Trump’s 1st NASA appointees suggest future policy


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A memo released January 20 from NASA’s acting administrator accepting the job also announced the first Trump appointees to NASA. The history and policy positions of those two appointees I think once again give us a very clear indication of where NASA might be going in the coming years.

[Acting administrator Robert] Lightfoot, in the memo, said that the administration has appointed Erik Noble to serve as White House senior advisor and Greg Autry to be White House liaison. The two are the first members of the so-called “beachhead team” of administration staffers assigned to NASA, at least on a short-term basis.

Autry is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California who has been a proponent of commercial space activities. Autry was one of eight members of the agency review team, or “landing team,” assigned to NASA by the transition office of then President-elect Trump.

Noble did not serve on the landing team, but worked on the Trump campaign as a political data analyst. Noble, who earned a Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of Colorado, spent seven years at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, working on weather and climate models. [emphasis mine]

Autry, believes strongly in private space, and has also been a critic of SLS/Orion. Being placed at NASA as Trump’s first appointee strongly suggests that a Trump administration is going to accelerate the commercial space push that was begun by the Bush administration and then strongly supported by the Obama administration. It also suggests that the SLS and Orion projects are going to face a difficult future and will likely be phased out.

Noble’s appointment is more important. As a former scientist at the Goddard Institute, he is now well positioned to possibly appoint a new head to that organization, or even become its head himself. The present person in charge there, Gavin Schmidt, has increasingly become suspect as a scientist, instead appearing more as global warming political advocate. Since he took over that Institute, the climate data there has been increasingly tampered with, with past data being cooled and recent data being warmed, thus creating the impression that the Earth’s climate has been warming more than indicated by all previous research. Schmidt’s explanations for these “adjustments” (the term he uses) have never been satisfactory. He then uses the results from these “adjustments” to make annual press releases declaring each year as the “hottest” ever, though the raw data shows no such thing.

Even if Noble does not replace Schmidt, Noble appears well positioned to force Schmidt to either finally justify his data adjustments, or remove them from the data stream so that the raw data will be allowed to dominate policy decisions once again.

4 comments

  • LocalFluff

    NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, is resigning together with Bolden and will also be replaced. Planetary Society’s interview with her last week is only about one thing: Gender equality!!! And this in a non-political context with a science interested audience. NASA can obviously become much better also in other ways than with human spaceflight and launcher developments.
    http://www.planetary.org/multimedia/planetary-radio/show/2017/0116-ellen-stofan-leaves-nasa.html

  • Diane Wilson

    Basic statistics says that noisy data is noisy data, and you can’t “clean” it by adding more noise. Not only does the raw data need to be released, but it needs to be accompanied by site-by-site descriptions of known sources of error, such as instrumentation changes, placement of weather stations near parking lots and air conditioning units, etc.

    Note that most of these sources of error cause the raw data to read high.
    http://surfacestations.org/

  • wodun

    There was an article a few weeks back that talked about how the data needed to be adjusted because water temperature from boats was warmer than those from buoys. So they switched over to buoy measurements and adjusted all of the temps upward. It was a strange article a pro AGW outlet. Wish I had a link but I don’t.

  • Edward

    As Diane Wilson implied, as civilization expands, so do its parking lots, air conditioning units, etc. Thus the surface temperature that we measure can increase due to these reasons yet incorrectly be blamed on CO2.

    The sources of error need to be known, but so does the uncertainty in the final stated value for annual global temperature. I am reminded that NASA announced 2014 was the hottest year ever, but later had to admit that they were 62% certain that their statement was untrue.
    http://www.climatedepot.com/2015/01/18/breaking-noaa-nasa-quietly-conceded-2014-was-probably-not-the-warmest-year-on-record/

    As wodun suggests, if you are making upward adjustments that make no physical sense, then your released data (as opposed to the raw data) are nonsensical and result in claims of a higher than actual global temperature. this is good for AGW advocates, but no good for realistic policy making. It is fudged data.

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