See Jane’s Big Carbon Footprint
Before they boss us around, shouldn't Obama's science team act like they believe in global warming?


What’s your carbon footprint? Next year, it will probably be much smaller than that of Jane Lubchenco. The renowned climate-change crusader and professor of marine biology is Obama’s choice for administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

National Review Online has obtained an e-mail from Lubchenco’s husband, Oregon State University professor Bruce Menge, suggesting that the couple will contribute mightily to global warming next year after she takes the job by making frequent cross-country plane trips.

In the e-mail, Menge is enthusiastic about the appointment, but he also mentions the “the hardships it will impose on us and our academic family.” Their solution? “The plan is for her to be in WDC and me to remain in Oregon at OSU, with frequent weekend trips back and forth,” Menge writes. For the record: A single roundtrip between Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C., emits just under a ton of carbon, and a bit more than a ton if there is a layover in between. The roundtrip from the university to the airport is another 185 miles by car.

One could end there by acknowledging how understandable this is — after all, conservatives are not the only ones who place greater stock in familial bliss and human comfort than in fears of climate change and the alleged havoc it will wreak. Even a liberal marine biologist who has written extensively on the effect of global warming on marine life is not willing to let such truths inconvenience or harm her family.

But Menge also writes of the appointment that “this opportunity could have major positive impacts on fisheries management, marine reserves, and PISCO’s future among many other things.” PISCO is the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans, the very research program under which Menge and Lubchenco currently work as principal investigators at Oregon State University.

Most of PISCO’s funding is private, but some of it comes from NOAA, according to the project’s website, suggesting that Menge is correct. Even if it is all in the interest of science, it is a valid question whether it would be right for a NOAA administrator to use her government position to advance her husband’s academic research. It is a question Lubchenco may face before she takes that carbon-heavy flight to Washington for her confirmation hearing.

– David Freddoso is an NRO staff reporter.