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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: 612701

Reported Deaths: 7761
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1270801803
Ramsey53350911
Dakota47466477
Anoka43482465
Washington27810296
Stearns22764227
St. Louis18353320
Scott17763139
Wright16615153
Olmsted13587104
Sherburne1218596
Carver1080349
Clay830792
Rice8300112
Blue Earth772844
Crow Wing691799
Kandiyohi673185
Chisago629955
Otter Tail592687
Benton588298
Goodhue487674
Douglas480881
Mower478834
Winona466452
Itasca463968
Isanti447567
McLeod436661
Morrison429562
Beltrami411863
Nobles411750
Steele401819
Polk391372
Becker390057
Lyon366454
Carlton357158
Freeborn353634
Pine338123
Nicollet335145
Mille Lacs316856
Brown309340
Le Sueur301228
Todd289633
Cass289133
Meeker267644
Waseca241823
Martin237633
Roseau212921
Wabasha20883
Hubbard198941
Dodge19173
Renville184246
Redwood178941
Houston176516
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165323
Fillmore160510
Faribault157820
Chippewa154438
Pennington154120
Kanabec148128
Sibley147710
Aitkin140237
Watonwan13629
Rock129919
Jackson123212
Pipestone117326
Yellow Medicine115620
Pope11416
Murray107710
Swift107718
Koochiching96919
Stevens92711
Clearwater89517
Marshall89017
Lake85121
Wilkin84613
Lac qui Parle76222
Big Stone6134
Grant5958
Lincoln5873
Mahnomen5669
Norman5519
Kittson49222
Unassigned49093
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3504
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 376815

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk59215646
Linn21567342
Scott20530250
Black Hawk16850320
Woodbury15378230
Johnson1479586
Dubuque13627215
Dallas1150699
Pottawattamie11393177
Story1092548
Warren594392
Clinton565894
Cerro Gordo564898
Webster546397
Sioux520574
Muscatine4956106
Marshall493679
Des Moines481776
Jasper454273
Wapello4402124
Buena Vista432340
Plymouth405782
Lee396958
Marion372378
Henry301737
Jones301357
Bremer294663
Carroll287252
Boone273735
Crawford273541
Benton264255
Washington261051
Dickinson251145
Mahaska235151
Jackson225943
Kossuth222166
Clay217927
Tama213872
Delaware213343
Winneshiek201337
Buchanan197834
Page195722
Cedar194323
Hardin192544
Wright191240
Hamilton189251
Fayette188943
Harrison182873
Clayton173258
Butler169135
Madison168019
Floyd165242
Mills164724
Cherokee162238
Lyon161241
Poweshiek159836
Allamakee156452
Hancock154034
Iowa149124
Winnebago147031
Calhoun144813
Cass142155
Grundy139733
Emmet137341
Jefferson135535
Sac133320
Shelby132238
Louisa130749
Union129535
Franklin129223
Appanoose128749
Mitchell127343
Chickasaw126017
Humboldt126026
Guthrie125332
Palo Alto115224
Montgomery106938
Howard105522
Clarke102624
Monroe101533
Keokuk100432
Ida93735
Adair90132
Davis88525
Pocahontas87022
Monona86731
Greene80011
Osceola79517
Lucas78323
Worth7648
Taylor67112
Decatur6649
Fremont64910
Van Buren57318
Ringgold57124
Wayne56623
Audubon53613
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