Latest posts by Harrison Schmitt (see all)
- JFK and the Moon: Anatomy of a Historic Decision - November 22, 2013
- In Defense of Carbon Dioxide - July 7, 2013
- Apollo 17 Astronaut Harrison Schmitt on Neil Armstrong - August 30, 2012
Reactions to recent events by Harrison Schmitt — Heartland Institute Board member, former U.S. Senator (R-N.M.), and the last man (and first scientist) to set foot on the moon. (Cross-posted at America’s Uncommon Sense):
Although one should not be surprised by anything the Obama administration does, the list now includes a politically cynical decision by NASA to not house one of the retired Space Shuttles at or near the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This NASA Center has been the focal point of American human spaceflight operations since 1962 as well as the design, training, and operations focus of all Space Shuttle missions. No other location has a stronger claim for long-term care of a Space Shuttle than Johnson, certainly stronger than New York City. No rationale for this decision appears to exist other than political payback against Texas by a supposedly non-political, independent agency.
One also must question if the decision of where to house the remaining Space Shuttles is NASA’s to make. In the past, once space hardware has no more use to NASA, legal responsibility for that hardware has been transferred to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. One can hope that reason will prevail. The legislation introduced to locate the remaining Space Shuttles in Texas, Florida, California, and at the Air and Space Museum in Virginia properly recognizes the national responsibilities for the Shuttle Program, as well as the Smithsonian’s role in archiving space artifacts.
An obvious political motivation lies behind this legally questionable complaint — as the Obama 2012 re-election campaign needs organized labor’s wholehearted support and money. An equally obvious unconstitutionality exists in the complaints violation of the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
That Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The regulation of employer-labor relations clearly is not an enumerated power of the Federal Government under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution [See essay No. 9 for discussion of limits in Section 8]. South Carolina’s right-to-work law exercises its delegated, 10th Amendment power to determine its own labor environment. Further, right-to-work laws by the States codify the 9th Amendment’s protection of the natural rights of individuals [See essay No. 36] to work and associate or not associate with unions as they may choose.
Also under the 9th Amendment, Boeing has the right to hold and manage private property anywhere within the United States without the consent of the Federal Government, and the 5th Amendment that property cannot be taken without due process of law.
Boeing not only should challenge this complaint directly with the NLRB, but it, South Carolina, and all right-to-work states should mount an immediate constitutional challenge against the NLRB in Federal Court. They and their potential workers face immediate harm from this putative action, given the investments and commitments already made in South Carolina. It is time to fight back on behalf of the Constitution and employers and employees, everywhere.
Attacks on Americans’ 1st Amendment right of political speech never appear to end, particularly when an incumbent president plans to win re-election whatever cost to constitutional government. One of the latest attacks lies in a plan by the White House to require those Americans bidding on government contracts to disclose political donations, including those not otherwise reported. Although the Supreme Court continues to allow limitations on political speech, it does not mean the Court is correct in so doing.
In spite of Court decisions in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976 and since, restrictions on Americans’ political speech, including monetary contributions, remain unconstitutional by any rational interpretation of the 1st Amendment and the Founders’ explanations that the right of free speech applies primarily to “political” speech.
This new White House plan not only lacks constitutional justification under the Article II powers granted to the President, it can have no other motive than to intimidate potential contractors who might otherwise oppose the President’s policies. The various federal agencies, particularly the Defense Department, should oppose the White House on this dangerous initiative. Potential contractors must adjust their business plans to include possible “no-bids” on federal Requests for Proposals.
Along with various professional associations, potential contractors also must prepare to enter Federal Court to fight any direct or indirect attempts by the White House to expand unconstitutionally Presidential power and to limit their political speech.
One definitive scientific fact continues to be ignored by both sides in the debate over the cause of the slow rise in global temperatures over the last 50 years — a continuation of a warming trend since 1660 of about 0.9 °F every 100 years. The largely ignored fact is that only 4% of the carbon in the atmosphere can be attributed to carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels [See essay No. 31] Professor Tom V. Segalstad of the University of Oslo, Norway, has done a very logical thing.
He has noted that the ratio of the light carbon isotope (12C) to the heavy carbon isotope (13C) in fossil fuel emissions is significantly higher than those produced by earth surface biological processes and ocean emissions. That is, geological processes have enriched buried fossil fuels in the light isotope, 12C. By analyzing the current isotopic ratio of 12C to 13C in the atmosphere, Professor Segalstad shows that no more than about 4% of the carbon in the atmosphere can be from burning fossil fuels.
The current slow rise in the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide, touted as evidence of human-caused global warming, most likely results from a long-term, gradual rise in temperature of the cold waters of the deep oceans where nature stores carbon dioxide during ice ages. Higher temperatures also increase the biologically driven production of 13C enriched carbon dioxide at the Earth’s surface.