Conservatives aren't opposed to science and progress, insists former astronaut and one-time New Mexico Republican Sen. Harrison Schmitt — they're more concerned that government funding is corrupting scientific endeavors.
"The national media have their own agenda, and they play their opinion of conservatives against that agenda," Schmitt, a former astronaut, told Newsmax TV during the weekend's Restoration Weekend in Palm Beach, Fla..
Instead, government funding corrupts science, Schmitt said, particularly in the field of climate change.
"If all your money is coming from one client and a client that has a political agenda, well then that will tend to buy scientists toward trying to get money and writing your proposals to get your money from that client," said Schmitt.
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But there are some well-funded people who are using their own money for independent science and engineering research, he said, naming such giants as Microsoft's Paul Allen, Oracle's Larry Ellison, and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.
"That's what it used to be," said Schmitt. "The private sector used to fund scientific research, used to fund graduate students because they wanted well-trained people in their businesses and in their industries."
But the government has a different agenda, Schmitt said, and "funds science in order to get opinions that support government political policy, and that's a very dangerous situation right now for science. More and more people are starting to realize that government funding is corrupt."
Schmitt was the last man to set foot on the moon as a member of the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. He had one term in the Senate from 1977-1983 when he was the GOP's ranking member on the Science, Technology and Space Sub-committee. He was later chairman of the NASA Advisory Council before quitting in 2008,
He denied claims that the world's global warming issues would be solved if 80 percent of carbon energy sources were eliminated, saying those claims are more based on politics than science.
"There's a great deal of politics behind that, particularly the wish by many and — unfortunately apparently — also some scientists that government exert more control over our society," said Schmitt, saying science shows that nature and the sun are in charge of climate control and that modeling that blames global warming on human causes is falling apart.
"It particularly fell apart in the last decade and a half when we haven't had any global warming," said Schmitt. "The models very strongly predict that we should have."
Instead he attributed the rise of carbon dioxide levels to other sources besides human activities.
"Indeed, it's very hard to find a signature of human activities in the carbon dioxide that has been increasing," he said. Global warming has been slow, "about 1 degree Fahrenheit per 100 years for about 350 years since the bottom of the little Ice Age," and that is determined "primarily by what the sun is doing.
He said the sun is warming the oceans, which release carbon dioxide, "and the modelers do not take that into account."
There are many scientists who are skeptical of what the models predict, Schmitt said, and "these scientists are looking at observations, they're looking at history, they're looking at geology and the geological history of the Earth and they find that it is an extraordinary conflict system and in fact probably too complex to model in computers."
But Schmitt wouldn't say that the whole global warming concern should be examined objectively.
"Global warming scientifically has occurred in the past, it's cyclic, it goes up and down," said Schmitt. "The question is, is it being caused by human activity and there is very little evidence that on a global scale that human activity is having an impact on climate."
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