Live

Watch CBSN Live

NASA Chief Sparks Global Warming Fury

The head of the U.S. space agency NASA drew criticism from scientists when he said he was not sure global warming was a problem, and it would be "arrogant" to assume the world's climate should not change in the future.

"I have no doubt that global — that a trend of global warming exists," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a taped interview that aired Thursday on National Public Radio. "I am not sure that it is fair to say that is a problem we must wrestle with."

"I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take," Griffin said.

Jerry Mahlman, a former top scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who is now at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said Griffin's remarks showed he was either "totally clueless" or "a deep anti-global warming ideologue."

James Hansen, a top NASA climate scientist, said Griffin's comments showed "arrogance and ignorance," because millions of people probably will be harmed by global warming in the future.

White House science adviser Jack Marburger said he was not disturbed by Griffin's remarks but distanced them from President Bush, who announced an international global warming proposal Thursday.

"It's pretty obvious that the NASA administrator was speaking about his own personal views and by no means representing or attempting to represent the administration's views or broader policy," Marburger told The Associated Press. "He's got a very wry sense of humor and is very outspoken."

NASA spokesman David Mould said the radio interviewer was trying to push Griffin into saying something about global warming. NASA's position is that it provides scientific data on the issue, but policymakers are the ones who decide, he said.