By Dr. William Happer – Tribune News Service
The media and hostile congressional interrogators have routinely asked nominees for high positions in the new Trump administration some variant of the question, “Is climate change a hoax?”
Nominees should answer forthrightly, “No!”
Climate has been changing since the Earth was formed — some 4.5 billion years ago. Climate changes on every time scale — whether decades, centuries or millennia.
The climate of Greenland was warm enough for farming around the year 1100 A.D., but by 1500, the Little Ice Age drove Norse settlers out. There is no opportunity for a hoax, since climate change is so well documented by historical and geophysical records.
But none of the climate change of the past was due to humans. The very minor warming in the past few centuries is mostly from non-human causes as well.
What is really being asked is, “Do you agree with the party line of the previous administration, that continued emissions of carbon dioxide will destroy the planet unless the people of the world do exactly what they are told?”
The answer to this question should also be a resounding no; we should not bow to religious dogma disguised as science.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines the word “hoax” as “to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous.”
So hoax is a pretty good description of the article of faith that nominees are being asked to endorse: that carbon dioxide is supposedly dangerous “carbon pollution.”
All living creatures respire huge amounts of carbon dioxide every day. Carbon dioxide is essential to the growth of plants, which have been coping with a carbon dioxide famine for several tens of millions of years, an instant in geological time.
Satellites already show dramatic greening of the earth as carbon dioxide levels begin to recover toward their historical norms. Those levels had been measured in thousands of parts per million (ppm), not today’s puny 400 ppm.
Yes, carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, but much less important than the major greenhouse gas, water vapor, H2O, and clouds.
Observations, including the extended “hiatus” in warming since about the year 2000 — which is poised to continue now that the El Nino warming of 2015-2016 is behind us — show that more atmospheric carbon dioxide will cause only modest warming of the Earth’s surface.
This would benefit the world in many ways, extending growing seasons and lessening human mortality, which increases in cold weather. And modest warming means that there will also be no dangerous increase in sea levels. Climate alarmists are advancing a false narrative.
To limit increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide, smug elites demand that developing countries not burn fossil fuels as inexpensive, reliable sources of energy.
It is immoral to deny much of the world’s population this opportunity to escape centuries of poverty. Real pollutants from fossil fuel combustion, oxides of sulfur, nitrogen, fly ash, etc., do need rational control by cost-effective technology. But more carbon dioxide is a benefit to humanity and the “social cost of carbon,” aka carbon dioxide, is negative.
Many sincere people, without the time or training to dig into the facts, have been misled by the demonization of carbon dioxide.
This seems to be a recurrent feature of human history. In past centuries, some of the most educated members of society wrote learned books on how to ferret out witches and presided in trials where witches were condemned to death.
There never was a threat from witches, and there is no threat from increasing carbon dioxide.
The great Baltimore iconoclast, H.L. Mencken got it right when he observed: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Climate change is the latest hobgoblin.
William Happer is an emeritus Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University and a former Director of Energy Research of the U.S. Department of Energy. Readers may write him at 258 Jadwin Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, 08544.
Trump meets with Princeton scientist who called ‘global warming’ fears ‘pure belief disguised as science’ – Trump meets with Dr. Will Happer who, in 2015, declared UN climate “policies to slow CO2 emissions are really based on nonsense. We are being led down a false path. To call carbon dioxide a pollutant is really Orwellian. You are calling something a pollutant that we all produce. Where does that lead us eventually?”