Friday, May 21, 2010
Climate Depot’s Selected Highlights of Dr. Happer’s May 20, 2010 Congressional Testimony: (Dr. Happer’s Full Testimony here: (To read the warmists’ testimony of Ralph Cicerone, Stephen Schneider, and Ben Santer, see here. )
Dr. Will Happer’s Testimony Before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming – May 20, 2010
My name is William Happer, and I am the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases – one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. I am a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. I have done extensive consulting work for the US Government and Industry. I also served as the Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (DOE) from 1990 to 1993, where I supervised all of DOE’s work on climate change.
Key Excerpts: The CO2 absorption band is nearly “saturated” at current CO2 levels. Adding more CO2 is like putting an additional ski hat on your head when you already have a nice warm one below it, but you are only wearing a windbreaker. The extra hat makes you a little bit warmer but to really get warm, you need to add a jacket. The IPCC thinks that this jacket is water vapor and clouds. [...]
The climate-change establishment has tried to eliminate any who dare question the science establishment climate scientists and by like-thinking policy-makers – you are either with us or you are a traitor.
Orwellian: I keep hearing about the “pollutant CO2,” or about “poisoning the atmosphere” with CO2, or about minimizing our “carbon footprint.” This brings to mind a comment by George Orwell: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving “pollutant” and “poison” of their original meaning. Our exhaled breath contains about 4% CO2. That is 40,000 parts per million, or about 100 times the current atmospheric concentration. CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth. Commercial greenhouse operators often use CO2 as a fertilizer to improve the health and growth rate of their plants. Plants, and our own primate ancestors evolved when the levels of atmospheric CO2 were at least 1000 ppm, a level that we will probably not reach by burning fossil fuels, and far above our current level of about 380 ppm. We try to keep CO2 levels in our US Navy submarines no higher than 8,000 parts per million, about 20 time current atmospheric levels. Few adverse effects are observed at even higher levels. [...]
That we are (or were) living at the best of all CO2 concentrations seems to be an article of faith for the climate-change establishment. Enormous effort and imagination have gone into showing that increasing concentrations of CO2 will be catastrophic: cities will be flooded by sea-level rises that are ten or more times bigger than even IPCC predicts, there will be mass extinctions of species, billions of people will die, tipping points will render the planet a desert. Any flimsy claim of harm from global warming brings instant fame and many rewards.
(ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW)
Sea Level: The sea level is indeed rising, just as it has for the past 20,000 years since the end of the last ice age. Fairly accurate measurements of sea level have been available since about 1800. These measurements show no sign of any acceleration. The rising sea level can be a serious local problem for heavily-populated, low-lying areas like New Orleans, where land subsidence compounds the problem. But to think that limiting CO2 emissions will stop sea level rise is a dangerous illusion. It is also possible that the warming seas around Antarctica will cause more snowfall over the continent and will counteract the sea-level rise.
Hockey Stick: I was very surprised when I first saw the celebrated “hockey stick curve,” in the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. Both the little ice age and the medieval warm period were gone, and the newly revised temperature of the world since the year 1000 had suddenly become absolutely flat until the last hundred years when it shot up like the blade on a hockey stick. This was far from an obscure detail, and the hockey stick was trumpeted around the world as evidence that the end was near. We now know that the hockey stick has nothing to do with reality but was the result of incorrect handling of proxy temperature records and incorrect statistical analysis. There really was a little ice age and there really was a medieval warm period that was as warm or warmer than today. I bring up the hockey stick as a particularly clear example that the IPCC summaries for policy makers are not dispassionate statements of the facts of climate change.
Conclusion: I regret that the climate-change issue has become confused with serious problems like secure energy supplies, protecting our environment, and figuring out where future generations will get energy supplies after we have burned all the fossil fuel we can find. We should not confuse these laudable goals with hysterics about carbon footprints. For example, when weighing pluses and minuses of the continued or increased use of coal, the negative issue should not be increased atmospheric CO2, which is probably good for mankind. We should focus on real issues like damage to the land and waterways by strip mining, inadequate remediation, hazards to miners, the release of real pollutants and poisons like mercury, other heavy metals, organic carcinogens, etc.
Life is about making decisions and decisions are about trade-offs. The Congress can choose to promote investment in technology that addresses real problems and scientific research that will let us cope with real problems more efficiently.
Or they can act on unreasonable fears and suppress energy use, economic growth and the benefits that come from the creation of national wealth.
This article was posted: Friday, May 21, 2010 at 11:26 am