William Happer is a 77-year-old physicist at Princeton. He is widely regarded as president Trump’s top pick to be his science adviser. Happer has strong opinions on climate science and climate scientists. Is he a raving lunatic? Listen to what he has to say and judge for yourself.
“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer tells the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.” Happer also supports limiting the freedom of scientists working for the federal government to speak out about their findings. He thinks people get mixed messages from various agencies, which encourages them to disregarding all public health information.
“So many people are fed up of listening to the government lie to them about margarine and climate change that when something is actually true and beneficial they don’t listen,” he says. “The government should have a reputation of being completely reliable about facts — real facts.” (Editor’s Note: It’s unclear precisely, but it seems like Happer has somehow picked up some misinformation about the facts of climate change from somewhere.)
Happer dismisses reports that Trump is “anti-science.” He says he came away from a meeting with Trump in January with a positive impression. “He asked good questions — he was very attentive, actually,” he says. The subject of climate change was brought up, but was not the main topic of the meeting. “His comments were that of a technically literate person,” he said. “He wasn’t ideologically opposed to renewables; he wasn’t ideologically in favor of them either.” Trump has expressed support for solar energy in areas like Arizona “where it makes sense.” (Editor’s Note: There isn’t really a region where solar doesn’t make sense, and it is now largely cheaper than fossil fuels, so it should be pursued no matter what. Plus, there are the public health benefits! As far as “ideologically opposed” or in favor, Trump can surely play his comments to whoever he is talking to without much concern for his actually relevant opinion, but it has been clear for years that Trump hates wind power — maybe not for ideological reasons as much as pure aesthetic preferences. To suggest that he is neutral and objective on renewables is an obvious misreading or misleading from Happer.)
Happer argues that climate monitoring, such as the collection of CO2 and atmospheric temperature data, is valuable and should be continued. However, he claims that the overall threat posed by global warming has been overplayed by scientists swayed by a political agenda and power-hungry civil servants. (Editor’s Note: Overplayed? Seriously? The guy clearly has an anti-climate science bias. There’s a reason the US military and defense experts are massively concerned about global warming and climate change, and you’d think someone like Happer would be able to connect the dots well enough, but as noted above, it seems he has a bias against this field of science for some reason.)
“There’s a huge amount of money that we spend on saving the planet,” he says. “If it turns out that the planet doesn’t need saving as much as we thought, well, there are other ways you could spend the money. When you talk about fossil fuel companies being motivated, well, there’s nobody more motivated than the people working for the federal government,” he adds. “You can’t rise in the American bureaucracy without some threat to address.” (Editor’s Note: Again, solar and wind power are now largely cheaper than fossil fuels — so the money comment is a rather misleading one at this point.)
Happer’s skepticism about climate change began while he was director of research at the Department of Energy during the George W. Bush administration. He says the climate scientists would “grudgingly” present their work to administrators while scientists in other fields would share their results willingly.
“I would ask questions but they were evasive and wouldn’t answer,” he says. “This experience really soured me on the community. I started reading up and I realized why they weren’t answering the questions — because they didn’t have good answers. It was really at that point that I began to get seriously worried about climate as a science.” (Editor’s Note: Ahhhhhh, career climate scientists didn’t want to work cheerfully with the George W. Bush administration … that is where this guy got his bias? How strange that they would be like that in an oil-soaked administration. Unfortunately, it seems to me that Happer would not be a brilliant choice for science adviser — but, hey, at least he’s a scientist! That is a step up for Trump, who for some reason keeps choosing people to lead departments of things they either have no experience working with or explicitly wanted to destroy.)
Happer is not the only candidate for science adviser. David Gerlenter, a Yale computer scientist who has also questioned the reality of man made climate change, is also reported to in the running. Either way, climate science can expect a chilly reception from the Trump administration. (Editor’s Note: What a surprise — “Trump’s” other top pick for science advisor is another rare climate skeptic, something very hard to find at an Ivy League school. I wonder how such a coincidence could have occurred. Or, wait, maybe there’s an “ideological” and corporate bias, and perhaps even a thoroughly nefarious motive. …)
Could The US Really Elect A Conspiracy Theorist?
It’s unclear whether Donald Trump really believes any of the conspiracy theories he pushes, or if he just uses them to attack things he doesn’t like, but he pushes so many that it’s clear he 1) really is so gullible and conspiratorial or 2) is just that keen to play on conspiratorial thoughts in others. Either explanation should raise a big red flag for a presidential candidate in Yosemite Sam’s house, let alone across the United States.
William Happer is a distinguished emeritus professor of physics. His specialty is optics and spectroscopy, but he’s got Physicist Syndrome bad — he thinks he’s an expert in everything to the point that he can disagree with distinguished professors in other fields, on their specialty. Yes, he’s that kind of idiot.
And he’s being considered for the position of Science Advisor to Donald Trump. Are you surprised? Trump’s chief skill seems to be in ferreting out the worst people and elevating them to positions where they can do the most damage. If you’re wondering why Trump is at all interested in this crank professor, it’s because he’s already been bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry.
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