President Donald Trump just appointed William Happer for the key job of “senior director for emerging technologies” at the National Security Council.
So much for finding someone who understands that perhaps the most crucial emerging technologies for the security of America and all of humanity involve reducing carbon pollution. Sadly this continues the trend of this administration ceding the biggest job creating sector of the next few decades — clean energy — to the Chinese and Europeans, who are betting tens of billions of dollars on it.
Happer, a Princeton theoretical physicist is one of the most extreme climate science deniers, and someone who directly compared the overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon dioxide causes global warming to Nazi “propaganda.”
“This is George Orwell. This is the ‘Germans are the master race. The Jews are the scum of the earth.’ It’s that kind of propaganda,” Happer told The Daily Princetonian in 2009. “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult.”
In 2014, he told CNBC, “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”
So what exactly are his qualifications to be a top adviser for the president on “emerging technologies” at the National Security Council?
His only really relevant credential is that he served as director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Research under President George H. W. Bush. But that was a quarter-century ago, and the DOE’s “Energy Research” program is focused primarily on very basic, long-term research (like high-energy physics) as opposed to more applied research into emerging technologies.
Since then, Happer has shifted farther and farther away from scientific reality towards becoming a fossil fuel-funded science denier.
For many years, he was chairman of the board of the George C. Marshall Institute, which was funded in part by the Koch brothers to promote climate science denial. The Institute shuttered in 2015, and essentially reopened under the new name, The CO2 coalition, which promotes the benefits of more CO2 and spreads climate disinformation
He also writes and co-signs anti-science Wall Street Journal op-eds. In 2012, for instance, he co-signed one that was debunked by three dozen actual climate scientists — the co-signers were described as, “Dentists Practicing Cardiology.”
Happer’s widely debunked 2013 pro-CO2 Wall Street Journal op-ed asserts, “in an age of rising population and scarcities of food and water in some regions, it’s a wonder that humanitarians aren’t clamoring for more atmospheric carbon dioxide.”
This myth has been widely debunked (see, for instance, Skeptical Science). Yes, more CO2 can help plants grow — if they also get more water and other nutrients. But more CO2 is a disaster for humans, since billions of humans currently live in places that will be flooded or turned into Dust Bowls or becoming too hot for humans as temperatures rise due to carbon emissions — a major scientific report reviewed by the Trump White House itself acknowledged this last November.
The reality is that Happer knows little about emerging technologies or real threats to America’s national security but he does know a great deal about denying climate science. And, sadly, that appears to be the only qualification you need to join the Trump team these days.