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Trump to name climate change skeptic as adviser on emerging technologies

William Happer, a Princeton atomic physicist and prominent skeptic questioning whether humans are causing ra...

Posted: Sep 4, 2018 11:41 PM
Updated: Sep 4, 2018 11:41 PM

William Happer, a Princeton atomic physicist and prominent skeptic questioning whether humans are causing rapid climate change, is joining the National Security Council as senior director for emerging technologies, according to NSC officials.

Happer, 79, is an emeritus professor of physics at Princeton who served in the Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s. He did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.

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His public stance on climate change is in opposition to near universally accepted science.

He told CNN in April 2017 that carbon dioxide is not the toxic "pollutant" it's made out to be and "the temperature is not rising nearly as fast as the alarmist computer models predicted." He compared the Paris climate agreement, signed in 2015 by the US under President Barack Obama and 194 nations, to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s and said it was "silly" and "should be canceled."

President Donald Trump announced in 2017 that the US was withdrawing from the agreement, which aims to address and attempt to mitigate the consequences of greenhouse-gas emissions.

Happer, who is not a climate expert, specialized in atomic physics and the study of optics at Princeton. His research helped pioneer "adaptive optics," technology that helps eliminate distortion and fuzziness when using telescopes, microscopes or other imaging systems, breakthroughs that drew interest for their military applications.

Happer has said he is not a "climate denier." He told Foreign Policy magazine in May 2017 that "climate has been with us forever" and it's ridiculous to "deny" it.

However, he said he would advocate for a rigorous public review of the science of climate change and its causes were he to return to public service.

"If it's this important, why haven't we had a public review of it," he questioned. "We have that all the time in defense programs ... if you're going to put in a new fighter jet, you have a red team that tries to find something wrong with it," he told Foreign Policy.

Happer was part of discussions on participating in an administration exercise to debate climate change. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in October 2017 that he was working on a "red team-blue team" approach where competing teams of scientists would hold a public debate on climate science research. Happer was courted to be part of the red team, according to emails obtained by CNN from the Sierra Club, which filed a lawsuit resulting in the release of the emails. The plan was abandoned before Pruitt resigned in July.

'I'm a scientist'

Happer, who met with Trump during the presidential transition, told The Scientist magazine he had spoken to the President about the importance of having scientists working in the White House so he could listen to their advice.

Happer also said they agreed that climate change science has become like a "cult movement," and that they had bonded over the President's uncle, John Trump, a former physicist, as well as over a shared interest in making the US more competitive in science and technology.

When it was rumored in 2017 that he would be appointed to a role in the White House, Happer was asked how he would respond to resistance over his appointment from Democrats and fellow scientists. He said he would do his best to provide the best technical advice.

"I'm a scientist; I know a lot about some areas, and I know how to find out about others. I know how to reach out to people who really do know," he told The Scientist. "And I think I could provide the best possible advice, technically related and scientifically related advice, for the administration for policy decisions that really need to get the science and technology right."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 312969

Reported Deaths: 3637
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin661641115
Ramsey27766505
Anoka22149228
Dakota22015190
Washington13999115
Stearns13733116
St. Louis8747112
Scott846255
Wright775843
Olmsted665634
Sherburne587641
Clay498457
Carver474213
Blue Earth414116
Rice412836
Kandiyohi408122
Crow Wing359634
Otter Tail314322
Chisago311611
Nobles308730
Benton299451
Winona276930
Mower261623
Douglas260337
Polk256324
Morrison231629
Lyon218711
Beltrami217117
McLeod212812
Becker205415
Goodhue203228
Steele19497
Isanti190617
Itasca190423
Carlton185816
Todd181214
Nicollet162525
Mille Lacs153631
Freeborn15336
Le Sueur147011
Cass143710
Brown141315
Waseca139211
Pine13658
Meeker12879
Roseau11964
Hubbard114925
Martin113320
Wabasha10561
Redwood94619
Chippewa8877
Cottonwood8664
Renville86527
Dodge8600
Watonwan8544
Wadena8016
Sibley7934
Rock7779
Aitkin76730
Pipestone72518
Fillmore6990
Houston6984
Yellow Medicine64812
Pennington6478
Kanabec61913
Murray5873
Swift5838
Faribault5612
Pope5391
Clearwater5248
Stevens5103
Marshall4979
Unassigned49359
Jackson4881
Lake4226
Koochiching3926
Wilkin3895
Lac qui Parle3773
Lincoln3591
Norman3497
Big Stone3182
Mahnomen2964
Grant2796
Kittson2248
Red Lake2133
Traverse1481
Lake of the Woods1001
Cook720

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 227398

Reported Deaths: 2368
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk33642336
Linn14352165
Scott1124986
Black Hawk10893135
Woodbury10372126
Johnson955336
Dubuque923291
Story678822
Dallas637257
Pottawattamie631970
Sioux370325
Webster358535
Cerro Gordo357144
Marshall348546
Clinton331344
Buena Vista305414
Des Moines291520
Muscatine289268
Warren281914
Plymouth276042
Wapello255772
Jones232313
Jasper217944
Marion205320
Lee203917
Carroll198422
Bremer195212
Henry18307
Crawford174616
Benton170619
Tama154340
Jackson144613
Delaware144221
Washington141314
Dickinson139210
Boone137011
Mahaska126827
Wright12456
Clay11784
Buchanan117010
Hardin115810
Page11374
Hamilton11199
Clayton11175
Cedar108413
Harrison107729
Kossuth10667
Calhoun10617
Floyd105016
Mills10487
Fayette103910
Lyon10338
Butler10216
Poweshiek99313
Winneshiek97613
Iowa95812
Winnebago93023
Hancock8677
Grundy86311
Louisa86216
Sac8608
Chickasaw8574
Cherokee8484
Allamakee81811
Cass81623
Mitchell7984
Appanoose79312
Humboldt7715
Union7706
Shelby76511
Emmet76424
Guthrie75415
Franklin73921
Jefferson7142
Madison6864
Unassigned6690
Palo Alto6554
Keokuk5997
Howard5599
Pocahontas5584
Greene5250
Osceola5241
Ida48913
Clarke4874
Davis4709
Taylor4653
Montgomery46311
Monroe44412
Adair4418
Monona4352
Worth3630
Fremont3583
Van Buren3585
Lucas3256
Decatur3170
Wayne3007
Audubon2962
Ringgold2112
Adams1702
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