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Physicist compares global warming craze to Aztec human sacrifices

By Dennis T. Avery
web posted March 2, 2009

A leading "climate skeptic" met with the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment on February 25th.  Dr. William Happer holds an endowed chair in physics at Princeton, served as the senior scientist at the Department of Energy—and was reportedly fired by then-Vice President Al Gore for disagreeing with Gore's belief in man-made global warming.

Happer noted that climate change has long worried humans.

"Sometimes the obsession for control of the climate got a bit out of hand, as in the Aztec [society] where the local scientific/religious establishment of the year 1500 had long since announced that the debate was over and at least 20,000 human sacrifices a year were needed to keep the sun moving, the rain falling; and thus stop climate change. The widespread dissatisfaction of the [neighboring tribes] who were unfortunate enough to be the source of these sacrifices played an important part in the success of the Spanish conquest of Mexico."

Professor Happer also pointed to Switzerland in June, 1644, when the Bishop of Geneva led a flock of believers to the face of a glacier that was advancing "by over a musket shot" every day, and threatening a village. The Bishop and his flock prayed over the glacier, "and it is said to have stopped."

"I predict that future historians will look back on this period much as we now view Prohibition. . . . Deeply sincere people thought they were saving humanity from the evils of alcohol, just as many people now sincerely think they are saving humanity from the evils of CO2. . . . Like the temperance movement 100 years ago, the climate-catastrophe movement has enlisted the mass media, the leadership of scientific societies, the trustees of foundations, and many other influential people to their cause. Even elementary school teachers and writers of children's books are enlisted to terrify our children and promote the idea of impending climate doom," Happer warned.

But Happer pointed out that "Institutions like organized crime got their start in that [Prohibition] era. Drastic limitations on CO2 are likely to damage our country in analogous ways." Happer told the Senators, "I believe that the increase of CO2 is not a cause for alarm and will be good for mankind," noting that more CO2 helps plants yield more food per acre

The former Energy Department official also took a shot at former Vice-president Gore. "Al Gore likes to display graphs of temperature and CO2 concentrations over the past million years or so, showing that when CO2 rises, the temperature also rises. Doesn't this prove that the temperature is drive by CO2?  Absolutely not!  If you look carefully at these records, you find that first the temperature goes up, and then the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere goes up. There is a delay between a temperature increase and a CO2 increase of about 800 years. This casts serious doubt on CO2 as a climate driver." 

Happer says his furnace comes on in the mornings, and his house gets warmer. But the igniting of the furnace precedes the house warming by about an hour. "The thing that changes first is the cause. In the case of the ice cores, the cause of increased CO2 is almost certainly the warming of the oceans." In other words, instead of more CO2 causing warming, a warming ocean releases some of its abundant CO2 back into the air.

"I personally don't believe we are facing a crisis, unless we create one for ourselves," said Happer—as the Aztecs created a crisis of revolution among their neighboring tribes. ESR

Dennis T. Avery is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.  He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years, Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to cgfi@hughes.net.

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