Harrison Schmitt

Harrison Schmitt

Harrison H. Schmitt

 Credentials

  • Ph.D., Geology, Harvard University, 1964.
  • B.S., California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 1957.

Source: [1]

 Background

Dr. Harrison Schmitt is a geologist who worked as a scientist-astronaut with NASA from 1965 to 1975. He is noted as being the last of the Apollo astronauts to arrive and set foot on the Moon.

After resigning from NASA, Schmitt was elected to serve as a senator for New Mexico.  He served one term from 1977 to 1982. From 1994 to 1998, Harrison Schmitt served as chairman and president of the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. He now serves as a chairman emeritus.

Schmitt was picked by New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez to direct the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department in January, 2011. [2]

Harrison Schmitt is a self-proclaimed climate skeptic, and is on the board of the Heartland Institute as well as the contrarian Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy.

Apart from denying the existence of man-made global warming, the Annapolis Center has spent considerable effort calling into question the link between air pollution and asthma, the impacts of mercury pollution, and the dangers of pesticide residue on food.

Since 1998, ExxonMobil has given $973,500 to the Annapolis Center.  In 2004, at the Center's annual dinner, it honored Senator James Inhofe for his work in “promoting science-based public policy.”

While Harrison Schmitt served as chairman and president of the Annapolis Center, he was affiliated with Sallie Baliunas. Baliunas was a member of the Annapolis Center's Science and Economic Advisory Council. 

According to ExxonSecrets, Baliunas is the “central scientist in the fight against action on climate change. She is used by virtually all of the Exxon-funded front groups as their scientific expert.” Baliunas has also been affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI).

Stance on Climate Change

Dr. Schmitt does not agree with the theory that human activity is responsible for global warming. He states that “human experience, geological data and history, and current cooling argue otherwise.” Schmitt is so ardent in this belief that in 2009 he resigned from the Planetary Society. [3]

In his letter of resignation, Schmitt told the Planetary society that “'consensus,' as many have said, merely represents the absence of definitive science. You know as well as I, the 'global warming scare' is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making. It has no place in the Society's activities.”

Key Quotes

“I don't think the human effect [of climate change] is significant compared to the natural effect.” [4]

“[T]he great champion of the opponents of liberty, namely communism, had to find some other place to go and they basically went into the environmental movement.” [5]

“In Antarctica, it looks like the total volume (of ice) is increasing and if that's true, that's probably why you're getting increased ice moving away from the center of the continent and therefore these big icebergs and stuff are breaking off.” [5]

“We know that carbon dioxide has been a much larger fraction of the earth's atmosphere than it is today, and the geological record shows that life flourished on land and in the oceans during those times. The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.” [26]

Key Deeds

May 8, 2013

Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer co-author an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide.” [26] The authors submit that no chemical compound in the atmosphere has a worse reputation than CO2, thanks to the “single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control and energy production.” [26] The conclusion of the article states that, “The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.” [26]

May 21 - 23, 2012

Harrison Schmitt was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's 7th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland's ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations.

Heartland's president Joe Bast revealed at the end of the conference that the Institute has no plans for future ICCCs. This could be in part due to the defections of corporate sponsors following Heartland's unsuccessful Unabomber billboard campaign and the unintended release of their confidential documents.

March 28, 2012

Schmitt was one of 49 former NASA scientists to sign an open letter to NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to cease their “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change.” [20]

“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated,” The letter stated.

SkepticalScience published a critique on the claims made in the letter, which was also republished in The Guardian. [21], [22]

January 27, 2012

Schmitt signed a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed titled “No Need to Panic About Global Warming.”

The piece begins, stating “There's no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to 'decarbonize' the world's economy.” [6]

Sixteen other “scientists” are listed as signatories including Claude Allègre, J. Scott Armstrong, Jan Breslow, Roger Cohen, William Happer, William Kininmonth, Richard Lindzen, James McGrath, Rodney Nichols, Burt RutanNir Shaviv, Edward David, Michael Kelly, and Henk Tennekes.

It has received criticism from numerous sources (see here [7], here, [8], and here [9] for example.)

Media Transparency also examined Op-Ed and concluded that most of the scientists have never published articles in peer-reviewed journals on the subject of climate change. They also contacted economist William Nordhaus who said that the WSJ was guilty of a “Complete Mischaracterization Of My Work.” [10]

SkepticalScience also did a comprehensive examination of the sixteen signatories and connected many to fossil fuel interests, and noted that many of the scientists did not have experience directly relating to climate science. [11]

June 30 - July 1, 2011

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC6).

See video of his presentation here. [12]

May, 2010

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change. His speech was titled “Constitutional Constraints on Regulation Related to Climate and Energy.” [13]

The conference's theme was “Reconsidering the Science and Economics,” and its purpose was “the same as it was for the first three events: to build momentum and public awareness of the global warming 'realism' movement.”

June, 2009

Harrison Schmitt was a keynote speaker the Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC3). [14]

The conference’s theme was “Climate Change: Scientific Debate and Economic Analysis” to reflect Heartland's belief that that “scientific debate is not over,” and it was designed to “call attention to widespread dissent to the asserted 'consensus' on various aspects of climate change and global warming.”

2009

Harrison sent a “white paper” to NASA titled “Observations Necessary for Useful Global Climate Models” (PDF).

Skeptical Science debunked his paper, and reported that Harrison used a “Impressive number of skeptic arguments.” [15]

The paper points to research by fellow climate change skeptics Syun Akasofu, and David Douglass.

According to Schmitt, “Given what we actually know about climate, as well as the remaining uncertainties, Americans should think long and hard before giving up liberties and incomes to politicians and bureaucrats who just want to 'do something' to satisfy a particular special interest.” He describes climate change legislation as a “long-term political agenda to gather power at the expense of liberty.”

Schmitt's arguments were backed by Joseph Bast of the Heartland Institute.

 Affiliations

 Publications

According to Google Scholar, Schmitt has not published any peer-reviewed articles on climate change.

 Resources

  1. Biographical Data: Harrison H. Schmitt (Ph.D.),” Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. Accessed February 2, 2012. Archived February 2, 2012 with WebCite.

  2. Matthew Reichbach. “Martinez’s pick for enviro chief: Environmentalists are communists,” The New Mexico Independent, January 26, 2011. Archived with WebCite, February 2, 2012.

  3. Tony Hake. “Former astronaut Harrison Schmitt calls global warming a 'political tool',” Examiner.com, February 16, 2009. Archived with WebCite February 2, 2012.

  4. Ex-Astronaut: Global Warming Is Bunk,” Associated Press, February 16, 2009. Published at FoxNews.com. Archived with WebCite February 2, 2012.

  5. George Zornick. “New Mexico Governor Appoints Man Who Believes Environmentalists Are Communists To Head State Agency,” ThinkProgress, January 26, 2011.

  6. No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2012. Archived by WebCite, February 2, 2012.

  7. Michael Tobis. “The Wall Street Journal, Again,” Planet3.0, January 27, 2012.

  8. Chris Moony. “On Global Warming, Should You Trust the Wall Street Journal, or Chevron, ExxonMobil and the Defense Department??,” The Intersection, January 30, 2012.

  9. Peter Frumhoff. “Dismal Science at the Wall Street Journal,” The Equation, January 27, 2012.

  10. The Journal Hires Dentists To Do Heart Surgery,” Media Transparency, January 30, 2012.

  11. The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction,” Skeptical Science, January 31, 2012.

  12. 4th International Conference on Climate Change” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Accessed February, 2012 from the University of Hartford's server (From the Web Page of Laurence Gould).

  13. 4th International Conference on Climate Change” (PDF), the Heartland Institute. Accessed February, 2012 from the University of Hartford's server (From the Web Page of Laurence Gould).

  14. Harrison Schmitt,” Speaker profile at International Conference on Climate Change (climateconference.heartland.org). Accessed February, 2012.

  15. James Cook. “Articgate: perpetuating the myth that Arctic sea ice has recovered,” Skeptical Science, February 7, 2011.

  16. The Annapolis Center’s Board of Directors,” The Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy. Archived October 20, 2001.

  17. Board of Directors,” The Heartland Institute.  Accessed February, 2012. Archived with WebCite February 2, 2012.

  18. Heartland Experts: Harrison Schmitt,” Accessed February 2, 2012.

  19. Harrison H. Schmitt (SME),” The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers. Accessed February, 2012. Archived February 2, 2012, by WebCite.

  20. Gus Lubin. “49 Former NASA Scientists Send A Letter Disputing Climate Change,” Business Insider, April 11, 2012.

  21. NASA Climate 'Skeptics' Respond with Science! Just Kidding,” SkepticalScience, April 12, 2012.

  22. Attacks on climate science by former NASA staff shouldn't be taken seriously,” The Guardian, April 12, 2012.

  23. Harrison Schmitt,” Wikipedia Entry.

  24. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Harrison H. Schmitt.

  25. Harrison Schmitt,” SourceWatch Profile.

  26. In Defense of Carbon Dioxide,” The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2013.

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