William Happer

William Happer

​William Happer


  • Ph.D, physics, Princeton (1964).
  • Bachelor's degree in physics from University of North Carolina (1960).

Source: [1]


William Happer is Eugene Higgens Professor of Physics and Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, Princeton University, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the George C. Marshall Institute and is on the Academic Advisory Council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). He is associated with a number of other think tanks including the CO2 Coalition (formed in May 2015), and others.

Stance on Climate Change

“I, and many other scientists, think the warming will be small compared the natural fluctuations in the earth’s temperature, and that the warming and increased CO2 will be good for mankind.” [2]

Key Quotes

“There have been similar and even larger warmings several times in the 10,000 years since the end of the last ice age. These earlier warmings clearly had nothing to do with the combustion of fossil fuels. The current warming also seems to be due mostly to natural causes, not to increasing levels of carbon dioxide. Over the past ten years there has been no global warming, and in fact a slight cooling.  This is not at all what was predicted by the IPCC models.” [3]

“I am convinced that the current alarm over carbon dioxide is mistaken … Fears about man-made global warming are unwarranted and are not based on good science.” [4]

“I am not a climatologist, but I don’t think any of the other witnesses are either. I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases – one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals.” [3]

“We know that carbon dioxide has been a much larger fraction of the earth's atmosphere than it is today, and the geological record shows that life flourished on land and in the oceans during those times. The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.” [5]
“Policies to slow CO2 emissions are really based on nonsense. We are being led down a false path. To call carbon dioxide a pollutant is really Orwellian. You are calling something a pollutant that we all produce. Where does that lead us eventually?” [28]
“If plants could vote, they would vote for coal.” [28]
“97% of scientists have often been wrong on many things.” [28]
“Coal, formed from ancient CO2, is a benefit to the world. Coal is CO2 from ancient atmospheres. We are simply returning CO2 to the atmosphere from which it came when you burn coal. And it’s a good thing since it is at very low levels in the atmosphere. We are in a CO2 famine. It is very, very low.” [28]
“Our breath is not that different from a power plant.” [28]

Key Deeds

December, 2015

In an undercover investigation by Greenpeace UK, William Happer agreed to write a report for a (fictional) Middle Eastern oil company on the benefits of CO2 while keeping the sources of the funding secret. In the investigation, Greenpeace reporters posed as representatives from fictional coal and oil companies and approached academics from Princeton and Penn State to ask for papers that would promote the benefits of CO2 while requesting that they conceal funding sources. [32]

Happer told the Greenpeace reporters that he would be willing to produce research promoting the benefits of carbon dioxide for $250 per hour, while the funding sources could be concealed by routing them through the CO2 Coalition, of which he is a board member. Happer also admitted that a similar method had been used to fund his testimony for a Minnesota state hearing on the impacts of carbon dioxide, for which Peabody Energy paid him $8,000 which was also routed through the CO2 Coalition. [32]

When reporters asked if the fossil fuel company's role in the paper could remain hidden, Happer replied:

If I write the paper alone, I don’t think there would be any problem stating that ‘the author received no financial compensation for this essay.’” [32]

To ensure that the commissioning of the report would not be traced back to the (fictional) oil company, Happer contacted fellow CO2 Coalition board member Bill O'Keefe, saying “I am trying get [sic] another mysterious client to donate funds to the CO2 Coalition instead of compensating me for my writing something for them.” [32]

O'Keefe's suggestion was to channel the funds through DonorsTrust, a group that his been called the “Dark Money ATM” of the US Conservative movement for its ability to conceal the original sources of funding. [32]

Greenpeace investigators then asked Peter Lipsett of DonorsTrust whether they would be willing to accept the funds from a foreign oil company. Lipsett responded, saying that while the funds would need to come from a U.S. bank account, “we can take it from a foreign body, it’s just we have to be extra cautious with that.”[32]

During the investigation, William Happer also outlined details of the unofficial peer review process run by the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a UK climate sceptic think tank. Happer said he could ask to put the oil-funded report through a similar review process, admitting that it would struggle to be published in a traditional academic journal.

When undercover reporters asked Happer if he could put the industry funded report through the same peer review process as previous GWPF reports they claimed to have been “thoroughly peer reviewed,” Happer explained that the process consisted of members of the Advisory Council and other selected scientists reviewing the work, rather than presenting it to an academic journal. [32]

Happer added: “I would be glad to ask for a similar review for the first drafts of anything I write for your client. Unless we decide to submit the piece to a regular journal, with all the complications of delay, possibly quixotic editors and reviewers that is the best we can do, and I think it would be fine to call it a peer review.”  [32]

Read the complete email chain including William Happer and DonorsTrust here. Happer responded to the Greenpeace article, saying that “I don’t think I have anything to be embarrassed about.” [33

When asked whether there should be full disclosure on industry influence over science, he said, “Yes, I believe in full disclosure.” But, he added, “I don’t think that full disclosure was the point of the Greenpeace article at all. The aim was simply to smear their enemies.” [33

December 8, 2015

Set to coincide with the Paris COP21 (Conference of the Parties), Will Happer will testified at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” [30] 
At the hearing, , asking whether Happer had received funding from Peabody Energy. 
A Greenpeace investigation (See details above) revealed that Happer had in fact received $8,000 from Peabody Energy to write about the benefits of Carbon Dioxide - working out to a rate of $250 per hour. When Greenpeace investigator Jesse Coleman asked Happer about his Peabody energy funding at the December 8 hearing, Happer tells, “you son of a b*tch, I haven’t taken a dime” (see video footage below)

During the rest of the hearing, Happer spent his time arguing that rising carbon dioxide levels are beneficial for the planet, claiming there is “not much dispute” that there is too little CO2 and too much oxygen for plants. He also suggested that climate change skeptics should be getting more funding: [31]
“I would like to argue very strongly that we set aside some fraction of funding for climate research that is designed to be for the other side,” Happer said. [31]
Happer provided two parts to his testimony, including a white paper prepared by the CO2 Coalition:
According to the event description, the hearing focused on “the ongoing debate over climate science, the impact of federal funding on the objectivity of climate research, and the ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science.” [30]
Other listed witnesses include:

November 19, 2015

William Happer spoke at a “climate summit” arranged by the Texas Public Policy Foundation shortly before the UN climate summit in Paris (COP21), along with other prominent skeptics including Richard Lindzen and Patrick Moore. [28]

Moore focused on the previously debunked theory that global warming would be beneficial to plant growth without any negative effects: [29]

CO2 will be beneficial and crop yields will increase,” Happer said.  “More CO2 will be a very significant benefit to agriculture.” [28]

June 11-12, 2015

William Happer was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C. [6]

View William Happer’s Dinner Keynote presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [7]

May 12, 2015

William Happer is a signatory to an open letter to Pope Francis on climate change. The letter invites the Pope to reconsider his views on climate change before his upcoming encyclical letter on the environment, which is widely expected to call for measures to prevent climate change in the interests of the world's poor. 

The open letter was coordinated and signed by Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance. According to the letter, “Good climate policy must recognize human exceptionalism, the God-given call for human persons to 'have dominion' in the natural world (Genesis 1:28), and the need to protect the poor from harm, including actions that hinder their ascent out of poverty.” [8]

The letter suggests that increasing wealth is the best way to protect the poor:
“The risks of poverty and misguided energy policies that would prolong it far outweigh the risks of climate change. Adequate wealth enables human persons to thrive in a wide array of climates, hot or cold, wet or dry. Poverty undermines human thriving even in the very best of climates. It follows that reducing fossil fuel use means reducing economic development, condemning poor societies to remain poor, and requiring poor people of today to sacrifice for the sake of richer people of the future—a clear injustice.”

Another excerpt below:

”[…] the [climate] models are wrong. They therefore provide no rational basis to forecast dangerous human-induced global warming, and therefore no rational basis for efforts to reduce warming by restricting the use of fossil fuels or any other means.”

Judith Curry comments on her blog Climate Etcthat “Arguably the most effective 'pushback' comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [9

March, 2015

William Happer is one of several climate change skeptics cc'd on an email from S. Fred Singer in hopes of countering the documentary film “Merchants of Doubt,” which exposes the network of climate change skeptics and deniers trying to delay legislative action on climate change.  

The October, 2014 email was leaked to journalists before the documentary was released. “Can I sue for damages?” Singer asked in the email. “Can we get an injunction against the documentary?”

InsideClimate News reports in their article “Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists,” how “Many of those copied on the email thread, such as Singer and communications specialist Steven Milloy, have financial ties to the tobacco, chemical, and oil and gas industries and have worked to defend them since the 1990s.” [10]

InsideClimate News also documented all those who were cc'd on the email, including the following skeptics and groups:

DeSmogBlog covered the emails here: “Merchants of Doubt Film Debuts, Textbook Denial Attack Campaign Led By Fred Singer Ensues” and DeSmogBlog also archived a full copy of the Singer email thread (PDF).

July 15, 2014

William Happer is introduced as an “industry expert” on climate change and interviewed live on CNBC. During his interview, Happer states the “demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” which is not the first time Happer has said this. [11], [12]

View William Happer's interview below, “CNBC Guest William Happer: Carbon Dioxide Demonized Just Like Jews Were Under Hitler”:

May 8, 2013

William Happer and Harrison H. Schmitt co-author a paper published in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “In Defense of Carbon Dioxide.” [5] The authors submit that no chemical compound in the atmosphere has a worse reputation than CO2, thanks to the “single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control and energy production.” [5] The conclusion of the article states that, “The incredible list of supposed horrors that increasing carbon dioxide will bring the world is pure belief disguised as science.” [5]

January 27, 2012

Will Happer signed a Wall Street Journal opinion piece that claims there is no need to panic about global warming. [13]

Other “scientists” who signed the article include Claude Allègre, J. Scott Armstrong, Roger CohenWilliam Kininmonth, Jan Breslow, Richard Lindzen, James McGrath, Rodney Nichols, Burt Rutan, Harrison H. Schmitt, Nir Shaviv, Edward David, Michael Kelly, Henk Tennekes, and Antonino Zichichi.

Media Transparency reported on the Op-Ed, concluding that most of the scientists have never published articles in peer-reviewed journals on the subject of climate change. They also contacted economist William Nordhaus who had been cited by the article, and he said that the WSJ was guilty of a “Complete Mischaracterization Of My Work.” [14]

Skeptical Science also looked into the signatories, and summarize how the list “only includes four scientists who have actually published climate research in peer-reviewed journals, and only two who have published climate research in the past three decades.” Also, almost half have received funding from oil companies and big industry. [15]

May 20, 2010

William Happer testified ( before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, U.S. House of Representatives on “Climate Science in the Political Arena” (PDF). [2]

February 25, 2009

William Happer testified before the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee where he describes how the dangers of CO2 are “Wildly Exaggerated” and “why I and many scientists like me are not alarmed by increasing levels of CO2.” [3]

Happer said that the earth is in a “CO2 famine,” and more atmospheric carbon dioxide would be beneficial. [16]

The Committee was formerly chaired by climate skeptic Senator James Inhofe who is Senate Majority Committee Member for the Committee on Environment & Public Works. [17]

November 9, 2008

Will Happer's name appears on an ad funded by the CATO institute addressed to then President-Elect Barack Obama, responding to his statement that “Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change.The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear” by saying, “With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.” [18]

1998 – 2008

Will Happer is listed as a signatory to the Oregon Petition. [22]

According to the Associated Press article, the Oregon petition included names that were intentionally placed to prove the invalid name collection process. The Oregon Petition has been used by climate change skeptics as proof that there is no scientific consensus. [19], [20], [21]


*The Richard Loundsbery Foundation has funded (PDF) Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) and the Marshall Institute's Environmental Literacy Council.


William Happer appears to have only published one paper on climate change, titled “Climate Science and Policy: Making the Connection” (PDF).  Upon further investigation, this paper was published by the George C. Marshall Institute and not by any peer-reviewed journal.

Happer has also published an article on “Energy basics” in the “Forum” section of  Issues in Science and Technology  (29.2, Winter 2013: page 5-22.)


  1. Board of Trustees: Dr. William Happer,” MITRE Corporation. Archived March 20, 2011.

  2. “Climate Science in the Political Arena” (PDF), Statement of William Happer before the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming U.S. House of Representatives (May 20, 2010). Archived January 16, 2011.

  3. William Happer's testimony to the Senate Energy Committee on February 25, 2009. Republished by the Science and Public Policy Institute, April 8, 2009. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  4. U. S. Senate Minority Report: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims Scientists Continue to Debunk 'Consensus' in 2008”U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, December 11, 2008. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  5. In Defense of Carbon Dioxide,” The Wall Street Journal, May 8, 2013. Archived September 9, 2015.

  6. Speakers,” Heartland Institute. Archived June 30, 2015.

  7. Dinner Keynote with William Happer, Ph.D.,”Heartland Institute, June 11, 2015. Archived July 14, 2015.

  8. An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change,” Cornwall Alliance For The Stewardship of Creation. April 27, 2015. Archived September 9, 2015.

  9. Judith Curry. “Pope Francis, climate change, and morality,” JudithCurry.com, April 29, 2015. Archived May 27, 2015.

  10. Katherine Bagley. “Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists,” InsideClimate News. March 12, 2015. Archived September 9, 2015.

  11. CNBC's Climate “Expert”: “Demonization Of Carbon Dioxide Is Just Like” Demonization Of “Jews Under Hitler,” Media Matters For America, July 15, 2014.

  12. CNBC Again? Marshall Institute Chairman Brings Hitler Into Climate Conversation,” DeSmogBlog, July 15, 2014.

  13. No Need to Panic About Global Warming,” The Wall Street Journal, January 27, 2012. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  14. The Journal Hires Dentists To Do Heart Surgery,” Media Transparency, January 30, 2012. Archived September 9, 2015.

  15. The Latest Denialist Plea for Climate Change Inaction,” Skeptical Science, January 31, 2012. Archived September 9, 2015.

  16. Kennedy Maize. “Will Happer: We need more CO2,” Power, February 25, 2009. Archived March 3, 2009.

  17. Members,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works. Archived January 25, 2016.

  18. With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true.” Cato.org. Archived July 1, 2009.

  19. H. Josef Hebert. “Jokers Add Fake Names To Warming Petition,” The Seattle Times, May 1, 1998. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  20. (Majority Press Release). “INHOFE QUESTIONS SCIENCE BEHIND ARCTIC REPORT,” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, November 16,2 004. Archived September 9, 2015. Webcite URL:http://www.webcitation.org/6emyscGCo

  21. (Press Release). “More Than 15,000 Scientists Protest Kyoto Accord; Speak Out Against Global Warming Myth,” SEPP.org. April 21, 1998. Archived September 28, 2006.

  22. List of Signers By Name,” Global Warming Petition Project. Archived September 9, 2015.

  23. Board Members,” George C. Marshall Institute. Archived September 9, 2015.

  24. Academic Advisory Council,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived September 9, 2015.

  25. “The MITRE Corporation: Annual Report 2011” (PDF), Mitre.org. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  26. Board of Directors & Staff,” Richard Lounsbery Foundation. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  27. About,” Co2Coalition. Archived September 4, 2015.

  28. Marc Morano. “Prominent Scientists Declare Climate Claims Ahead of UN Summit 'Irrational' – 'Based On Nonsense' – 'Leading us down a false path',” Climate Depot, November 19, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6dRDNqepY

  29. CO2 is plant food,” SkepticalScience. Accessed November 30, 2015.

  30. U.S. Senate Committee On Commerce, Science, & Transportation Senator John Thune, Chairman * Senator Bill Nelson, Ranking Member,” U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. Archived December 4, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6dWzmXaup

  31. Scott K. Johnson. “Senate Science Committee hearing challenges 'dogma' of climate science,” Ars Technica, December 9, 2015. Archived December 10, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6dg22APzp

  32. Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6deZxlWnq

  33. John Schwartz. “Greenpeace Subterfuge Tests Climate Research,” The New York Times, December 9, 2015. WebCite URLhttp://www.webcitation.org/6dheFehms

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