William Happer

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William Happer, born 1939 (age 78–79), is a climate change denier and Professor of Physics at Princeton University, specialising in MRI imaging. He has no training in climate science. He is also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute and is on the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a denier think tank.[1]

From 1987 to 1990 he served as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the JASON Committee.

He testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in February 2009.[2]

He is the author of a 'briefing paper' by the Global Warming Policy Foundation entitled 'The Truth About Greenhouse Gases'. Happer writes 'We conclude that atmospheric CO2 levels should be above about 150 ppm to avoid harming green plants and below about 5000 ppm to avoid harming people. That is a big range, and our atmosphere is much closer to the lower end than the upper end.'[3]

Happer helped to organize a group called the CO2 Coalition , through which his fees are paid. [4]

"In Defense of Carbon Dioxide"

In a two author op-ed piece featured in the Wall Street Journal entitled "In Defense of Carbon Dioxide", Harrison Schmitt and William Happer make the case that excess carbon dioxide is not bringing about detrimental climate change but is in fact necessary and beneficial. The authors criticize global warming theories as they relate to carbon dioxide, stating, "Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant." The authors follow with their take on how to interpret scientific evidence on the matter, concluding, "There isn't the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather."[5]

As a direct response to the claims made and scientific evidence used in this piece, Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit watchdog group, published a specific response addressing several points posited in the op-ed. Beginning with a reference to Schmitt and Happer as "authors with no peer-reviewed papers on the topic and ties to groups funded by the oil industry," Media Matters presents contrary evidence to the information in the op-ed, citing work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, the World Bank, the National Research Council, Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times, Skeptical Science, and several other scientists and academics.[6] This response goes on to expose the authors' history, illustrating their lack of peer-reviewed research on the topic and their ties to the oil industry. Media Matters' profile on Schmitt highlights his former position as Director at the oil industry-funded Heartland Institute. Happer's profile identifies his status as current chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, a recipient of funding from the oil industry as well as the Koch brothers.

Jack Williams, the director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research and geography professor from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where Schmitt serves as an adjunct professor, also responded critically to the piece. "I think they're ignoring the scientific evidence," Williams posits, "...it's a bit of a one-sided perspective on the effects of CO2."[7]


  • “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what they are now”.[3]
  • "I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind."[3]

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Global Warming Policy Foundation, "Academic Advisory Council,", organizational website, accessed May 16, 2013
  2. SPPI Reprint Series, Statement of William Happer Before the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committe, February 25, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 William Happer, The Truth About Greenhouse Gases,, Global Warming Policy Foundation, undated
  4. [1]
  5. Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer, In Defense of Carbon Dioxide, Wall Street Journal - Opinion, May 8, 2013.
  6. Shauna Theel, Wall Street Journal's Idiocracy: CO2 Is What Plants Crave, Media Matters for America, May 9, 2013.
  7. Steven Elbow, UW Adjunct Prof Pens an Op-ed Denying Effects of Carbon Dioxide, Cap Times, May 15, 2013.

External resources

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