Accuracy in Media


President Trump is said to be planning to form a panel to assess whether climate change is a national security threat, and the mainstream media has pounced on the man expected to lead it.

William Happer, a physicist who pioneered the development of adaptive optics as a professor at Princeton, has “bizarre, backward views about science,” according to a subhead on a story about the panel on Vox.

Happer’s views “are sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous for the planet,” wrote the New York Times.

He is a “science denier with a history of controversial comments,” read the lead on HuffPost.

Vanity Fair wrote that the administration has “truly outdone itself this time” with the selection of Happer.

But then, these are desperate times. “With certain lawmakers, irksome citizens and … the director of national intelligence insisting that climate change is the most imminent threat of our lifetime, the White House knew it needed to do more to convince people this whole thing was a hoax,” Vanity Fair wrote.

It did this by appointing Happer, who “makes coal lobbyist-turned-Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler look like a radical environmentalist.”

Happer’s bizarre, backward view is that carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring compound that has led to a greener, more prosperous Earth and that we exhale about two pounds of it per day and thus are ourselves huge polluters if this is the standard.

He has called for an “anti-defamation league” to protect CO2 and said in a CNBC interview in 2014 that “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 are the Jews.”

This was in response to a question from Andrew Ross Sorkin of CNBC’s Squawk Box: “You made a comment back in 2009 comparing climate change to the holocaust, and my question is are you suggesting when you made that comment that climatologists and climate scientists are the equivalent of Hitler and Nazis. That’s what it seems like you were trying to say.”

Happer’s views “have gotten no less extreme since then,” Vox reported. And the panel is “the latest indication that the Trump administration is trying to actively mislead the public on the well-established science of climate change.”

The new panel “would be created with an eye toward muddying the waters about the Pentagon and intelligence community’s findings” of eminent climate doom, it said.

Huffington Post kept the focus on Happer’s comparisons to Nazis and others. “In a 2017 interview with ProPublica [a liberal-funded “investigative journalism” outfit], he said the word ‘denier,’ which is applied to people such as himself who reject the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, was ‘carefully chosen to make me look like a Nazi sympathizer.’”

It later noted Happer, in an interview with The Best Schools, “managed to name-check the Salem witch trials, the French revolution, the Soviet purge and the Nazis in defense of those such as himself. And, in 2009, he called climate science a ‘cult’ and said that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Then he dropped another Nazi comparison to those who believe in the science of climate change.”

The New York Times said Happer’s “views are sharply at odds with the established scientific consensus that carbon dioxide pollution is dangerous to the planet.”

It also points to the White House statement that yes, there are multiple reports out there that say climate change is a threat to national security, but those reports “have not undergone a rigorous independent and adversarial peer review to examine the certainties and uncertainties of climate science, as well as implications for national security.”

None of the stories state why Happer’s views on CO2 are not correct.

Photo by Gage Skidmore




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