William Happer achtergrond hockeystick

Dit is het vijfde deel van mijn ‘posting’ over het interview met William Happer op de website ‘TheBestSchools’, waarin Happer zijn opvatting over de klimaat’problematiek’ ontvouwt. De eerste vier delen zijn hier, hier, hier en hier te vinden.

Happer’s visie komt dicht bij wat als consensus onder de klimaatsceptici kan worden beschouwd. Inmiddels is hij bij Donald Trump in diens ‘Tower’ op bezoek geweest.

Het is derhalve aannemelijk dat zijn klimaatvisie als inspiratiebron, zo niet leidraad voor het klimaat- cum energiebeleid door de nieuwe Amerikaanse regering zal worden overgenomen. Reden te meer om er uitvoerig aandacht aan te schenken.

Na de behandeling van het verzekeringsargument informeert de interviewer naar Happer’s opvatting over de beruchte hockeystickgrafiek.

William Happer

The hockey-stick temperature record was conspicuously absent from the latest IPCC report, which speaks volumes. My guess is that the hockey stick started out as an honest but mistaken paper, but one welcomed by the global-warming establishment. They had been embarrassed for years by the Medieval Warm Period, when Vikings farmed Greenland, and when emissions from fossil fuels were negligible. A.W. Montford’s book, The Hockey Stick Illusion (Anglosphere Books, 2015), is a pretty good summary of what happened (see this review).

As you can learn from the book, much of the Hockey Stick was based on growth rings from a judiciously chosen collection of trees. If you use other temperature proxies, for example 18O to 16O isotope ratios in carbonates, like the stalagmites of caves, borehole temperatures, lake-bottom pollen, alkenones, etc., you see a clear Medieval Warm Period, in agreement with historical data. A temperature record from more reliable proxies that do not include tree rings is shown in the figure below, taken from C. Loehle and J.H. McCulloch, “Correction to: A 2000-year temperature construction based on non-treering proxies,” Energy & Environment, 2008, 19: 93–100):

Non-Tree-Ring Proxies

Loehle grafiek

A 2000-year record of temperature using non-tree-ring proxies. [Source: Energy & Environment]

NOAA’s recent attempt to eliminate the hiatus is an example of the same kind of thinking that went into the hockey stick. If a politically correct theory does not agree with observations, revise the observations.

Vervolgens informeert de interviewer naar Happer’s opvattingen over de invloed van andere factoren dan CO2 op de opwarming die sinds 1850 heeft plaatsgevonden.

William Happer

Yes, there has been a rapid increase of CO2 in the past century, and it has already made a contribution to increased agricultural production. And yes, there has been warming, about 1° C, but with half the warming occurring before there was much increase in CO2. The erratic nature of the warming over the past century suggests that half or more of the warming is not due to more CO2, but has been caused by other natural phenomena, which have caused warming or cooling over all of geological history.

En dan volgt een uitleg van de Milankovic hypothese, die een verklaring biedt voor de ijstijdencyclus van zo’n tienduizend jaar. Maar daarnaast dient men ook rekening te houden met kortere perioden van temperatuurverandering als gevolg van fluctuaties in zonneactiviteit.


The medieval warm period, the little ice age, and the current warm period are too short to ascribe to orbital changes, but they do suggest some sort of solar influence.

A sketch of the Maunder minimum of sun spots that you mention is shown below.

Maunder Minimum sunspot-activity

Sunspot frequencies, observed since the year 1600. Almost no sunspots were observed from about 1650 to 1700, a fact first pointed out by the British astronomer Edward Walter Maunder. [Source: Wikimedia]

There are few observations of sun spots before 1600, but it turns out that sunspot frequency is strongly correlated with the cosmic ray intensity at the earth, which in turn, is strongly correlated with the production of the radioactive isotope 14C, the relative abundance of which can be measured with great precision in tree rings. …

Gevraagd naar wat naar zijn oordeel de belangrijkste oorzaken zijn van de opwarming sinds 1850 antwoordt William Happer:

As I have discussed in detail above, I don’t question that the earth has warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age, but I am persuaded that most of the warming was due to natural causes, about which the governments can do nothing. We are already seeing more vegetation on the earth and it is absorbing more CO2.

But as I will discuss in response to your next question, I believe that more CO2 is good for the world, that the world has been in a CO2 famine for many tens of millions of years and that one or two thousand ppm would be ideal for the biosphere. I am baffled at hysterical attempts to drive CO2 levels below 350 ppm, or some other value, apparently chosen by Kabbalah numerology, not science.

Vervolgens gaat Happer in een uiterst technisch verhaal uitvoerig in op de voordelen van een verhoogde CO2 concentratie in de atmosfeer voor de plantengroei, waardoor de wereld de laatste decennia groener is geworden.


The following figure by R.J. Donohue, et al., of the Australian Climate Laboratory (“Impact of CO2 fertilization on maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments,” Geophysical Research Letters, 2013, 40: 3031–3035), shows the change in surface vegetation of the Earth from 1982 to 2010 as plants have responded to the modest increase of CO2 from about 340 ppm to 400 ppm during the satellite era.


Greening of the earth between 1982 and 2010 from the increase in CO2. [Source: Geophysical Research Letters]

Most of the areas showed a net greening, giving an overall increase of 11 percent.

Gevraagd naar zijn opvatting over de zogenaamde ‘consensus’ antwoordt Happer:

Consensus supporters don’t like to admit it, but the situation is getting perilously close to Lysenkoism. Lysenko was a poorly educated agricultural extension agent from Ukraine who gained complete control over biology in the USSR, with the full backing of the Politburo and the personal support of both Stalin and Khrushchev.

As for consensus in science, no one could be more eloquent than Michael Crichton in his lecture, “Aliens Cause Global Warming“ (PDF), at the California Institute of Technology in 2003:

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called “consensus science.” I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Vervolgens legt de interviewer de volgende vier vragen aan Happer voor:

• Is concerted governmental action at the global level desirable?

• If so, what principle of equity should determine that action?

• When the stakes are very high and a broad scientific consensus is in place, should critics of the mainstream view nevertheless be entitled to express their views freely?

• Is political advocacy by scientists a good thing in the first place?

William Happer

Is concerted governmental action at the global level desirable? No. More CO2 will be good for the world, not bad. Concerted government action may take place anyway, as has so often happened in the sad history of human folly. …

If so, what principle of equity should determine that action? No action should be taken on CO2. But I enthusiastically support action on real pollution of air, land, or water, by fly ash, oxides of sulfur, and nitrogen from careless coal combustion, or water pollution by careless use of fertilizers and pesticides, or plastic debris in the oceans from human slovenliness. I regard the war on the responsible use of coal and other fossil fuels as deeply immoral. It will impoverish most people by raising the cost of energy. It will enrich crony capitalists who have government backing to force people to buy their inefficient, costly, unreliable windmills and solar farms.

When the stakes are very high and a broad scientific consensus is in place, should critics of the mainstream view nevertheless be entitled to express their views freely? Yes! This is the no-brainer answer for a free society, which I and many others will fight for, as our forefathers did.

Is political advocacy by scientists a good thing in the first place? Yes! Scientists should be free to advocate on any side of a controversial issue.

Vervolgens stelt de interviewer de vrijheid van meningsuiting aan de orde:

Next is the issue of freedom of speech. You of all people do not need us to tell you that the public conversation on global warming has taken on a decidedly nasty tone. Overt bullying and intimidation are now the order of the day. Most recently, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) called for the RICO Act against racketeering to be used to prosecute critics of the IPCC consensus!

One of the frequent charges (one you are not unfamiliar with personally) is that consensus critics are in the pay of the oil and gas industry. Such critics — nearly all of whom work for government in one form or another — do not often stop to consider that they, too, serve someone’s economic interests (as do we all in a society founded upon the free exchange of goods and services).

Given this “parity” of interests between consensus critics and supporters, what do you make of the situation? Isn’t the freedom to think what we like and say what we think at the very heart of the scientific endeavor? If so, then how did we get ourselves into this fix?

William Happer:

It is not possible to make progress in science without controversy. For example, there was heated scientific debate over Alfred Wegener’s theory of continental drift for decades. …

What is different about the global warming controversy is the direct involvement of governments on one side. As you mention, congressional demands that racketeering charges be brought against climate skeptics are unprecedented in the USA, although this does have an ominous precedent in the Lysenkoism that we mentioned above.

Bernie Sanders says he will “bring climate deniers to justice” when he becomes President of the USA. What should people like me expect from President Sanders — a concentration camp? The firing squad?

And what ever happened to the First Amendment to the US Constitution? …

During Stalin’s Great Terror, the equivalents of evil fossil fuel interests were Leon Trotsky and his followers. They were a direct threat to Stalin’s control of the world-wide Communist movement, just as climate skeptics are regarded as an existential threat to the global warming establishment.

I would be surprised if the net total funding of climate skeptics exceeded $2 or $3 million dollars a year, and even that may be high. In the last few years, US government spending for climate research (PDF) has been about $20 billion dollars a year — more than a thousand times greater than skeptic funding. But even this huge financial advantage is not sufficient to support the pathetically weak scientific case that the world is in danger from more CO2.

De interviewer informeert vervolgens of wetenschappers zich volgens Happer zo intensief met de politieke discussie mogen bezig houden als nu gebeurt bij het klimaat.

William Happer

I think that great damage has been done to the reputation of all of science by the global-warming frenzy of the past few decades. Twenty years ago, supposedly expert scientists solemnly declared that our children and grandchildren would not know what snow is. A few weeks ago, Washington, DC, struggled to dig out of three feet of snow, a record in many locales.

In accepting his 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (also won by Yassir Arafat), Al Gore said the summer Arctic could be ice-free by 2013 due to CO2 emissions. I invite readers to have a look at the data site I mentioned earlier. A few minutes of inspection of the “sea ice” link will show that there has been no significant change in sea ice since 2007. With all due respect to Nobel Laureate Gore, there was plenty of summer ice in 2013.

I hope that when the global-warming scandal is finally behind us, science will be forgiven for letting it fester so long. It took decades for Soviet biology to recover from the damage done by Lysenkoism.

Vervolgens vraagt de interviewer wat Happer de vijf belangrijkste argumenten vindt tegen de ‘consensus’ opvatting.

William Happer

• Climate models have predicted far more warming than has been observed …

• The consensus has largely ignored the huge positive effects of more CO2 …

• The large temperature changes of the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age occurred before the widespread use of fossil fuels after the industrial revolution …

• There is a strong correlation of temperature with solar activity ….

• Frenzied, ad hominem attacks on credible opponents show that consensus supporters have a very weak scientific case. You don’t need potentially counterproductive ad hominem attacks if you have strong scientific arguments.

Aldus William Happer.

Zie verder hier.

Zoals eerder opgemerkt is William Happer onlangs bij ‘president-elect’ Donald Trump op bezoek geweest. Ik neem aan dat daarbij de hoofdlijnen van bovenstaand interview de revue zijn gepasseerd. Ik neem eveneens aan dat deze boodschap er bij Trump inging als Gods woord in een ouderling.

Vele jaren geleden ben ik zelf ook met een gelijkluidende boodschap bij vooraanstaande Nederlandse politici op bezoek geweest. Helaas heb ik moeten constateren dat deze bezoeken geen enkel merkbaar effect hebben gehad. Een kongsi van ideologisch klimaat/milieubevlogenen, politici die een groen voetje willen halen bij de milieubeweging, klimaatactivistische wetenschappers, financiële belangen bij duurzame energie en ten slotte de policor media, heeft een beslissende invloed gehad op de totstandkoming van een jaarlijks vele miljarden verslindend klimaatbeleid, dat geen enkel aantoonbaar effect op de wereldtemperatuur zal hebben, en waarbij de niet geraadpleegde burger het gelach zal moeten betalen.

In schril contrast daarmee lijkt het mij waarschijnlijk dat het klimaatbeleid in de VS op korte termijn een U-bocht zal maken. De vraag is hoe lang het zal duren voordat Europa, inclusief Nederland, het Amerikaanse voorbeeld zal volgen. Ik vrees dat dat nog lang kan duren. Het gaat hier immers om een pseudo-religie, waarbij rationele argumenten afglijden als water van het verenpak van een eend. Maar het lijkt mij aannemelijk dat de beeldenstorm ook hier uiteindelijk niet zal uitblijven.

17els003z001Misschien is dit het begin? (‘Waarom intellectuelen zo graag wereldrampen voorspellen’)

Voor mijn eerdere bijdragen over klimaat en aanverwante zaken zie hierhier, hier, hier en hier.