Watch: Princeton Physicist Dr. Will Happer: ‘The Myth of Carbon Pollution’ – ‘Carbon pollution’ is a propaganda slogan…It is not science’

By: - Climate DepotOctober 20, 2014 2:47 PM with 9 comments

Special to Climate Depot

Video: Dr. Will Happer

By Aaron Stover  – Recap of Princeton Physicist Dr. Will Happer – ‘The Myth of Carbon Pollution’

  • Although he’s a trained physicist he’s been working on climate science since he co-authored the book “Long Term Impacts of Increasing Atmospheric CO2.” Their estimate of climate sensitivity to CO2 was about in the middle of most estimates, but grossly overestimated the actual effects now that we’ve had time to observe.
  • There will be a small amount of warming and it will be beneficial, e.g. greater crop yields. The impact of clouds has been underestimated by a large factor.
  • He shared illustrations from Al Gore’s book, which mistakenly show hurricanes on the equator (there have been no recorded equatorial hurricanes), and hurricanes shown to be rotating the wrong way.
  • Made an analogy to Chicken Little, “If the sky is falling, look for the fox.” Hank Paulson stands to make billions from carbon exchanges he’s invested in.
  • Two “Gretchenfrage” (from Goethe’s Faust): If COis kept constant will climate stop changing? (No) What is the optimum CO2 level? At 150 ppm plants stop growing. Looking at geologic time, levels ranged from 1,000-2,000 ppm and life flourished.
  • We are coming out of an Ice Age, and he shared an anecdote from John Muir (first Sierra Club president) who noted glacial melting in Alaska’s Glacier Bay in 1879, long before there were any large scale fossil fuel emissions.
  • The correlation between COand temperature is poor by general scientific standards. When looking at global distribution of CO2 you have to consider land mass, which is much larger in the Northern Hemisphere compared to the Southern.
  • We are currently in a relative CO2 famine by geologic standards. It’s far more common to measure it in thousands ppm, not hundreds. Most life would prefer more CO2, not less.
  • He discussed the Earth’s “Energy Budget,” how the earth could not support life without an atmosphere and it would be much too cold. Temperature radically changes throughout the atmospheric levels; for the first 10 km warming is attributed to air movement. At 30km and above it’s mainly due to radiation. Happer discussed CO2 molecular wavelength at different temperatures, how radiation is transmitted by the atmosphere.
  • GHG warming exists of course and is responsible for life. CO2 is a GHG but a not particularly efficient one. There’s a lot of evidence showing that CO2 cannot possibly warm the atmosphere at the rate alarmists are suggesting. What they’re doing is curve-fitting, it’s not science and not reliably predictive.
  • Their models predicted Δ +.3°C for the past 15 years. While COhas risen from 370-400 ppm, we have observed Δ0°C or less. He cited coverage of this in a January 2013 article from the left-leaning German magazine Der Spiegel.
  • Roy Spencer and John Christie have improved global measurement readings with their satellite data observation. The Mount Pinatubo eruption resulted in a brief cooling during the early 90s, followed by a brief El Nino warming in the late 90s.
  • Happer went into a detailed explanation of the CObenefits to agriculture, showing slides of soybean growth (he also pointed out that GMOs have allowed for weed-free soybean fields since they’re pesticide resistant). Soybeans are greedy for CO2 .
  • He showed slides of Sherwood Idso’s pine tree experiments, and pointed out how 15% of crop yield improvements are due to increased CO2. Mentioned how COgenerators are sold for greenhouse use.
  • Happer pointed out how stomata in plant leaves gets COfrom the atmosphere, and how plants are water hogs. With increased COplants’ water economy improves as their stomata numbers decrease. Stomata counting can determine CO2 levels. He showed a slide illustrating global greening from CO2 fertilization between 1982-2010.
  • He mentioned the massive growth in India’s wheat production, compared the contributions of Borlaug and Ehrlich.
  • We’ve also experienced no increase in extreme weather, such as changes in tornadoes, snow cover, and hurricanes. The only significant sea level in recent history was due to glacial melting thousands of years ago.
  • CO2 levels are spiking in China and India, but have decreased in Canada and the U.S.
  • In summary, our CO2 mitigation policies are based on flawed models of exaggerated warming.
  • He finished with the Schopenhauer quote “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
  • During Q&A he spoke of:

o   The corruption of science, and the main conflicts of interest being with grant-driven scientists who for example drop in meaningless comments on climate change into their studies simply to gain grant money. He discussed the story of Lysenko in the Soviet Union.

o   When asked how the models are so wrong, he explained how CO2 is very difficult to get warm as it’s super absorbed. They screwed up the feedbacks.

o   Regarding ocean absorption of heat, it’s difficult to build a model where only the ocean warms without the atmosphere warming. On ocean acidification, we had much higher CO2 levels millions of years ago and oceans were teeming with life.

o   When asked about the breakdown of scientists who are skeptics, he said he’s still in the minority but it’s a larger number than 5 years ago. He estimated it may have been 20% then, now at least 30%.

o   Main policy takeaways are that CO2 is clearly positive for humanity. Regarding environmental policy, we should focus on the things that matter, such as completely unfiltered coal plants in China and damaging strip mining.



Date(s) – 10/15/20141:00 pm – 2:30 pm

On October 15, 2014 Dr. William Happer, Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, discussed “The Myth of Carbon Pollution.”

“Carbon pollution” is a propaganda slogan for the campaign against carbon dioxide (CO2). It is not science. Atmospheric CO2 is not a pollutant but is essential for plant growth. Current CO2 levels are far below optimum for most plants, and far below norms of geological history, when CO2 concentrations averaged several times higher than present values.   A substantial fraction, about 15%, of current world food production is due to the higher levels of CO2compared to preindustrial values.   Contrary to unambiguous computer predictions, there has been no statistically significant surface warming in at least 15 years. It is now clear that the warming potential of CO2 has been exaggerated by a large amount, and it is unlikely to be much more than 1oC for doubling of CO2. There is not the slightest evidence that more CO2has caused more extreme weather or accelerated sea level rise. Nor is there the slightest support for the notion that government control of CO2 will “stop climate change.”   Many real environmental issues need attention, smog, waste disposal, short-sighted suburban development, adequate clean water, public health, etc. These are being overshadowed by the phony issue of “carbon pollution.”

Dr. William Happer is Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics (emeritus) at Princeton University, a long-term member of the JASON advisory group, and former director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. In addition to being a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of numerous awards, including the Alfred P. Sloan fellowship, the Alexander von Humboldt award, the Herbert P. Broida Prize and the Thomas Alva Edison patent award.

Dr. Happer’s Powerpoint presentation is available at

  • grrretchen

    “When asked about the breakdown of scientists who are skeptics, he said he’s still in the minority but it’s a larger number than 5 years ago. He estimated it may have been 20% then, now at least 30%.”
    Oh I’ll bet it’s a lot more than that, at least here in the US. There are far too many young brilliant scientists out there who simply have not made a name for themselves yet and being wise as well as brilliant they really do have to keep a low profile. It may be safer being an AGW apostate here than a religious apostate in the middle east, but only from a physical standpoint. Career-wise the intensity of the attacks is the same.

    • Sh_ush

      Two of the difficulties in determining the number of skeptics is trying define: (1) who are the experts and (2) what they are skeptical of. None of the surveys or studies that supposedly confirm the “consensus” did a very good job in either of these areas.

      i would contend that the only experts who matter are those with sufficient rigor in their background to understand the strengths and weakness of the numerical models–after all, the models are at the core of the uncertainty of all this.

      As far as the key question for these experts–I think the question is this: when will the CO2 increase become important to human civilization? Is it this century? Is it farther in the future? What is a reasonable worst case scenario?

      The best breakdown like this was done by the AMS not so long ago and it showed anything but a consensus in the field.

    • Climate alchemy was created with congenital defects, required to frame and convict harmless CO2, and the rigged three sided debate is between the Darth BIG Warmists, the Luke LITTLE Warmists [who were called deniers and claim to be skeptics], and the Obie NO Warmists. Gas molecules do not store, amplify or redirect radiant energy, they merely filter some energy in narrow spectrum bands, excluding non absorbing Nitrogen. The absorbed energy is immediately transferred to the adjoining molecules and dissipated by altitude attenuation. See “Greenhouse Gas Ptolemaic Model” at the Faux Science Slayer site for complete analysis of the defective Darth and Luke hypothesis.

  • spepper

    My hope is restored, that there is some part of academia that remains, which looks at data objectively, and comes to an honest conclusion, instead of manipulating it to serve some personal or political agenda. Congrats to Dr. Will Happer for accomplishing that very thing.

  • MacDaddyWatch

    …and on the other hand, we have Chief Justice John Edwards who backs the EPA’s war against CO2.

    • planet8788

      John Roberts….

      John Edwards would even be scarier.

  • Bash Brannigan

    The hurdle is overcoming the politicizing of (bad) science. Can it be done in time before our policymakers destroy our economy??

  • Will Haas

    To me the most important point regarding the effect of CO2 on climate is that to make the the effect of CO2 seem significant the modelers had to factor in positive feedbacks. The models they came up with so far have come up with wrong predictions. Positive feedback systems are inherently unstable while negative feedback systems are inherently stable. In response to changes in greenhouse gases, the earth’s climate has been stable enough for more than 500 million years for life to evolve. We are here. With past levels of CO2 at times more than 10 times what they are today there has been no out of control global warming. The oceans have not boiled away. No tipping point has ever been reached.
    The positive feedback idea is that an increase in CO2 increases the rradiantthermal insulation properties of the atmosphere causing warming at the surface and the lower atmosphere but cooling in the upper atmosphere where earth radiates to space in LWIR absorption bands. The additional warming allows more H2O to enter the atmosphere which causes a further increase in insulation which causes even more warming and even more H2O to enter the atmosphere. If this were all that happened then the oceans would have long boiled away without any help from CO2. But that is not all what happens.
    H2O is also a major coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere, moving heat energy from the Earth’s surface, most of which is water, via the heat of vaporization, to where clouds form which happens to be where Earth radiates to space in LWIR absorption bands. More heat energy is moved by this mechanism then by both convection and LWIR absorption band radiation combined. This mechanism provides a negative feedback.
    Clouds provide another negative feedback. Not only do they increase the Earth’s albedo but they radiate to space more efficiently then the clear atmosphere they replace.
    The cooling in the upper atmosphere reduces H2O which counteracts the action of adding CO2 thus providing still another negative feedback.
    Then there is another very basic issue. If a gas is a good absorber at a given frequency then it is also a good radiator at that same frequency. More greenhouse gasses actually inproin provesefficiency that Earth radiates to space in LWIR absorption bands. For this reason it is questionable whether changes in CO2, except for how it might effect the heat capacity of the atmosphere, has any significant effect on the heat transfer properties of the atmosphere. The calculation of the lapse rate has nothing to do with CO2’s LWIR absorption properties. I keep reading explanations of the so called greehgreenhousect that are just wrong. The heat trapping gases are really the non-greehgreenhouses bacaubecause are such inefficient LWIR radiators to space.

  • emmet

    “He estimated it may have been 20% then, now at least 30%.”
    Responses and comments of any blog on Climate change by any name, are running in more favorable ratio, about 5 to 1 responders are not buying the official propaganda and what ICCP is trying to pass as science. The ones approving of it , are members of notorious green establishments like Sierra Club to name one. CO2 is literarily the stuff life is made of and whatever can be produced by any means, is devoured in photosynthesis that provides the necessary negative feedback loop that makes life on this planet possible.