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Dr. Happer is the Right Person to Lead an Objective Federal Climate Commission

Dr. Happer is the Right Person to Lead an Objective Federal Climate Commission

By Sterling Burnett

The left-wing media’s rumor mill has been rumbling in recent weeks like an upset stomach in need of an antacid at the thought President Donald Trump will soon form a Presidential Commission on Climate Security (PCCS) to objectively examine the science behind the oft-repeated claim humans are causing dangerous climate change.

A PCCS is long overdue, and award winning physicist William Happer, Ph.D., the administration’s senior director of the National Security Council office for emerging technologies, is the perfect person to run it.

Such a committee should have been formed before 1992 when President George Herbert Walker Bush brought the United States into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Bush put the cart before the horse, agreeing to the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) despite the fact no comprehensive assessment of the state of climate science had been undertaken.

The IPCC was not charged with examining the causes and consequences of climate change, but rather it was directed from the start to limit its enquiries into the “human causes” of change.

One can’t understand a problem if one is directed to study only one aspect of it. It’s like the parable of the blind men and the elephant—if all the blind men had only been allowed to touch the trunk.

Since then many scientists advanced their careers and raked in big government research grants by towing the party line that humans were causing dangerous climate change and we needed a government takeover of the economy, something like the Green New Deal, to fix it. Time and again, data has been manipulated or altered, and research questioning whether humans are causing dangerous climate change has been suppressed or ignored, to make the facts conform to the theory.

Happer at the Helm

Before joining Trump’s National Security Council, Happer had a distinguished career in academia and in government service. He was the Cyrus Fogg Brackett professor of physics at Princeton University, served as the director of the Office of Energy Research at the U.S. Department of Energy, is a fellow the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

With Happer at the helm, the PCCS will assemble a group of qualified scientists to examine and debate the causes of current climate change, and its purported impacts on national security, agriculture, sea level, and extreme weather.

Happer has written previously on two critical aspects on climate change science: the need for quality data, and a fair examination of the potential benefits of increased carbon dioxide.

In 2015, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rushed into publication research announcing “the observational evidence related to a ‘hiatus’ in recent global surface warming” did not “support the notion of a ‘slowdown’ in the increase of global surface temperature.” This claim conflicted with every extant temperature data base, and the findings of many organizations worldwide, including the IPCC, that there had been a lengthy hiatus in global warming.

Along with more than 300 other scientists, Happer objected, noting in an article in Environment & Climate News that in the rush to get their findings published in time to influence the then forthcoming Paris Climate Agreement negotiations, NOAA’s researchers had violated the 2001 Data Quality Act (DQA).

In response, Happer and more than 300 experts signed a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology criticizing NOAA’s actions and stressing the need for climate research to comply with DQA requirements.

Beneficial Carbon Dioxide

Aside from his strong stand on behalf of scientific transparency, the liberal media has been hyperventilating over Happer’s previous statements on climate change, which he explored in an interview I conducted with him in 2015 for Environment & Climate News:

Doubling the carbon dioxide concentration will probably cause a warming of around 1 degree Celsius. … A warming of 1-2 degrees Celsius will be beneficial in itself by lengthening growing seasons and cutting winter heating bills. … The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “most likely” warming estimate if carbon dioxide is doubled [is] 3 degrees Celsius[, which] is almost certainly much too large.

In addition to the direct beneficial effects of modest warming, there will be a huge benefit to agriculture from more carbon dioxide. By the standards of geological history, … , we have been in a carbon dioxide famine over the past tens of millions of years, with low concentrations of several hundred ppm. More carbon dioxide will increase crop yields, make plants more tolerant to droughts, and will shrink deserts. Yet, we keep hearing about “carbon pollution.” Carbon dioxide is beneficial, not a pollutant.

Thousands of experiments, the actions of greenhouse operators worldwide, and the fact the earth has been greening and crop yields continue to set records year after year, all confirm Happer’s assertions on the agricultural benefits of higher carbon dioxide and a modest warming.

From the perspective of climate alarmists and the print and broadcast media that has adopted their cause, Trump’s big sin in forming the PCCS is to question the claim climate science is settled. And Happer’s big sin is to defend the need for high quality data and to point out a modestly warmer world and increased carbon dioxide will bring benefits as well as costs.

All the panic and hyperbolic gnashing of teeth concerning the PSSC in recent weeks comes down to this: Neither good science nor sound policy can be advanced without an unbiased examination and debate of the facts. This is the cornerstone of scientific discovery. So get to work Dr. Happer, and thank you for your service.

Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow on energy and the environment at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research center headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois.