Princeton physics professor testifies to Senate about global warming

UPDATE: Welcome visitors from two or three . net!

This transcript was sent to me by my friend Richard. It is an 11 page PDF containing the full testimony of William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. This testimony was given on February 25, 2009 to the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chaired by Democrat Barbara Boxer.

I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. 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.

Here, he explains the limited role that CO2 plays in global warming, and also why an increase in CO2 will not have a continued effect on the warming, because the limit of what CO2 can do has already been reached.

Without greenhouse warming, the earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. However, at least 90% of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player. There is little argument in the scientific community that a direct effect of doubling the CO2 concentration will be a small increase of the earth’s temperature — on the order of one degree. Additional increments of CO2 will cause relatively less direct warming because we already have so much CO2 in the atmosphere that it has blocked most of the infrared radiation that it can.

So CO2 really won’t lead to increased warming directly, unless it somehow causes the warming from water vapor and clouds to increase. But, the evidence clearly shows that this is not the case. In fact, increasing the CO2 level decreases the warming effects of water vapor and clouds.

Since most of the greenhouse effect for the earth is due to water vapor and clouds, added CO2 must substantially increase water’s contribution to lead to the frightening scenarios that are bandied about. The buzz word here is that there is “positive feedback.” With each passing year, experimental observations further undermine the claim of a large positive feedback from water. In fact, observations suggest that the feedback is close to zero and may even be negative. That is, water vapor and clouds may actually diminish the already small global warming expected from CO2, not amplify it.

But doesn’t the corelation between rising CO2 levels and increased warming imply causation?

No, the current warming period began about 1800 at the end of the little ice age, long before there was an appreciable increase of CO2. There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels. The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models.

But what about the hockey stick graph, that, like the images of Haeckel’s embryos, has been used to terrify a generation of children taught in the government-run schools about the dangers of capitalism and economic growth? Surely scientists wouldn’t lie to manufacture a crisis that would lead to bigger government, bigger tax revenues, and more research grants?

When I was a schoolboy, my textbooks on earth science showed a prominent “medieval warm period” at the time the Vikings settled Greenland, followed by a vicious “little ice age” that drove them out. So I was very surprised when I first saw the celebrated “hockey stick curve,” in the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC. I could hardly believe my eyes. 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…. The IPCC has made no serious attempt to model the natural variations of the earth’s temperature in the past. Whatever caused these large past variations, it was not due to people burning coal and oil.

But what about Al Gore, a brilliant 2-time university drop-out with a C average and an unparalleled talent for smoking pot? Surely he understands atmospheric science better than lousy professors of physics from Princeton?

By looking at ice cores from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, one can estimate past temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Al Gore likes to display graphs of temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past million years or so, showing that when CO2 rises, the temperature also rises. Doesn’t this prove that the temperature is driven by CO2? Absolutely not! If you look carefully at these records, you find that first the temperature goes up, and then the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere goes up. There is a delay between a temperature increase and a CO2 increase of about 800 years. This casts serious doubt on CO2 as a climate driver because of the fundamental concept of causality. A cause must precede its effect….In the case of the ice cores, the cause of increased CO2 is almost certainly the warming of the oceans. The oceans release dissolved CO2 when they warm up, just like a glass of beer rapidly goes flat in a warm room.

But my teacher says that CO2 is a poison that will destroy us all! We need big government (and increased teacher pay) to save us all from fiery doom!

We are all aware that “the green revolution” has increased crop yields around the world…. no small part of the yield improvement has come from increased atmospheric levels of CO2…. If we really were to decrease our current level of CO2 of around 400 ppm to the 270 ppm that prevailed a few hundred years ago, we would lose some of the benefits of the green revolution. Crop yields will continue to increase as CO2 levels go up, since we are far from the optimum levels for plant growth. Commercial greenhouse operators are advised to add enough CO2 to maintain about 1000 ppm around their plants. Indeed, economic studies like those of Dr. Robert Mendelsohn at Yale University project that moderate warming is an overall benefit to mankind because of higher agricultural yields and many other reasons.

But doesn’t consensus determine truth?

We are told that only a few flat-earthers still have any doubt about the calamitous effects of continued CO2 emissions…. First, what is correct in science is not determined by consensus but by experiment and observations…. Secondly, I do not think there is a consensus about an impending climate crisis.

But if that is true, then why is no one speaking out against this politicized science?

Many distinguished scientific journals now have editors who further the agenda of climate-change alarmism. Research papers with scientific findings contrary to the dogma of climate calamity are rejected by reviewers, many of whom fear that their research funding will be cut if any doubt is cast on the coming climate catastrophe…. Certainly, it is a bit unnerving to read statements of Dr. James Hansen in the Congressional Record that climate skeptics are guilty of “high crimes against humanity and nature.”

Even elementary school teachers and writers of children’s books are enlisted to terrify our children and to promote the idea of impending climate doom…. children should not be force-fed propaganda, masquerading as science. Many of you may know that in 2007 a British Court ruled that if Al Gore’s book, “An Inconvenient Truth,” was used in public schools, the children had to be told of eleven particularly troubling inaccuracies.

Read the whole thing! And don’t forget to read more about dissent from global warming, melting polar ice caps, Obama’s planned tax hikes on oil and gas, deceptive alarmism to procure research funding, the cost of green jobs programs and the use of made-up crises in order to impose socialism.

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