Princeton physicist Will Happer's WSJ op-ed: "Global warming models are wrong again"
The former federal official calls climate's "observed response" to more CO2 "not in good agreement with model predictions."
March 27, 2012Published: March 27, 2012
By Steven T. Corneliussen
Princeton University physicist William Happer, a leader of American Physical Society opponents of APS's position on climate change, served as director of energy research at the Department of Energy from 1990 to 1993. In a 27 March Wall Street Journal op-ed, he contributes to the WSJ's campaign to see the climate consensus portrayed as an open scientific question.
Happer asks, "What is happening to global temperatures in reality?" He continues as follows:
The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years. Monthly values of the global temperature anomaly of the lower atmosphere, compiled at the University of Alabama from NASA satellite data, can be found at the website http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/. The latest (February 2012) monthly global temperature anomaly for the lower atmosphere was minus 0.12 degrees Celsius, slightly less than the average since the satellite record of temperatures began in 1979.
The lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned. The burning of fossil fuels has been one reason for an increase of CO2 levels in the atmosphere to around 395 ppm (or parts per million), up from preindustrial levels of about 280 ppm.
Happer argues that CO2 is not a pollutant, that higher levels will be a net benefit, that "many lines of observational evidence" show that warming predictions have been "greatly exaggerated," and that "a substantial fraction of the warming is from natural causes that have nothing to do with mankind." He offers data showing, he says, that extreme weather events have not become more common. Concerning tornadoes, he quotes Andrew Revkin:
[A]s one can read at Andrew Revkin's New York Times blog, dotearth, "There is no evidence of any trend in the number of potent tornadoes (category F2 and up) over the past 50 years in the United States, even as global temperatures have risen markedly."
Happer disdains "credulous support of schemes to reduce 'carbon footprints' " and the funding of "even more computer centers to predict global warming." He asserts, "It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions."
At the end he quotes "the late, great physicist, Richard Feynman" concerning the empirical nature of the search for new scientific laws, and then closes with this assertion:
The most important component of climate science is careful, long-term observations of climate-related phenomena, from space, from land, and in the oceans. If observations do not support code predictions—like more extreme weather, or rapidly rising global temperatures—Feynman has told us what conclusions to draw about the theory.
Steven T. Corneliussen, a media analyst for the American Institute of Physics, monitors three national newspapers, the weeklies Nature and Science, and occasionally other publications. He has published op-eds in the Washington Post and other newspapers, has written for NASA's history program, and is a science writer at a particle-accelerator laboratory.