By Kennedy Maize
Princeton physicist Will Happer, a prominent skeptic about man-made global warming, told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Feb. 25 that the earth is in a “CO2 famine,” and more atmospheric carbon dioxide would be a very good thing indeed.
“Almost never have CO2 levels been as low” as in the current Holocene epoch – around 280 parts per million, he said. “Most of the time,” Happer told the committee, CO2 levels “have been at least 1,000 ppm and it’s been quite higher than that.”
Those past higher carbon dioxide concentrations, Happer noted, were hardly catastrophic. “Earth was just fine in those times,” he said. “The oceans were fine, plants grew, animals grew fine. So it’s baffling to me that we’re so frightened of getting nowhere close to where we started.”
Happer argued, “I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind.” Former vice president Al Gore has been crusading on global warming since he was a Democratic member of the House of Representatives and a member of the House Science and Technology Committee in the early 1980. Gore’s widely publicized fears, says Happer, are misplaced. “At least 90% of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds,” Happer told the Senate committee. “Carbon dioxide is a bit player.”
The climate is warming, Happer said, but it’s part of a long-term warming trend that began about 1800 at the end of the “little ice age,” and has nothing to do with man-made CO2 emissions. Happer said the ranks of climate warming skeptics are growing as the doubters force advocates to test and prove their claims, tests they largely fail.
Happer was scornful of the global circulation models that have driven the fears of man-made global warming. The models do not reflect empirical reality. “Over the past 10 years,” he said, “there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. This is not at all what was predicted by the … models.”
Happer was director of research at the U.S. Department of Energy from 1990 to 1993, a political job. In 1993, Gore fired Happer, because the scientist would not bend to the political views of the Tennessee politician and vice president, who drove Clinton administration environmental policy.
Happer, citing George Orwell’s seminal essay “Politics and the English Language,” told the Senate committee, “CO2 is not a pollutant and is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving ‘pollutant’ and ‘poison’ of their original meaning. Our exhaled breath contains about 4% CO2. That is 40,000 parts per million, or about 100 times the current atmospheric concentration.” Orwell wrote in 1946, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
Happer railed against those who argue that there is a scientific consensus on man-made climate change. “The number of those with the courage to speak out is growing,” he said, adding that the warming advocates are attempting to restrict legitimate science and scientific contention. “If you have the power to stifle dissent,” he said, “you can indeed create the illusion of peace or consensus.” He added that he finds it “unnerving to read statements of (NASA scientist) Dr. James Hansen in the Congressional Record that climate skeptics are guilty of ‘high crimes against humanity and nature.’”