Special to Climate Depot
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 CO2 is 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 CO2 and 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 CO2 has 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 CO2 benefits 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 CO2 generators are sold for greenhouse use.
- Happer pointed out how stomata in plant leaves gets CO2 from the atmosphere, and how plants are water hogs. With increased CO2 plants’ 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 http://marshall.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/HapperMarshall-10-15-2014.pdf