STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Climate change

Donald Trump

Energy and environment

Energy and utilities

Environment and natural resources

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Political Figures - US

Science

Technology

US federal government

White House

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."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 15752

Reported Deaths: 739
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds100625
Lauderdale73862
Madison72423
Scott65012
Neshoba64639
Jones62928
Forrest56438
DeSoto5427
Rankin4398
Holmes42928
Leake42712
Copiah3124
Jackson30813
Attala29817
Yazoo2814
Newton2714
Leflore26431
Lincoln26329
Harrison2587
Monroe25725
Oktibbeha23912
Lamar2385
Lowndes2119
Pearl River20931
Wayne2041
Pike20311
Adams19915
Noxubee1866
Washington1787
Warren17310
Covington1652
Jasper1634
Bolivar16211
Lee1536
Smith15211
Kemper14411
Clarke14418
Lafayette1364
Chickasaw13512
Coahoma1254
Carroll11711
Winston1171
Marion1159
Clay1124
Claiborne1112
Lawrence1021
Simpson1010
Tate941
Grenada943
Yalobusha935
Hancock9111
Wilkinson889
Itawamba877
Montgomery851
Sunflower843
Union835
Marshall833
Jefferson Davis773
Tippah7311
Panola713
Webster692
Calhoun654
Amite641
Humphreys607
Walthall560
Tunica553
Prentiss533
Perry503
Choctaw432
Jefferson421
Pontotoc353
Quitman330
Tishomingo320
Stone300
Franklin292
Tallahatchie271
George251
Alcorn171
Benton150
Greene131
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 18150

Reported Deaths: 644
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2239116
Jefferson1837102
Montgomery171040
Tuscaloosa78315
Marshall6939
Franklin5567
Lee54833
Shelby51720
Tallapoosa42765
Butler41118
Chambers35525
Walker3542
Elmore3548
Madison3394
Baldwin2909
Morgan2801
Dallas2723
Etowah25711
DeKalb2483
Lowndes24612
Coffee2361
Sumter2247
Autauga2214
Houston2204
Bullock2095
Pike2030
Colbert1842
Hale1739
Russell1710
Marengo1706
Barbour1671
Lauderdale1642
Calhoun1603
Choctaw1538
Wilcox1487
Clarke1442
Cullman1430
Randolph1277
St. Clair1231
Marion12211
Pickens1164
Dale1150
Talladega1135
Limestone1060
Chilton1011
Greene944
Winston900
Macon824
Henry802
Covington801
Jackson782
Crenshaw753
Bibb751
Washington706
Escambia633
Blount621
Lawrence500
Geneva430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Monroe402
Perry390
Cherokee373
Clay272
Lamar260
Fayette160
Cleburne151
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 84°
Columbus
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 82°
Oxford
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 73°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather