Lorne Gunter of the National Post disgraced himself yet again this weekend with another outrageously inaccurate column about something he apparently knows nothing about: climate science.
Gunter held forward William Happer as his climate skeptic champion to put those dullards at the IPCC to shame. He crows that Happer “is hardly a climate change ‘denier’ ”, and is instead “one of the world’s leading experts on the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases.”
A quick internet search reveals that Happer is not climate researcher at all. His recent publications relate to MRI imaging in the lungs of rats.
Perhaps more revealing is that Happer is also the Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute – a right wing thing tank that has received $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998. The usual list of Exxon-funded hacks have also been involved with this “Institute”, including Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Patrick J. Michaels.
Last week Happer told a congressional committee, “I believe the increase of CO2 (in the atmosphere) is not a cause for alarm.”
He went on to add: “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what are now”. A video of this testimony is available here.
Is this true? Of course not.
Here is a graph of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 for the last 450,000 years. Humans evolved as a species about 200,000 years ago.
The planet has been around for a long time and there is evidence that atmospheric CO2 hundreds of millions of years ago was higher that it is now. However, it is hardly a world that humans would want to live in.
Radically different atmospheric chemistry during the Carboniferous period allowed millipedes to grow up to ten feet long. How would you like to find one of these critters eating your cat food?
Happer also reassured Congress that the frightening scenario of positive feedbacks such as carbon and methane release from melting permafrost is nothing to worry about. “The feedback is close to zero and may even be negative.” Prof. Happer testified.
True? Absolutely not.
A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found many of the Earth’s ecosystems are already being pushed close to dangerous tipping points.
“Everywhere we looked, there was evidence that what was believed to be likely has happened. Nature has been cooperating with climate change theory unfortunately,” warned author Dr. Stephen Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University.
Other interesting insights about Happer are covered here in a telling post from one of his former colleagues at Princeton.
It is also illustrative to look at what media outlets parroted the Happer story last week – minus of course any of the quick fact checking that I just did above.
A Google news search shows that Happer’s grossly inaccurate testimony was covered by such luminary publications at the American Thinker, Capitalism Magazine, and the Right Side News – in a piece penned by non other than Marc Morano.
Morano of course is former staffer of Senator Inhofe, who has made a lucrative career out of denying climate science and taking hefty donations from the fossil fuel industry.
Could it be that Lorne Gunter and the National Post are on Marc Morano’s speed dial in his new gig as a “clearinghouse and one-stop shopping’ for climate and environmental news”?
The quality of Gunter’s research is so laughably bad that there has to some explanation.