Trump Advisor Will Happer is Not a Climate Scientist

Trump Advisor Will Happer is Not a Climate Scientist

Distinguished Princeton physicist Will Happer was given the honor of visiting our would-be-President Donald Trump at his golden 5th Avenue tower, or White House North.  This is because Prof. Happer is one of the leading scientists pushing the climate denier agenda.  He also publishes in the Wall Street Journal, that great climate denier journal run by Rupert Murdoch.  Looking at Prof. Happer’s publication list since 1994, there are important optics articles, but no climate science articles.  That covers the last 22 years, during which most of climate science has been developed.  Among his honors, he served as director of the Office of Science in the Department of energy from 1991-93 under President George W. Bush.

Looking at his articles and public testimony, he only parrots the standard climate change or science deniers one liners, which are standardly shown to be false.  He adds nothing new or scientific, except a lot of vitriol accusing thousands of climate scientists as frauds, comparable to Lysenko’s false domination of Soviet biology, or even (gasp) to Hitler.  Links to these are given in Happer’s Wikipedia article.  Trump and his advisors cite several of the fallacious statements in his interviews, as do almost all Republicans in Congress, adding their own vitriol.

(As an aside, I do believe in the statement “As ye sow, so shall you reap” applies to Donald Trump.  I also somewhat believe in “As they go low, we go high”.  I have to be academic in an academic blog, but I am nerd enough to include sophomoric punning.)

The American Physical Society of 47,000 physicists, after much argument, endorsed a mild statement backing climate science.  Happer circulated a counter petition, which was signed by only a few hundred, and was dropped.

Dr. Happer wrote an article in First Things, titled, “The Truth About Greenhouse Gasses:  The Dubious Science of Climate Crusaders”.  Fortunately, climate scientist Michael MacCracken, published a 42-page scientific rebuttal of Happer’s 43 assertions, titled: “The Real Truth about Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change:  Paragraph-by-Paragraph Comments on an Article by Dr. William Happer”, at Climate Science Watch, September 2011.  This article quotes each of Happer’s statements, so you only have to read MacCracken’s article.  Dr. MacCracken is a very distinguished climate scientist and a leader of governmental and international climate science committees, as is well documented by Wikipedia.  To my knowledge, Dr. MacCracken has not been invited to the Golden Trump Tower to tell President-in-four-days Trump the truth about our warming climate.

The main retort that I want to report on in this article is Dr. Happer’s assertion in 2011 that climate science is the second highest funded research subject in the government appropriations.  Dr. MacCracken replied that in the 2010 budget, “of the $147.6 billion the government spends on research and development, the Department of Defense gets about $80 billion and then the Department of Health and Human Services gets $31 billion.  Then come DOE and NASA (mostly for energy and space research, respectively) at about $11 billion each.  … the total enacted global change research budget for all agencies combined in FY-10 was $2.178B, so about 1.5% of the Federal Government’s total research budget …”.

The above just shows that Trump’s publicly announced meeting with Dr. Happer, presumably about climate science, was just to reinforce Trump’s own beliefs on the subject, not to give the subject further consideration, as he has promised.

Dr. Happer as potential White House Science Advisor?

The press has speculated that maybe Trump was interviewing Dr. Happer to be the White House science advisor.  There have been questions in the science journals Nature and Science as to whether President Trump would even have a science advisor.  At the same time, President Obama has just published a long paper in the journal Science, arguing the importance of a continued attack on climate change.  The Science Advisor is not a cabinet position, and does not have to be appointed, nor approved by the Senate.

We might have to assume that for any scientist to be a Science Advisor for a Republican administration, with a climate denying Congress funded by fossil fuel magnates, and with the biggest such magnate Rex Tillerson being Secretary of State, and their lackeys being head of the Department of Energy and Administrator of the EPA, that the advisor has to be a climate science sceptic.  However, they do not have to be one of the most public deniers of climate science, appearing in such prestigious business journals as the Wall Street Fake-Climate-Science-News Journal.  Dr. Happer is undoubtedly an excellent physicist, but something is wrong if he has not studied climate science yet expounds on it, and claims that all climate scientists are frauds, or worse.  I don’t think many scientists would trust him as a science advisor, since there are many other important areas of science which are political footballs right now, and accurate science advice is needed.  These would include the reliability of our nuclear weapons, childhood vaccines, the continued path to clean air and clean water, the health costs of coal power, which abortion pills do not actually cause abortions, the necessity of universal health care to lessen overall medical costs, the effects of global warming on fisheries, drought, forest fires, mass migrations, etc.

Dr. Happer’s incredible exaggeration of how much the Federal Government spends on climate research is a prime example of why he should not be in any Government position.

It would be amazing to run a science based economy and country with only the advice of his cabinet, which is hand-picked to deny science, as well as Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence.


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
This entry was posted in 2016 Election, Affairs of State, Climate Change, Coal, Communications, Donald Trump, Fossil Fuel Energy, Politics, Trump Administration, Trump on Climate Change, Wall Street Journal. Bookmark the permalink.

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