It’s safe to assume no one consciously sets out to challenge a narrative as deeply entrenched and emotionally charged as climate change. Dr William Happer, an American physicist and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics at Princeton University, certainly didn’t. It was only in 1991, upon Happer’s appointment by President George W Bush as director of Energy Research in the US Department of Energy, that his interaction with climate change authorities – and their refusal to engage in customary scientific debate on climate change – piqued his interest. Thereafter, Happer was dismissed for his contrarian views and ‘head butting’ with climate change luminary Al Gore, only to be brought back to Washington by former president Donald Trump in 2018. BizNews spoke to Happer (83) about his prodigious career and discovery that the burgeoning climate change hysteria had no scientific basis. Happer meticulously detailed why and how CO2, the “demon gas”, is not a pollutant but is essential to mankind’s prosperity. – Nadya Swart
Excerpts from the interview with Professor William Happer
Professor William Happer on the effect of carbon dioxide on planet Earth
Carbon dioxide is what drives life on Earth. The growth of plants depends on carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide in the air diffuses into the leaves of plants through little holes, and the plants combine this with water and it requires energy. This energy comes from sunlight. So, the combination of carbon dioxide, the so-called pollutant, water and sunlight is what makes life. You know, that’s what we live on. And carbon dioxide at the present time is much lower [in] concentration than has prevailed over most of geological history. [During] most of geological history, it’s pretty clear from proxy records, CO2 levels have been two or three times greater than they are now. We probably don’t have enough fossil fuels around to restore those levels where plants evolve and where they function best.
But even the relatively small increases we’ve had – from maybe 280, 300 parts per million 200 years ago to a little over 400 today – that’s not a big increase. It’s 35%, maybe. But it has caused greening all around the Earth. You can see that from satellites looking down over the last two or three decades. Earth is getting greener. Especially arid regions are getting greener. You know, the edges of the great deserts of the Earth are shrinking. They’re not growing, they are shrinking.
They’re shrinking because of more CO2. And the reason is that there are a number of benefits from more CO2, but one of the most important ones is that if there’s more CO2, plants can live with less water. They don’t waste as much water with more CO2 in the air, because they grow leaves with fewer holes in them so they don’t leak as much water. And the little holes, the stomata – the little mouths, that’s what it means and it’s where the CO2 comes in – don’t open as wide. So, the problem with sucking CO2 out of the air, which is what plants have to do, is for every CO2 molecule that diffuses into your leaf, you lose a hundred water molecules diffusing the other way. This is a real dilemma for the planet.
It’s true. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and it warms the Earth, but the warming isn’t enough to matter. It’s very small. And so, it’s probably beneficial on balance. If you double CO2, it seems like a lot, that’s a 100% increase of CO2. How much does that affect the cooling radiation that goes off to space? That sounds like a lot, but in effect it only decreases the radiation to space by 1%. So, 100% increase of CO2, 1% decrease in radiation to space. It’s a very small effect, and you don’t have to change the Earth’s temperature very much or cloudiness very much to bring it back into equilibrium with the situation before you increase the CO2.
So, it’s an ineffective climate influencer. Yet you get this demon gas that is going to cause us all to boil to death or something like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s a trivial gas, but it’s very, very good for life on Earth. More CO2 has been wonderful for mankind because it helps provide the abundance of food we have today and it’s caused no harm, whatever.
On climate change activism having become like a religious cult
It is a religious cult for many people. Many people have stopped believing in traditional religions, you know? So, they don’t believe in God, but they need something beyond themselves to believe in. What could be more noble than saving the planet? “The planet is threatened by the demon gas CO2, so we’re going to save it.” The fact that it means essentially suicide for the human race doesn’t get into their brains. But that is what it means. You cannot immediately eliminate CO2 and let the human population survive. It can’t be done. So, it’s a suicide pact, you know, what is being proposed.
The movement is a joke – a little bit – but it’s not so different from a coalition of organised crime and religious fanaticism. And the religious fanatics … You know, you don’t argue with someone about their religion. This is not a joking matter. It brings crusades and religious wars and God knows what. So, that’s a big problem. There is this religious aspect; so many people now have been brainwashed into thinking there really is an emergency. And anyone who stands in the way of saving the planet is Satan incarnate. They are sincere people but they’re just badly misled.
Many of the most vociferous climate emergency folks; if you press them, they say, “Yes, the real problem is not fossil fuels, it’s human beings. You know, there are just too many people. We should not have more than a billion people.” We’re roughly eight billion now, so that means seven out of eight of us should disappear from the planet. This is extremely dangerous. It’s an evil cult.
On what has been lost owing to climate hysteria
The alarmist community recognised 20 years ago that the warming is a lot less than their models had predicted. “Just you wait,” they’d say, “Sooner or later it will warm. But in the meantime, we need something else to keep the alarm going.” And they seized on extreme weather and rising sea levels and ocean acidification… Things that really were not warming. And they changed the name from global warming to climate change because warming wasn’t going to cut it. There wasn’t enough warming.
Earth has an unstable climate which isn’t very well understood to this day, and it would be wonderful if we understood it better. But I think our ability to understand it has been set back very badly by the climate hysteria. So, what could’ve been 20, 30 years of good, basic research and real understanding of the climate has been wasted with hysteria about this false climate emergency, which does not exist. In the meantime, the real parts of the climate – which would be good to understand – have been ignored.
- “There’s no emergency” – dissident climatologist Dr Judith Curry on the ‘manufactured scientific consensus’ on climate change
- ‘The great pandemic fraud’ – bioterrorism expert and internist Dr Meryl Nass draws parallels between the Ebola, anthrax, and Covid-19 epidemics
- SA’s activist lawyer Erin Richards says compelling evidence and Pfizer’s own data shows it lied by claiming Covid vaccine was “safe and effective”