Princeton Professor, William Happer, speaks at Argonne about Global Warming

March 27, 2013


Peirce and Happer 010

Professor Happer (left)  and Steve Goreham, author of:  “The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism”


Professor William Happer, a distinguished professor of physics at Princeton University and a Global Warming Skeptic, was invited to speak at Argonne Lab on Friday, March 22, at a Physics Division Colloquium hosted by Dr. Richard Chasman, post retirement Research Participant at Argonne National Laboratory.

Profession Happer created quite a stir back in 2011 when he published an essay strongly critical of global warming alarmism in a 2011 issue of First Things.  Professor Happer’s original First Things article can be found at . This second link displays a slightly revised version published for an European audience:

It was during the prior week on Friday March 15, that President Obama had traveled to Argonne in a 747 with a message that spoke of weaning this nation from its dependence on oil to favored green energy sources.  Obama’s Argonne visit was in line with his politically-motivated green energy push, based on a belief that man-made Global Warming exists and is a threat to mankind. 

As a prelude to Professor Happer’s Argonne visit, through introductory information, Happer offered the following heads up about the nature of the remarks he planned to make during his Argonne visit:

“I intend to review some of the facts about climate, the plateau of surface temperatures over the past decade or two, a bit of paleoclimate, some of the basic physics of the greenhouse effect, etc.  I think the observational record is crystal clear that models have greatly exaggerated the warming that increased CO2 will cause.  It is likely this is the result of many factors, all fudged to make the warming look more frightening.  the most obvious suspects are water vapor feedback, clouds, and direct radiative forcing.

Professor Happer’s selected topic, Why Has Global Warming Paused?, had two distinct sections defined by Happer as the “forest” and the “trees.”   Happer’s  “forest” comments made sense to the lay person, but when his comments gave way to discussing the “trees,” a back ground in physics was required, which was the situation with most of the attendees.

A slide displayed on a screen in front of the auditorium near the end of Professor Happer’s presentation, however, was helpful in summing up the reasons expressed in detail by Happer in his talk, expressly, why global warming has paused.  Reasons given:

  • Qualitatively, more CO2 almost certainly causes some warming.
  • Complicated physics makes it difficult to quantify the warming.
  • Essentially all of the warming and coolings before 1900 were were natural.
  • Much of the warming of the past century was probably natural.
  • The radiative forcing from more CO2 has probably been overestimated
  • One possible reason, poorly modeled far-wing lineshapes, has been discussed.
  • Feedback from water vapor and clouds may have been over-estimated, too.
  • Contributions from long term natural cycles have probably been underestimated.

               The Sun
Cosmic Rays
Pacific Decadal Oscillation
Atlantic Meridional Oscillation
etc, etc.


During Professor Happer’s “forest” talk segment, many of his short summation slide statements listed above were flushed out in detail, resulting in these salient thoughts, much like frosting on a cake:


1. Co2 Levels have been much higher than current levels, typically several thousand parts per million, during most of the last 550 million years, the geological time span when higher life forms developed.


2.  Increasing atmospheric CO2 has been demonized for years as supposedly leading to catastrophic Global Warming, yet there has been little Global Warming for 15 years.  Why?  Because there are many other factors which impact the earth’s temperature as much or more than CO2.


3. The earth warms and cools in cycles.  A warming period began 200 years ago.  When John Muir, the first president of the Sierra Club, traveled to Glacier Bay in 1879 he found that it had lost most of the ice that had filled the Bay around 1790, when Vancouver first mapped it.  By 1900 there was very little ice left.  This was clearly a natural event that had nothing to do with CO2.


4.  Following a cooling phase from about 1940 to 1980, there was a warming phase from about 1980 to 2000.   


5. Clouds are big drivers of climate.  Low clouds reflect sunlight and tend to cool the surface.  Thin, high Cirrus Clouds cause warming. 


6.  During the 80′s there was an increase in the Global Mean Temperature by a few tenths of a degree C, but since 1998 there has been little change in temperature, even though CO2 levels have continued to rise.


7.  Even the mass media is beginning to notice that things are not working out as predicted.  Der Spiegel on January 19 finally got around to conceding that global warming has ended, at least for the time being.


8.  CO2 is only one of many gases in the atmosphere which include:  Nitrogen, Oxygen, Water vapor, CO2, Ozone, Methane, and Nitrous Oxide.


9.  The CO2 absorption bank is “saturated” in the sense that doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere will not double the greenhouse warming from CO2, but will cause only a small additional warming.


10. Because its absorption bands cover a larger part of the thermal emission spectrum of the earth, water vapor is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.  Most water vapor condenses out to droplets or ice crystals in the lower atmosphere, so there is much more uncertainty on how changes of water vapor will increase or decrease the direct warming from CO2.  The amplified warming assumed by many models does not seem to agree with observations. 


11.The commonly used Voigt Profile for the resonance absorption lines of CO2 exaggerates the warming potential by a factor of about 1.4.  Modeling climate change discussed at


This final statement made by Professor William Happer is one that all thinking individuals should abide by who are not about to succumb to those who allow emotions to rule, or to those individuals who insist on using bogus science, rather than scientific truth and evidence, to reach conclusions:


“I am in revolt against the age-old lie that the majority is always right.”  From Ibsen “An Enemy of the People.”




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