Climate Denier William Happer: CO2 “Demonized like Jews”.

July 17, 2014

Huffington Post:

“The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” said Princeton University professor William Happer while being interviewed on “Squawk Box” on CNBC. Before host Andrew Ross Sorkin could respond in incredulity, Happer went on to say, “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Happer was introduced as an expert on climate change, despite there being no proof that he is one. When ExxonMobil donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Happer’s organization, the Marshall Institute, they probably didn’t expect him to make such haphazard comments.

Dr. Happer has been Chairman of the Board of the Marshall Institute, which, among other initiatives, has denied the threat of global climate change, and, regular readers will not be surprised, fought against stronger regulations on the tobacco industry.  Consider Dr. Happer’s credibility in light of the following.


In 1989 at the same time it began a “Climate Change Policy Program,” the Marshall Institute released a report arguing that “cyclical variations in the intensity of the sun would offset any climate change associated with elevated greenhouse gases.” Although it was refuted by the IPCC, the report was used by the Bush Sr. Administration to argue for a more lenient climate change policy.

GMI has since published a series of reports and articles that attempt to discredit mainstream climate science and undermine climate change legislation such as the Kyoto Protocol.

The Marshall Institute’s “Climate Change Policy” program was started in 1989 as a “critical examination of the scientific basis for global climate change policy.” Notably, “A major component of this effort is communicating the findings to policy makers, the media and the public policy community.” [2]

In a 2009 essay, former Executive Director Matthew B. Crawford had this to say about his initial experience with the Marshall Institute (emphasis added):

“… certain perversities became apparent as I settled into the job. It sometimes required me to reason backward, from desired conclusion to suitable premise. The organization had taken certain positions, and there were some facts it was more fond of than others. As its figurehead, I was making arguments I didn’t fully buy myself. Further, my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world, from which he had recently come. This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.” [3]

Newsweek has described GMI as a “central cog in the denial machine,” and Naomi Oreskes has said that the Institute has lobbied politically to create a false perception of scientific uncertainty over the negative effects of second-hand smoke, the carcinogenic nature of tobacco smoking, the existence of acid rain, and on the evidence between CFCs and ozone depletion. [15], [16]

Media Transparency lists the George C. Marshall Institute’s funding as follows [5]

According to Greenpeace’s ExxonSecrets, the George C. Marshall Institute has received$840,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. [6]



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28 Responses to “Climate Denier William Happer: CO2 “Demonized like Jews”.”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    Can we just give all these “demonizing” morons a permanent Godwin’s Law prize?

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    Another so-called “scientist” whose background in obscure areas of physics does not qualify him to make intelligent comments about climate change. He probably signed the Oregon Petition as well.

    And when are these right-wing fools going to learn that bringing up the Jews, the Holocaust, and Hitler is just about as senseless as saying that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant?

    Another of Happer’s idiotic statements is that the fight against AGW is similar to the Prohibition movement, and both movements hurt the country. View “Bill Happer debunks, then destroys global warming alarmism & hysteria in 7 minutes”. It’s a clip of testimony before congress.

    IMO, all it destroys is Happer’s credibility and makes one wonder if he is in the early stages of senility.

    • skeptictmac57 Says:

      Legitimate use of fossil fuels cannot cause global warming.Mother Nature has ways of shutting that whole ‘greenhouse effect’ down.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        LMAO And just as it is with the “legitimate rapist”, the “legitimate fossil fuel users” have all the fun (and get rich as well), while the victims pay the “imaginary” price.

      • “Legitimate use of fossil fuels cannot cause global warming.Mother Nature has ways of shutting that whole ‘greenhouse effect’ down.”

        Do you have relevant WoS journal science to support your claim, or did you just pluck that out of your fundament? Please, no toilet-tissue from Happer.

        I don’t believe you. Have you heard of the PETM, or Venus?

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Uh, Pro-Am? Read it all again. I do believe skepticman was making a joke, and a clever one it was… fooled you. apparently.

          • skeptictmac57 Says:

            Too dry? ;)

          • He should learn about Poe’s Law.

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Yes, Poe’s Law does apply here, you are right to point that out, and I often ignore it myself. Perhaps you don’t visit Crock often enough to have noted that the Crock community has very few ignorant deniers or conservative fools on the roster. Or perhaps they don’t comment often—-either way, IMO the vast majority of outrageously ignorant and provocative remarks here ARE meant to be satirical—-many of us enjoy playing with words that way.

          • skeptictmac57 Says:

            Actually,there are a lot of fudamentalist Christians who fervently believe that God would never allow our world to be destroyed by AGW.
            To them I always say…”Well he’s sent us two boats and a helicopter.The rest is up to us” ;)

            So I understand that my satire might sound all too real to some.

          • climatehawk1 Says:

            I just don’t understand how they are going to herd carbon dioxide into cattle cars. Won’t it all just escape?

      • anotheralionel Says:

        skeptictmac57 Said:

        “Actually,there are a lot of fudamentalist Christians who fervently believe that God would never allow our world to be destroyed by AGW.”

        Here is an antidote to such thinking, a bookmark I created a few years back.

        I have a file with five of these for printing out on one sheet of thick paper/thin card. My library is littered with various versions of over the years as it developed with more book covers.

        I could also offer a nifty geological time spiral, which includes a eon/era/period/epoch tree, if though useful. Just ask and I’ll post a link.

  3. How about putting a plastic bag over his head while he tells us about how harmless CO2 is.

  4. mbrysonb Says:

    That corporate style really gets things done– who cares whether they’re good things? So long as the people who count get paid, it’s ‘all good’, right? (And shut up if you disagree.)

  5. It’s amazing that Happer is so deceitful (or ignorant) when he compares his situation with that of Galileo. The difference is that the consensus at the time of Galileo, wasn’t scientific, it was based upon religious ideology, and Galileo’s problem was that he merely reported his observations. Whereas Happer’s position is demonstrably not based upon science or observations, but libertarian ideology and the behaviour of CO2 is based, both upon physics and observations. The current scientific consensus is a consequence of the evidence.
    So, Happer is either incompetent, or he’s being dishonest.

    I find it hard to disagree with what Upton Sinclair said:
    ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.’

    • Happer’s position isn’t even libertarian.  Standard-issue libertarianism allows individuals to seek compensatory or injunctive relief via courts.  If Happer is any kind of libertarian, he’s a “paycheck libertarian” who sells his advocacy to the highest bidder regardless of scientific evidence.

  6. skeptictmac57 Says:

    On the next Intelligence Squared Debate: Climate change is real,and a clear and present danger to our world.
    Arguing for the proposition is climate scientist Michael Mann who says that the physics of CO2 has been well established for over a hundred years,and that rising levels of CO2 in our atmosphere has to raise the Earth’s average temperature.Also arguing for the proposition is Dr. Richard Alley whose research with ice cores shows that we have raised CO2 levels artificially and rapidly as compared to the past,and as a result,we can anticipate rapid increases of sea levels and other negative effects along with rising temperatures.

    On the opposed side,we have Dr William Happer,who makes the case of “Shut up,shut up,shut,up!!!!”. And blogger Anthony Watts who makes the argument “Al Gore!”

    I’m John Donvan,and This is Inelligence Squared…

  7. ubrew12 Says:

    Matthew Crawford: “my boss seemed intent on retraining me according to a certain cognitive style — that of the corporate world… This style demanded that I project an image of rationality but not indulge too much in actual reasoning.” Is it the broad corporate opinion, then, that capitalism be irrational? “the conclusions are in, just make up the facts that lead to them”? This explains a lot: not least the popping of an $11 trillion housing bubble, and the deep suspicion that the current recovery has merely inflated another one. Capitalism is not supposed to take leave of its senses because you know what else is irrational? The guillotine. Irrationality is like a virus, corporate boardrooms are delusional to think they could long harness it to their advantage.

    • jimbills Says:

      Irrationality isn’t a virus. It’s our core.

      Man’s natural instinct is to pick and choose what info they receive (confirmation bias) and to limit ‘uncomfortable’ reasoning – rationality is a function of the willingness to submit oneself to often painful information and reasoning and the mental capacity and capability of handling this process. We’re built to limit rationality to bring peace to the mind (religions have tenets to limit questioning) and to strengthen group cohesion (why do we have locals rooting for local sports teams, for instance, as there’s nothing inherently irrational about it) – as both traits enhance evolutionary fitness.

      Capitalism amplifies the process of limiting rationality by subjugating all human interaction to the profit motive. All rational thoughts that contradicts or limits the profit motive must be denied/fought against/distracted from, because as the profit motive is the primary objective, all other motives are reduced to secondary options.

      We naturally have other motives than just the profit motive, but we live in a system that enforces the primacy of the profit motive. Those blindly and slavishly bending their desires to just the profit motive (and some are probably born that way, anyway) find themselves as the greatest beneficiaries of this system. The tend to be the CEOs of the world. They also often find themselves working in think tanks.

      The profit motive is inherently short-term (what did we earn this quarter, should I flip this stock, this company could boost profits by firing 5,000 people, we can cut down this forest to create cheap decking lumber or raise cows, and so on), so our goals as a society are also inherently short-term.

      • jimbills Says:

        error: why do we have locals rooting for local sports teams, for instance, as there’s nothing inherently –rational– about it (other than as a group unifying agent)

      • ubrew12 Says:

        I have no problem subjugating ‘secondary options’ to the profit motive, but unhappily for Citibank and the Koch Brothers, I had some occasion as a younger person to hike through old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest. Hence, the problem, as I see it, isn’t the profit motive. It’s the “coin of the realm”. I prefer conservation selfishly. I want it for myself. I want that wealth selfishly, and I don’t pretend it is measured in dollars, because I already know, have seen for myself, that it cannot be. But I’m no Mother Teresa. I’m profoundly selfish: we (conservatives and I) just disagree about what we’re supposed to be selfish about.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I can’t say it too many times—-read Bright-Sided. It’s only just over 200 pages long, and Ehrenreich spends quite some time speaking to the irrationality of modern capitalism. Both you and jimbills will find much of interest there.

  8. climatehawk1 Says:

    Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation is a Koch family foundation.

  9. 1) As climatehakwk1 notes, Claude Lambe Foundation is a Koch item, specifically one of Charles Koch’s known 3 foundation (C.G. Koch, C.L. Lambe, and Knowledge an progress.

    2) less obvious, Carthage is one of Richard Mellon Scaife’s, along with Sara Scaife Foundation. RMS inherited a lot of money. He died just recently.

    See Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony(2010) on Scaife and GMI. Those foundations’ biggest stock holders are in oil & tobacco.

    For a later and really comprehensive study of funding flows by Bob Brulle, see Study Details Dark Money Flowing to Climate Science Denial(2013)

    3) Happer is actually (and probably deservedly) a Member of the National Academy of Sciences for his work in atomic physics. This just shows that ideology nullifies laws of physics.
    In 2009, Happer was one of the key drivers behind a a silly petition to get the American Physical Society to water down its (vanilla) statement on climate. With much publicity, they got less than 0.5% of the APS membership, heavily skewed towards old men.
    Happer didn’t much like my report there. Eli Kintisch quoted him in Science
    “Will Happer, a physicist at Princeton University who questions the consensus view on climate, thinks Mashey is a destructive force who uses “totalitarian tactics”—publishing damaging documents online, without peer review—to carry out personal vendettas.”
    I treasure that quote.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You are certainly justified in “treasuring” that quote. It’s not everyone who can say that they’ve been labeled a “destructive force” and a user of “totalitarian tactics” by one who is himself a seriously destructive force and uses tactics like screaming “shut up” at those who dare to disagree with him. Wonderful irony.

  10. […] week’s piece about Big Tobacco loving Physicist William Happer sparked some discussions, again, about the eerie affinity climate deniers have for  deadly, […]

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