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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Disinformer for Hire: Four Minute Dumb Denial by William Happer at WUWT

Sou | 1:08 PM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Note: I'm told by someone I regard as a reliable source that William Happer really and truly believes the dumb denierisms he comes up with. In which case, he's not so much a denier for hire as just another self-deluded climate science denier. Here's an old article about him and his skepticism from The Daily Princetonian. You'd think someone who's managed to attain a professorship at Princeton would have the ability to do some research on the subject before rejecting the entire field of climate science. But apparently not. Pity he didn't take up something like young earth creationism or flat earth-ism for his hobby, where he could do little harm to others and we could put his delusions down to eccentricity.

Sou 16 November 2014

William Happer is a climate science denier in his other job as Chairman of the George C Marshall Institute. He also "advises" the UK climate disinformation lobby group the Global Warming Policy Foundation. In his supposed full time job (has he retired already? The video says he's gone "Emeritus" - update - yes, he's Emeritus, though you can't tell from his website), it looks as if he works mainly in biophysics (medical). Nothing to do with climate science or atmospheric physics. He might even earn more money from the Marshall Institute than from his job at Princeton, but he doesn't have to do much to earn it. He certainly doesn't have to learn any climate science let alone do any climate research. All he has to do is mouth a few dumb denierisms to keep his Board and donors happy.  He doesn't have to believe the rubbish he talks. He just has to be willing to put aside his scruples (if he has any) and behave like a charlatan. He's a denier for hire [see updated note above - he apparently really believes his rubbish and is probably not in it for the money].

William Happer did a four minute video interview that was posted at WUWT (archived here - with the video itself on YouTube here). The video is ambitiously called "Will Happer, Princeton's Galileo", though AFAIK William Happer has never done any research in astronomy (or climate science) and he is no Galileo. His entire argument is pathetic, to say the least. It consisted mostly of denier memes chosen from SkepticalSciences' list of "Most used climate myths":
  • CO2 is plant food, ignoring the fact that droughts and heat waves and floods and changing climates will probably more than offset any benefits CO2 may bestow.
  • CO2 is invisible. William seems to think that a colourless gas cannot be a pollutant or do any harm and he's a physicist, would you believe. That's almost as good as the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "carbon dioxide is invisible, it's weightless and it's odourless" - still up on the Liberal Party website!
  • William wrongly claims it hasn't warmed since the super-El Nino of 1998 and ignores the record hot years of 2005 and 2010 and now this year, 2014, all of which were hotter than 1998. And ignoring the melting ice and the hotter oceans. He completely ignores all that's been happening in the last sixteen years.
  • William claims that a "little bit" of warming won't hurt, ignoring that we're on track for ten times faster warming than has occurred in 65 million years.
  • William claims that fossil fuels help the poor even while he acknowledges the immense harm the associated polluting smog is causing in Asia.

In other words William Happer could be mistaken for a lower order denier. A simple, dumb denier. A deluded dismissive. There is nothing sophisticated about his arguments. He's as bad as the FerdBerples and Smokeys and Janice Moores at WUWT. The lowest of the low on the scale of denialism. If you didn't know better, you'd never ever guess William Happer was a physics professor, let alone a physics professor at Princeton. You'd think he was one of the bottom rung members of the illiterati at WUWT, who had never opened a science textbook in his life.

But William Happer is not a deluded dismissive. He's Chair of the George C Marshall Institute and a professor of physics at Princeton. So he should know that he's talking crap and does it for money and/or ideological reasons. He's a professional disinformer posing as a deluded dumb denier. [See note above, I've been told he's not just posing, he really is a deluded denier. - Sou.]

The money and status he gets from his off-campus role makes up for the fact that his university colleagues look down on him with disgust. He's on the denier speaking circuit already. He's pretty well guaranteed the social status he seeks from the political cronies who matter to him, which has nothing to do with academia or intellectual pursuits.

(BTW the video starts with him talking about a hate email he received, probably to demonstrate that it's not only decent climate scientists who attract nutcases.)

Here's a chart of his "little bit" of warming:

Data source: NASA GISTemp

Here's a chart of where we're heading - maybe four degrees or more by the end of this century if the William Happers of the world have their way:

Adapted from SPM.10  IPCC AR5 WG1

From the WUWT comments

This is the calibre of person that William Happer and his political cronies target:

November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am
simple, elegant and above all it is the TRUTH, all CAGW is LIES.

Eliza casts aspersions on WUWT and says "it doesn't reach anybody"
November 15, 2014 at 8:34 am
Unfortunately this should be on the BBC, CNN, FOX, ect, not here. It doesn’t reach anybody. Sorry to be such a party pooper LOL BTW can it be sent to them??

James Strom
November 15, 2014 at 8:53 am
Despite everything Happer says about the benefits of CO2 he is looking forward to replacing fossil fuels. In fact, it is likely that at some point humanity will seek to add CO2 to the atmosphere.

November 15, 2014 at 9:37 am
It’s good to see that some universities actually still support real science and do not eject those who question everything. 

November 15, 2014 at 10:45 am
Will Happer is one of the bright lights still shining, illuminating science, which is what educators are supposed to do. Unfortunately, it is the dimmer bulbs that have dominated the media and are engaged in leading real science into something resembling the dark ages.

Jack Cowper even mistakes William Happer, denier for hire, for someone who is "decent" - WTF!
November 15, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Excellent. What a decent man Dr Happer is.
Thank you for posting.


  1. carbon monoxide is invisible, it's weightless and it's odourless

    1. Lol - yeah, CO is always my first thought, too. I know you don't mean it's "weightless", Nick :)

    2. Well, CO is more weightless than CO2 ;)

  2. Like GMI's Seitz, Jastrow and Nierenberg before him, Happer is a cold-war-era physicist whose ideological leanings trump science around climate, and he just repeats the memes provided by the usual suspects. I once wrote about the Signer, happer, et al 2009 Petition to the American Physical Society, to undo their statement on climate change. Of ~47,000 members, they got ~200 signers, with older men over-represented.

    Happer didn't like that much. Eli Kintisch wrote in Science:
    "Will Happer, a physicist at Princeton University who questions the consensus
    view on climate, thinks Mashey is a destructive force who uses “totalitarian tactics”—publishing damaging documents online, without peer review—to carry out personal vendettas. Whereas Mann lauds Mashey for “exploring the underbelly of climate denial,” Happer says Mashey’s tactics are “contrary to open inquiry.”"

    I love that quote :-)

    By the way, be on the lookout for the movie version of Merchants of Doubt, which will give some insight in GMI and its worldview.

    1. I wonder how many members of the George C Marshall Institute are also members of the The John Birch Society. Happer's need to compare Jews to a gas is both disturbing and Birchian....or possibly worse.

    2. Well, here are the Board Members and here is Staff and Fellows.

      Remember, GMI originated in an effort to help Reagan push Star Wars.
      Of course, CEO WIlliam O'Keefe was a 25-year veteran exec at the American Petroleum Institute, which may be relevant.

  3. According to GISSTemp:

    August, September, and now October 2014 are globally the warmest months ever recorded. Well, OK, October is tied with 2005. And we're not even in El Niño conditions.

    I'd say it's about time the deniers took their Big Book O' Denial out of their collective closets and burned it. But, experience tells us that they'll probably hold onto their denial until... well:

  4. The title of the video you referenced is "Will Happer, Princeton's Galileo". Anyone who compares themselves to Galileo has lost the debate by default :-)


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