A few months ago, I gave a talk at Utah Valley University entitled, “How to Avoid the Truth About Climate Change” (click here for video). In the talk, I introduced the concept of “truth-challenged individuals”–people who are better than the rest of us at ignoring evidence that contradicts what we want to believe–and gave a few examples. Well, it’s time to add another such individual to the list–Prof. Will Happer, a physicist at Princeton.
In 2010, Prof. Happer testified before a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, “Over the past ten years there has been no statistically [significant] global warming. This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC computer models.” The problem was that the IPCC models DO predict there will be whole decades of less rapid warming or even some cooling as the temperature gradually rises. But since the weather is “chaotic” in the short term, exactly WHEN these short-term dips in the temperature trend will occur is hard to predict, so different models (or even the same models run with slightly different starting conditions) will project the dips at different times. This FACT is clearly evident in the following graph, taken from Fig. 10.5 of the IPCC AR4 Working Group 1 Report. It shows climate model temperature projections for the A2 emissions scenario, with the individual lines representing individual models or averaged groups of models. Just look at some of the more squiggly lines, which represent individual models. They go up for several years, then they go down for several years, but in the long term the trend is up.
Oh, I’m certainly not the first one to point this out about Happer’s false testimony. Ben Santer and his colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Geophysical Research last year, in which they showed, “Claims that minimal warming over a single decade undermine findings of a slowly-evolving externally-forced warming signal [e.g., as in Investor’s Business Daily, 2008; Happer, 2010] are simply incorrect.” (Click here for a free pre-publication version of Santer’s paper.)
Well, now Happer has made the same claim again in the Wall Street Journal.
If anyone can point out where Prof. Happer has dealt with Santer’s refutation of his (obviously) false testimony, please do so in the comments. To me, it looks like he’s simply ignoring it.
[UPDATE: In 2011, Happer apparently wrote an article making similar claims in First Things. Climate scientist Mike McCracken did a point-by-point rebuttal here.]