Happer, Pruitt and Those Zombie Climate Change Theories
Climate change is not caused by man. It’s official.
Leading physicist William Happer at Princetown University says so.
You should take notice because he is definitely in the running to become one of Trump’s science advisors. No matter that Happer has never once contributed to climate change research (apart from denouncing it) and has never had a paper published in a scientific journal on the subject.
Why should that matter? Accept that he may have the ear of the President.
According to his Princetown colleague Professor Micheal Oppenheimer (who does have many articles on climate change to his name), Happer “appears to have become unmoored”. Happer has called the climate change agenda a cult and has even thrown in a Nazi reference for good measure.
But that’s not all.
The successful nomination of Scott Pruitt to the Environmental Protection Agency is also another worry. Pruitt has his feet firmly in the fossil fuel camp and has been one of the EPAs most vociferous critics.
He’s sued them no less than 14 times.
He may not think that climate change is a hoax but neither does he truly believe that it’s man made. He told the nomination committee:
“Science tells us the climate is changing and human activity in some matter impacts that change. The ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue.”
There could be some turbulent times ahead for climate change scientists who diverge from this new world view of the Trump administration. Some have suggested McCarthy style witch hunts that could even drive researchers underground or at least get them to change their views in public.
So, what are the arguments that climate change deniers are still continuing to postulate? Some have called these zombie theories because the appear to turn up again and again. They are often delivered straight to our door by the media, or as Trump calls them ‘fake news’, via right wing think tanks.
The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) monitored the Wall Street Journal, which has been more climate sceptic than most, and found that of 48 articles only nine actually reflected the true state of current science in this area. Another sceptic outlet is Fox News which produced 37 out of 40 misleading segments over a year.
One sceptic stance is that climate change has happened before in the distant past and life on earth managed to survive. Climate change wasn’t caused by humans then and it isn’t now. What climate change sceptics fail to point out is that the sea level rose considerably at during this period – and if it happens this time it will cause major catastrophes for millions of people around the globe.
We seem to have stepped into a world of alternative facts, certainly. If the leader of a powerful country such as the US is only listening to the contrarian point of view, then there’s a problem. Particularly when most of the evidence points in the opposite direction. It’s easy to believe that Trump also has his feet firmly planted in the fossil fuel camp. The truth is he probably doesn’t feel that strongly about climate change one way or the other.
There’s no doubt that most of the scepticism has been fuelled by the right. A think tank called the Institute of Public Affairs has helped to spread the climate sceptic agenda and has been able to influence the media into reporting their ‘talking points’. The fact that these are being listened to is probably more worrying than Happer’s slightly unhinged view of the world.
One thing is certain: The climate change fight is not won.
We’re far from that point and may even be moving backwards. This isn’t just a US problem either. There are plenty of sceptics around the world who want their voices heard and we could soon find ourselves in a world where scientists who openly support the evidence of climate change are ridiculed in public and ostracised for their views.
That means the fight now needs to go up a notch – we need to shout louder than ever before.