Paths To Knowledge (dot Science)

What is actually real in Objective Reality? How do you know? Now, prove it's real!

Archive for February 25th, 2009

Climate Change: Statement of Dr. William Happer before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009


Statement of William Happer Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics Princeton University

Before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair

February 25, 2009

Madam Chairman and members, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on Environment and Public Works to testify on Climate Change. My name is William Happer, and I am the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. I am not a climatologist, but I don’t think any of the other witnesses are either. I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases – one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. I am a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. I have done extensive consulting work for the US Government and Industry. I also served as the Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (DOE) from 1990 to 1993, where I supervised all of DOE’s work on climate change. I have come here today as a concerned citizen to express my personal views, and those of many like me, about US climate-change policy. These are not official views of my main employer, Princeton University, nor of any other organization with which I am associated.

Let me state clearly where I probably agree with the other witnesses. We have been in a period of global warming over the past 200 years, but there have been several periods, like the last ten years, when the warming has ceased, and there have even been periods of substantial cooling, as from 1940 to 1970. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) have increased from about 280 to 380 parts per million over past 100 years. The combustion of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, has contributed to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. And finally, increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the earth’s surface to warm. The key question is: will the net effect of the warming, and any other effects of the CO2, be good or bad for humanity?

I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind. I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view the period just before the passage of the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution to prohibit “the manufacturing, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” At the time, the 18th amendment seemed to be exactly the right thing to do – who wanted to be in league with demon rum? It was the 1917 version of saving the planet. More than half the states enacted prohibition laws before the 18th amendment was ratified. Only one state, Rhode Island, voted against the 18th amendment. Two states, Illinois and Indiana, never got around to voting and all the rest voted for it. There were many thoughtful people, including a majority of Rhode Islanders, who thought that prohibition might do more harm than good. But they were completely outmatched by the temperance movement, whose motives and methods had much in common with the movement to stop climate change. Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. Prohibition was a mistake, and our country has probably still not fully recovered from the damage it did. Institutions like organized crime got their start in that era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways.

But what about the frightening consequences of increasing levels of CO2 that we keep hearing about? In a word, they are wildly exaggerated, just as the purported benefits of prohibition were wildly exaggerated. Let me turn now to the science and try to explain why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.

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Posted in Climate Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Politics, Proofs Needed | 47 Comments »

Physics Professor William Happer Has Some Tough Words For Scientists Who Believe That Carbon Dioxide Is Causing Global Warming

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009

All the evidence I see is that the current warming of the climate is just like past warmings. In fact, it’s not as much as past warmings yet, and it probably has little to do with carbon dioxide, just like past warmings had little to do with carbon dioxide,” [Physics professor William] Happer explained.

Happer explained that his beliefs about climate change come from his experience at the Department of Energy, at which Happer said he supervised all non-weapons energy research, including climate change research. Managing a budget of more than $3 billion, Happer said he felt compelled to make sure it was being spent properly. “I would have [researchers] come in, and they would brief me on their topics,” Happer explained. “They would show up. Shiny faces, presentation ready to go. I would ask them questions, and they would be just delighted when you asked. That was true of almost every group that came in.

The exceptions were climate change scientists, he said.

They would give me a briefing. It was a completely different experience. I remember one speaker who asked why I wanted to know, why I asked that question. So I said, you know I always ask questions at these briefings … I often get a much better view of [things] in the interchange with the speaker,” Happer said. “This guy looked at me and said, ‘What answer would you like?’ I knew I was in trouble then. This was a community even in the early 1990s that was being turned political. [The attitude was] ‘Give me all this money, and I’ll get the answer you like.’

[Physics professor William] Happer said he is dismayed by the politicization of the issue and believes the community of climate change scientists has become a veritable “religious cult,” noting that nobody understands or questions any of the science.

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Posted in Climate Science, Ethics in Science, Humbled by Nature, Ignorance to Knowledge, Proofs Needed | 1 Comment »

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists …

Posted by pwl on February 25, 2009

Those who resist, fear, avoid or ignore questions of their science are no longer scientists, they are activists, politicians or religious demagogues who want their science to be accepted on belief and faith just because they say it’s so – they are the worst kind of high tech priest especially if their science turns out to be correct or partially correct. This is a sign to question their science even more intensely! People committed to science and science education embrace questions as questions from others are a tool and opportunity for sharpening and improving their science and a way of teaching it to the ignorant masses which at first even includes other experts in their field! Question Authority! The worst that can happen is that some or all of their science is falsified which simply makes them better scientists. Either way the scientists learn something or the ignorant have an opportunity to move from ignorance to knowledge and eliminate the enemy of knowledge and us all, belief and faith. Question Authority! Question Science, Scientists and Science Educators!” – pwl

Many thanks to the endearing Associate Professor PZ Myers and his wonderful group of true believers at pharyngula for inspiring this quote with their endarkened policy towards the ignorant masses known as “Open Season on Fresh Meat”.

Posted in Bad Science Attitude, Caustic Scientists, Climate Science, Definition of Terms, Ethics in Science, Ignorance to Knowledge, Quotations, Science Missions | Leave a Comment »

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