We have a story that William Happer, a physicist appointed by the Trump Administration to the National Security Council, consulted with climate deniers in order to frustrate the righteous and just reaction to the climate emergency. We should all be suspicious of this story – very suspicious indeed. For at least as far as I can see we’re being fed the occasional quote from the emails about that consultation. Not the emails themselves in which it would be possible to gain some context to the quotes.
This makes me very suspicious and it should you too.
A Trump administration national security official has sought help from advisers to a think tank that disavows climate change to challenge widely accepted scientific findings on global warming, according to his emails. The request from William Happer, a member of the National Security Council, is included in emails from 2018 and 2019 that were obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund under the federal Freedom of Information Act and provided to The Associated Press.
Well, OK. If the emails start “How do we get rid of the bunny huggers” then there’s at least some validity to a complaint. If they’re shouting that we mustn’t do anything as profit comes first then definitely. If they’re more an exploration of what it is that the “climate deniers” are saying then it’s not a scandal at all, it’s good science.
A member of the Trump administration’s National Security Council has sought help from advisers of a conservative thinktank to challenge the reality of a human-induced climate crisis, a trove of his emails show. William Happer, a physicist appointed by the White House to counter the federal government’s own climate science, reached out to the Heartland Institute, one of the most prominent groups to dispute that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous global heating, in March. In the messages, part of a group of emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Happer and the Heartland adviser Hal Doiron discuss Happer’s scientific arguments in a paper attempting to knock down the concept of climate emergency, as well as ideas to make the work “more useful to a wider readership”.
Ah, now, wait a minute. Climate change and climate emergency are not the same thing. Not at all. The IPCC itself agrees with climate change and doesn’t with climate emergency. The political outcome from the IPCC’s reports is a lot of chatter about climate emergency. But that’s political insistence, not actual science.
Happer has argued that carbon dioxide emissions actually benefit the planet rather than drive harmful climate disruption, once claiming that carbon dioxide has been demonized much like “the poor Jews under Hitler”.
In the sense that he said and meant it Happer is right too. Here is what he says:
You’ve said in the past that the effect of carbon emissions on global warming is often greatly overstated. Can you briefly explain? By “carbon emissions” I think you mean CO2 — carbon dioxide — emissions. Doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will increase the average surface temperature by an amount often expressed as the equilibrium climate sensitivity. I don’t dispute the increase in average surface temperature; the question is how big it is. Straightforward theoretical estimates put the increase at about 1 degree Celsius when doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. A temperature increase of 1 C would be good for the Earth, modestly lengthening growing seasons and cutting winter heating bills. And it would take a century or two to double CO2 concentrations at the current rate of burning fossil fuels. In addition more CO2 will be a very major benefit to plants, increasing crop yields and making crops more resistant to drought. From the point of view of the alarmist establishment, that increase of 1 C is disappointingly small, so, they have invented many scenarios that supposedly give more warming. The present party line is that the increase would land between 1.5 C and 4 C.
He is in fact correct in all of the factual statements there. Increased CO2 does increase plant growth. That’s why people often enough artificially introduce CO2 into greenhouses. We have had a greening of the Earth in recent decades. It is true that we require feedbacks, positive ones, to get to the higher estimates of the effects upon temperature of atmospheric CO2 rises.
Happer is just giving us mainstream climate science there.
It may be that our policy efforts are missing the mark, and should be focused more on adapting to climate change than trying to prevent or curb it. Do you think that’s true? Adaptation is the only sensible strategy, since nothing we can do will stop natural climate change. Improved understanding of climate science will lead to better predictive capabilities, which will facilitate adaptation to the constant changes of climate that will continue to occur as they always have.
That’s more controversial, true, but then it would be. It’s an “ought” not an “is”. It’s also defensible. We’re going to have to do some adaptation whatever else we do. To say that we should do only adaptation is in fact rather less extreme than the insistence that we must immediately cease emissions to as to have to do none.
More from Happer:
Question 3: What policies are necessary to protect and improve scientists’ ability
to conduct research and share scientific information with policymakers.
Answer 3. Global-warming alarmists have tried to silence any who question the
party line of impending climate apocalypse. We need to establish a Team B of
competent scientists, charged with questioning the party line. The DoD and the
CIA do this, there was a devil’s advocate (promoter fidei) for sainthood, why not
the same for climate change?
Well, yes, that is actually how science works, isn’t it.
The climate-change establishment has tried to eliminate any who dare question
the science. This was made very clear in the Climategate Letters, which reveal the
blacklisting of research that strays from the party line with the aid of hostile peer
reviewers and helpful editors, and threats to any journal that did not cooperate — in
some cases leading to the removal of editors. Climate change science needs a “team
B.” This happens in many other areas, for example, weapons systems for DoD, or
intelligence assessments at CIA. Both of these organizations, and many others,
routinely establish robust team B’s, that is, groups of experts who work full time,
sometimes for several years, to challenge the establishment position. This has given us
much better weapons systems and intelligence. The team-B concept has not been
embraced by the climate change establishment. Indeed, we read testimony by Dr.
James Hanson in the Congressional Record, that climate skeptics are guilty of “high
crimes against humanity and nature.” There are many similarly intimidating statements
made by establishment climate scientists and by like-thinking policy-makers – you are
either with us or you are a traitor.
Fairly robust there but given that the BBC will no longer entertain an interview with anyone they dub a “climate denier” perhaps it would be a worthwhile exercise.
In February, he emailed NASA deputy administrator James Morhard, relaying a complaint about NASA’s websites from an unidentified rejecter of man-made climate change. “I’m concerned that many children are being indoctrinated by this bad science,” said the email that Happer relayed.
Well, if you think that climate change is happening but also that it’s not an emergency then yes, you might well be alarmed at the propaganda being directed at children. Greta Thunberg hasn’t invented all this stuff on her own, has she?
The Trump administration is reportedly considering creating a new panel headed by Happer to the question the broad scientific consensus that climate change is driven by human activity and is potentially dangerous. Democratic lawmakers have raised concerns over the proposed panel, saying it would fly in the face of scientific evidence.
And there’s why the flurry of articles about those emails. Because all too many people really don’t want there to be an examination of the subject. Note – not an examination of the basic science. But the conclusions that are being leapt to from it.
Head it off at the pass because an actual examination might come up with the same answer William Nordhaus – last year’s Nobel Laureate – did, stick on a carbon tax and we’re done. Or the Stern Review did – stick on a carbon tax and we’re done. Or the economic sections of the IPCC reports- stick on a carbon tax and we’re done.
And you know the thing that makes me really, really, suspicious? The Environmental Defence Fund. They’ve not got those emails up on their site. We’ve a few quotes, a line or two here, given to AP but not the context which would aid in making sense of them. The usual assumption in politics being that we’re not being told the whole story because it’s different from the one we are being told.
Let’s see those emails in full shall we, before making any further decisions? And if we’re not shown them then let’s treat the selective quotation with the contempt such behaviour deserves.
And as to climate change I’m with Exxon and the vast majority of economists. Sure, we might have a problem here, a chronic one. So, let’s stick on a carbon tax and we’re done. That is, I’m with the actual scientific consensus. Are you?