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William Happer on CNBC

Things have improved a little bit in the attitude of the media to the climate debate.

Click here if you don't see a proper video above.

This is what Princeton physicist Prof Will Happer was allowed to point out on TV – and it wasn't even Fox News! ;-)

400 ppm of CO2 is nothing special, 1,000 ppm of CO2 would be beneficial for the productivity of agriculture – which has already gone up a little bit, thanks to the slightly increased CO2 levels. The Earth has seen concentrations as high as 4,000 ppm or higher. It wasn't during the era of humans – but the era of humans is a tiny fraction of the Earth's history and when CO2 was around 4,000 ppm, our primate ancestors – whose physiology and climatic preferences don't really differ from ours – were already alive.

Moreover, he was allowed to clarify that if the questions were neutrally enough asked, about a half of the scientists would be on his side.

Burn, baby, burn.

Via Bishop Hill.

Less optimistically, the media are full of the claims by "citizen scientists" around John Cook who claim that 97% of the relevant papers support the "global warming consensus". It's bizarre. I participated in the survey and in my random sample, there were 50% of papers that supported the consensus only.

Moreover, Cook promised me to send me the results but I was never sent them. For too many reasons, I just don't believe that Cook et al. possess elementary human honesty.

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snail feedback (14) :

reader Mephisto said...

"1,000 ppm of CO2 would be beneficial for the productivity of agriculture"
how can he be so sure? Has he some crystal ball? What if 1000ppm would heat the surface through greenhouse effect and after that change global weather patterns (local changes in precipitation patterns, wind patterns, desertification etc).
I do not know what would happen and I am largely neutral on climate change debates. I am just questioning his certainty. As a physicist, he probably doesnt know much about climate or ecology anyway

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Mephisto,

Will Happer is a physicist. It means that he has a working knowledge of the entire Universe and everything it contains. Working knowledge of the important things in the Universe, I mean. ;-)

More importantly, he doesn't need that knowledge here because what you're asking here is easily solved with elementary basic-school biology and physics, anyway. Physics and biology are being used by intelligent people instead of the crystal balls that people like you seem to prefer.

The greenhouse effect only shifts the temperature uniformly over the globe, perhaps with some dependence on the latitude and land/ocean, but doesn't make any short-distance changes simply because the CO2 concentration is nearly uniform or becomes uniform quickly.

At any rate, the shift of the temperature due to an extra 120 ppm has been less than 1 deg C almost everywhere. This makes of order 1% or less impact on the growth rate of plants. On the other hand, the CO2 increase has been about 30% which makes about 15% impact on the growth rate of plants. So regardless of the detailed numerical constants, it is absolutely obvious that the direct impact of CO2 on plants as a plant food is more than one order of magnitude more important than any - hypothetical - indirect impact through the effect of CO2 on the temperature.


reader Gene Day said...

You’ve got to be kidding.
Here in Northern California we are getting ever increasing amounts of fruits and vegetables from Canada because they are better and cheaper than our local ones and even those coming up from Mexico, which is a big supplier.

Canada is very cold compared to Mexico and labor in Canada is many times more costly than in Mexico. Canada competes effectively precisely because of greenhouse agriculture, which allows more than 1000 PPM of CO2 to be maintained.
You can argue that greenhouses help keep the crops warm, which is true, but without the huge benefit of CO2, those costly greenhouses would not be affordable.

It is pure idiocy to deny the agricultural benefits of CO2. Satellite studies also show that the whole earth is greening and this is, without doubt, due to the increase in CO2.
And I challenge you to provide the slightest evidence of harmful weather changes due to earth’s increased CO2.

reader anna v said...

You must not be aware that real green houses , the ones that grow tomatoes and strawberries buy bottles of CO2 to raise it in the green house up to 1000ppm, for productivity reasons. CO2 is plant food. "Rates of carbon dioxide supplementation are dependent
on the crop response and economics. Flower and vegetable growers may take
somewhat different approaches. In general, carbon dioxide supplementation
of 1,000 ppm during the day when vents are closed is recommended."

reader George Christodoulides said...

nice explanation.

reader Robert Rehbock said...

Your remark reminds me of a decision in a real legal case I am familiar with. The court allowed the physicist to testify about why physics applied to accident shards as a hand went through a pane of glass allowed him to say what relative motions they had at moment of impact but denied him to testify as to why the pattern of blood spray also established this. Apparently the court was not convinced that a physicist could know the behavior of blood spraying from an artery.
Fortunately the court did not require the physician to qualify his expertise in gardening before accepting the same evidence from a physician who said that the spray would behave like coming from a garden hose sprayer.

reader Luke Lea said...

Having listened to the video I was most impressed by the way the IQ of the tv commentators seems to be going down. Or maybe they were just not professionals.

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reader Eugene S said...

Hi Luke, it's not the job of TV interviewers to ask the "smartest" question, they ask questions that would be posed by the "man on the street" if he were in the studio. They did a good job of that.

By the way, CNBC is cable NBC, not the NBC broadcast over the airwaves for free. CNBC has always been business-oriented.

reader Manley Kjonaas said...

My understanding that the center of the earth is a molten mass of very hot material, including a variety of radioactive elements that produce that temperature. The release of radon is a product of that fission. Do Climate Warmers consider that as a factor of Earth's temperature?

reader Albertcomma Bruce said...

Dear Lubos,

I got awarded a post in Prague a few weeks ago, not in physics, but if ever you are there, maybe make contact.


PS Hope you are well.

reader Albertcomma Bruce said...

Oh, and Mephisto's question, I would recommend
Nobel, P. 1999. Physiochemical and Environmental Plant Physiology. Academic Press, New York as a reference on CO2 concentration as limiting factor...this also goes into the different photosynthetic pathways (C3, C4, CAM) in some detail.

reader Gordon Wilson said...

I caught one interviewer saying that Happer was not a "climate expert" because he was a physicist. Well, IMO, most "climate experts" have mediocre intellects, and naive modelling skills. Most theoretical physicists, particularly those on the Princeton faculty, would not have mediocre intellects. This bogus argument from "authority" by alarmists is annoying. There is no value arguing from authority when the authority is either tainted or a phony or self-deluded expert.

reader Mike H said...

"how can he be so sure?".

Given the real world scenarios of people being exposed to levels of 1000 ppm or more with zero harmful effects. Given the earth in the past has thrived under much higher levels than today's, (in both colder and warmer temperatures), I would say the degree of confidence of the world will be just fine, if not better off with CO2 levels at 1000 ppm is FAR higher than the scenario of Lady Liberty will be knee deep in ocean and nobody will understand where the name Snow White came from in a 100 years. That same question really needs to be asked to the people who produced models which are consistently wrong and want to take your money/liberty to save the earth from going to hell in a hand basket.