Opinion: Appointee for NASA Administrator Unqualified Choice for Position
Based on its name, one would assume that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration involves space and flying, which equates to engineering and science. However, NASA Appointee Jim Bridenstine fits into neither of these criteria.
House Representative Jim Bridenstine was selected as the NASA administrator by President Trump in September.
One of the major concerns listed by numerous people, including other politicians and news agencies like The Huffington Post and Politico, is Bridenstine’s comments regarding his disbelief in global warming. When questioned about his remark, he responded that researchers and scientists are “just scratching the surface” of what we know about Earth and its systems. That answer is vague enough to apply to either side of the argument; it does not affirm my faith in him as a man of sound science.
In contrast, the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that, “Every one of the past 40 years has been warmer than the 20th century average.” Global warming is not a conspiracy or a ploy to get people to carpool more; it exists because of the gradual increase in the amount of fossil fuel burning over the years, which, over time, has released an inane amount carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
NASA is a key component to understanding Earth science and aiding with research because of NASA’s access to tools and data provided by satellites and other resources. But with a new administrator who is not worried about the increase in temperature on planet Earth, initiatives to lower the carbon dioxide emissions will probably cease.
Not only does Jim Bridenstine have no formal education in the areas of engineering and science, but he does not have enough experience as a leader for a national, multifaceted association. Although Bridenstine is the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, running the United States’ main agency that controls the country’s aeronautics programs is a lot more complex than managing a gift shop and preserving historical artifacts.
Acting as the head of NASA requires the management and oversight of countless organizations and teams working with you. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson commented that, “The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician.” Authority is crucial when managing an organization because, regardless of his power and position, no one will respect Bridenstine as the leader of NASA without any authority or expertise in the science and engineering fields.
The former NASA administrator, Charles F. Bolden Jr., worked as head of the agency for seven years before resigning when Trump became president in January. Prior to his appointment as NASA administrator, General Bolden worked for NASA as an astronaut for 14 years. He was also the chief executive officer of a small business that, according to NASA, “provid(ed) leadership, military and aerospace consulting, as well as motivational speaking.” This reputable man had a plethora of experience in the fields of science and a thorough understanding of NASA from his history of working for the company.
The most formidable experience Bridenstine has is sitting on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in Congress. According to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, “The (c)ommittee… has jurisdiction over all energy research, development and demonstration, … projects(,) … astronautical research and development, … (and) National Aeronautics and Space Administration.” The politicians sitting on the committee have power over NASA, but overseeing a company does not provide one with the skills to run said company. I doubt that most of the politicians on this committee have a thorough comprehension of the infrastructure and inner workings of NASA and enough of an understanding to run that agency.
The leader of a national organization needs to not only be well-educated, but he or she needs to be a respected individual in society. As a politician, Bridenstine is in the spotlight more often than most, but certain questionable remarks and behaviors do not make him a respectable candidate to represent NASA and make the decisions for our country’s space program.