Monday, January 19, 2009

Princeton Professor denies global warming theory

This is embarrassing. I'm an alumnus of Princeton (GS '74) and it pains me to read this in The Daily Princetonian: Professor denies global warming theory.
Physics professor William Happer GS ’64 has some tough words for scientists who believe that carbon dioxide is causing global warming.

“This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, said in an interview. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

Happer served as director of the Office of Energy Research in the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush and was subsequently fired by Vice President Al Gore, reportedly for his refusal to support Gore’s views on climate change.
More proof, if it's needed, that Al Gore is smarter than George Bush (either one).
He asked last month to be added to a list of global warming dissenters in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report. The list includes more than 650 experts who challenge the belief that human activity is contributing to global warming

Though Happer has promulgated his skepticism in the past, he requested to be named a skeptic in light of the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, whose administration has, as Happer notes, “stated that carbon dioxide is a pollutant” and that humans are “poisoning the atmosphere.”
I've been watching the excitement build in Washington as the inauguration approaches. Who knew that one of the unintended consequences would be to flush out the kooks?1

1. For the record, I don't think it's helpful to call CO2 a "pollutant." That doesn't mean there isn't an optimal concentration; after all, there's also an optimal concentration of N2 (100% is too much) and O2 (more than 50% and fires become a really serious problem. I'd also like to go on record as one of those who think that human activity is an important part of global warming but it's probably not the only cause of the current trend.


  1. Actually oxygen is the greatest toxic pollutant of all.

  2. It is not a proven fact that the world climate is warming. It is not clear that if it is warming that carbon dioxide is the primary cause.

    The validity of a scientific hypotheses is not determined by a popular vote.

    Of course, the climate MAY be warming, but the cause may not be caused by human activity.

    The best course of action is to continue rigorous scientific investigation while preparing for possible drastic climate warming or cooling.

    Putting all your eggs in one basket and severely curtailing human development through hysterical political action reeks of Lysenkoism.

  3. Going contrary to popular blief can draw attention-- just as starlets violate the common belief in modesty to generate attention in the form of scandal, similarly scientists craving attention find the dseired notoriety in denying "global warming." This last comment was made by Dr. Kunihiko, a Scientific luminary in Japan. Just because galciers melt more one year than the rest, or people exhale CO2, does nothing to decry the general trend of global warming. The economic implications of this trend work contrary to some interests-- like the Oil and Gas industry (in which I work), or the state of Russia. These interests-groups are casting doubts on this widely observed trend for self-sustanence. On the whole I think little evidence has been produced to counter the dogma of "Global Warming", and so I must continue to believe in the well supported claims of global warming.

  4. It's certainly nice to know that MIT and UVA are not alone in having global warming deniers on their faculties.

  5. There is only one complete and exact computer of global climate and that is the planet itself. The results from the ‘planet computer’ are archived in the Vostok and EPICA ice cores. Temperature and carbon dioxide level were extracted from these ice cores. The Vostok, Antarctica temperature data are available on line at and the carbon dioxide levels at . Google ‘dan Pangburn global warming’ and select the Middlebury site (usually the first or second hit) to see this data plotted (on the second graph). Notice that, repeatedly during the last and previous glacial periods, a temperature increasing trend changed to a decreasing trend with the atmospheric carbon dioxide level higher during the temperature down-trend than it had been when the temperature trend was increasing. This proves that there is no net positive feedback in climate and that, at least then, atmospheric carbon dioxide did not drive average global temperature (agt).

    Many in the climate science community appear to be unaware of that area of science that proves, using the ice core data, that added atmospheric carbon dioxide does not significantly increase average global temperature. They incorporate features in their atmosphere/ocean global climate models (AOGCMs) that result in significant net positive feedback. This causes the AOGCMs to erroneously predict substantial global warming. Without significant net positive feedback AOGCMs do not predict significant global warming. (Zero feedback results in 1.2°C from doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide per p631 of ch8 of IPCC AR4. This prediction is probably still high because of faulty parameterization etc.).

    One of the well known observations in science is that an added increment of carbon dioxide when atmospheric carbon dioxide level is high has less influence on anything than adding the same size increment did when atmospheric carbon dioxide level was lower. Knowing this, it is easy to deduce that added atmospheric carbon dioxide level now has even less influence on agt than it did during the last (and previous) glacial periods when atmospheric carbon dioxide level was lower and atmospheric carbon dioxide level did not drive agt. Thus added atmospheric carbon dioxide level does not now and never will cause a significant increase in agt. Any action that is taken to reduce human produced carbon dioxide to reduce global warming is a mistake and puts freedom and prosperity at risk.

  6. I was interested to find your sandwalk blog. 20 years ago I had a book published on different economic concepts to point the way to a sustainable world economy. Someone who liked the book contacted me this year to suggest that I update and re-publish it as a blog. She set up the blog, and the book is now complete on the blog in a series of postings. There are now also additional pieces on global warming and other subjects. Here is the link:

    With all good wishes,
    Charles Pierce

  7. Only took Happer two sentences to Godwin.

  8. Even without being an expert on climate, one thing is clear:
    "Global warming" or "Climate change" is not hard science.
    Even if it happens to eventually be true, it is still not an established theory.
    I have already seen elsewhere some global warming advocates linking global warmer deniers with creationism and anti-science.
    This is nonsense. Evolution is 150 years old well established theory.
    Climate science is still in diapers.
    Many people that don't agree with the mainstream concept of global warming are not anti-science.
    In my view, there is a not so healthy trend in popular science magazines such as NewScientist, which Larry likes so much to treat global warming as some well-established and rock-solid truth.

  9. Three cheers for Dan Pangburn!

    Who could have guessed that a mere masters level Mechanical Engineer could have done the kind of high quality ice core data analysis that completely eviscerates the scientific consensus of thousands of PhD's who actually do research in the proper fields.

    And to think the answer was just staring them in the face all these years. Well done, Dan!

  10. I'm ambivalent about using the term "pollution" to describe carbon dioxide. It depends rather on the application of the term "pollution", and I can see that you could get different answers in different contexts.

    This argument makes no sense to me, though:

    “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

    So sewage isn't a pollutant either? That's where this line of reasoning inevitably takes you.

  11. I am having this discussion on several fronts and have run into the same frustrating problem. CO2 may not be the sole pollutant but it's one where we can help curb our influence. Also "Global Warming" seems to get in the way as a term and allows people to say,"hey it's colder than normal, so global warming is a hoax" without understanding that the increase in overall temps are leading to a change in climate overall and that we humans did have an effect and will continue to have an effect on that Changing Climate. The debate needs to move away from details about our emission of Co2 and Methane etc. vs. the natural cycles, to a more centered idea of how do we slow the coming effects and what we can do to change the habits that Are polluting, whatever they are... The people who say Climate Change is not happening are just nuts or else they are working for some industry who wants to continue polluting. So there.

  12. CO2 by itself does nothing to global temperatures-there simply is no evidence.In fact there has been no Global warming last 10 years--and ice in the Antarctic is actually thickening.My Dad has a giant greenhouse where temperatures are constant.I have seen him pump CO2 to 1000ppm in there to make plants grow faster--and the Temp remains exactly the same.My Dad believes that there will be no Global warming-BUT burning of Fossil fuels DOES place more pollutants like Mercury in the air,cause acid rain,and so on--so we MUST reduce emissions.

  13. Even if Global Warming (or its CYA equivalent, Climate Change) is real and is man-made, there are two incontrovertible reasons why nothing the USA can do will change the global climate situation: (1) India and (2) China. We can tax ourselves back to the Stone Age and it will accomplish nothing without their cooperation (not gonna happen).

  14. I dont care.... I will be dead in 30 years