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Climate science denier says he resigned from White House post because officials are 'brainwashed'

William Happer
William Happer

William Happer, the 80-year-old physicist who recently resigned from his post as National Security Council senior director, is in Madrid trolling the U.N.’s COP25 climate conference for the Heartland Institute, one the nation’s leading climate disinformation operations. It’s his usual shtick.

He left the NSC post in September after his plan to run a "hostile review" of claims of climate scientists was shot down at the White House because some feared it might cost votes. Happer told Scott Waldman at Energywire Tuesday that the hang-up came from officials who have been “brainwashed” into accepting scientists’ consensus on climate. Happer calls the crisis a "completely imaginary threat that doesn't exist. People are afraid to stand up and say that.” Waldman reported:

He confirmed that the administration tried to draw attention away from the National Climate Assessment, a major report released every four years, by making it public late in the day on Black Friday in 2018. Happer said there were discussions about altering the report or withholding it altogether, but that officials decided it was politically risky to do so.

"There's also the problem they've all been brainwashed, so many people in the Trump administration felt 'maybe it's right, how do I know, I'm just a lawyer,' most of them are lawyers," Happer said. "What finally happened was they diddled with it, they couldn't decide what to do, and so they decided 'we'll just not do anything to it, we'll release it at some time when the news media won't notice it, they'll be distracted by something else,' so they released it on Black Friday."

Happer, who has no professional training in climate science, has returned to Princeton as professor emeritus, and he’s rejoined the CO2 Coalition, where he was previously director. Funded by the right-wing Mercer Family Foundation, the coalition’s motto is, “Carbon dioxide, a nutrient vital for life.”

If you’re shocked to learn that any officials in the White House can be labeled “brainwashed” for rejecting claims that the climate crisis is a hoax, you’re not alone. Of course, Happer thinks this about a lot of people: “I feel bad about the younger generation. They have been brainwashed.”

Pretty bold claim for a guy who ran a propaganda organization designed specifically to brainwash people into believing that climate scientists are just in it for the government grants and that carbon dioxide emissions are harmless. 

In 2014, Happer went even further off the rails in an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box: “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 were the Jews.” He later apologized for this, but only after he had made the comparison several times.

More than a decade ago, as reported by the Daily Princetonian, Happer said, “Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Every time you exhale, you exhale air that has 4 percent carbon dioxide. To say that that’s a pollutant just boggles my mind. What used to be science has turned into a cult. [...] All the evidence I see is that the current warming of the climate is just like past warmings. In fact, it’s not as much as past warmings yet, and it probably has little to do with carbon dioxide, just like past warmings had little to do with carbon dioxide.” Last Wednesday, Happer added another claim, saying methane emissions are “irrelevant” to climate change.

The only surprising thing about Happer’s claims in Madrid is that he isn’t speaking as chief U.S. delegate to COP25. If he hadn’t resigned out of pique, he might well have been. 

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