FILE - In this July 21, 2011, file photo, an iceberg floats in the sea near Qeqertarsuaq, Disko Island, Greenland. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File) (AP)

Trump scientist: "Carbon dioxide is good for you"

Princeton physics professor seeks to discredit climate science


Sarah Okeson
July 4, 2019 1:29PM (UTC)
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Our planet could reach levels of carbon dioxide high enough in the next decade to lock in dangerous planetary warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius, but a Trump physicist is trying to discredit the science behind climate disruption.

William Happer, the Trump administration’s champion for carbon dioxide, reached out for help to a prominent conservative think tank, the Heartland Institute. Happer claims carbon dioxide is good for humans.

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“At a time when we need to be reducing carbon emissions here in the U.S., the Trump administration is doing everything it can to block those efforts,” said climate scientist Michael Mann, a professor at Penn State. “Trump and the fossil fuel interests and plutocrats whose bidding he’s doing are the source of the problem.”

In May, sensors at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii recorded carbon dioxide concentrations of more than 415 parts per million. Scientists believe the last time our planet had so much carbon dioxide in the air, about 2.5 million to 5 million years ago during the Pliocene epoch, trees grew near the South Pole.

Exxon’s spot-on prediction

Exxon predicted almost 40 years ago, in 1982, that carbon dioxide levels would reach this level by 2020 because of burning fossil fuels but chose to invest heavily in disinformation campaigns to promote climate change denial. Inside Climate Newsobtained an internal company document about the predictions as part of its 2015 investigation.

The amount of carbon monoxide in the air is increasing by about 3 parts per million each year. At that rate, the carbon dioxide level will cross 450 parts per million in just over a decade which will probably lock in dangerous and irreversible planetary warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius. More than 90 people have died recently in the heat in the Indian state of Bihar.

Scientists said recently that emissions need to be halved by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Permafrost in the Canadian Arctic is thawing 70 years earlier than predicted which could mean the global climate crisis is accelerating.

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"Like Jews under Hitler"

Happer, who serves on the National Security Council, has said that carbon dioxide is being demonized “just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.” He has taught at Princeton University.

In November, Trump rejected the warnings of a national climate disruption assessment by 13 government agencies that said global warming is causing ongoing and lasting economic damage.

“Any real climate solutions must attack the problem at its source,” Mann said. “That means holding these bad actors accountable, through every means possible.”

Our country became the world’s largest producer of oil in 2018. The director of the U.S. Geological Survey, James Reilly, has ordered scientists not to predict long-term impacts of climate disruption. Reilly is a former petroleum geologist who doesn’t have a background in climate change science.

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ACTION BOX/What you can do about it

William Happer (Gage Skidmore)

Tell William Happer, a professor emeritus at Princeton, your thoughts on the danger the changing climate has on our planet by calling him at 609-258-4382 or emailing him at happer@Princeton.EDU. You can also mail him at Princeton University, Department of Physics, 258 Jadwin Hall, Washington Road, Princeton, N.J. 08544-0708.


Sarah Okeson

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