Democrats argued that he was unqualified for the high-profile scientific spot and too divisive of a politician. As a Republican lawmaker, Bridenstine had made a series of statements questioning climate change, among other controversial views.

During his Senate confirmation hearing last November, Bridenstine wouldn't say how much humans were contributing to climate change.

“I believe carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. I believe that humans are contributing to carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said.

Asked if humans were the primary cause of global warming, Bridenstine responded, “It’s going to depend on a whole lot of factors, and we’re still learning more about that every day. In some years, you could say absolutely. In other years, during sun cycles and other things, there are other contributing factors that would have more of an impact.”

The Senate ultimately voted along party lines to confirm Bridenstine. 

At the town hall Thursday, Bridenstine praised Trump for increasing NASA's earth science budget to the "second highest" in the history of the agency. But he also underscored his wish to keep the agency politics-free.

"We need to make sure that NASA is continuing to do the science and we need to make sure that the science is void and free of political rhetoric," he told those gathered.