Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate

by William Happer

Testimony before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, December 8, 2015

I would like to express my thanks to Senator Cruz, Senator Thune, Senator Nelson and other members of this committee for inviting me to express my views at this hearing on climate science.

My name is William Happer. I recently retired from a career of over fifty years teaching physics at Princeton and Columbia Universities. I also served as the Director of the Office of Energy Research, now the Office of Science, in the US Department of energy from the years 1990 to 1993, where I was responsible for all the non-weapons basic research of the Department of Energy. In addition to areas like high energy physics, materials science, the human genome and others, I had responsibility for DOE’s work on climate science. During my time at DOE, my office established the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility, with remote sensing observatories all around the world. The facility is still going strong and providing high quality observational data on atmospheric physics.

After leaving DOE, I served as Princeton University’s equivalent of Vice President for Research from 1995 to 2005. I have published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers. Scientifically, I am probably best known for having invented the sodium guide star, used by modern ground based telescopes to remove much of the blurring of stellar images by atmospheric turbulence.

Along with other witnesses at this hearing, I hope to correct some misconceptions about the trace atmospheric gas, carbon dioxide or CO2. In spite of the drumbeat of propaganda, CO2 is not “carbon pollution.” As part of my written testimony, I have submitted the document, Carbon Dioxide Benefits the Word: See for Yourself. This document summarizes the view of the CO2 Coalition, a distinguished group of scientists, engineers, economists and others. The benefits that more CO2 brings from increased agricultural yields and modest warming far outweigh any harm.

Will Happer Testimony



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