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 August 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]

Key Deeds

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 also currently 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 700 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims.” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, January 14, 2009. Archived March 5, 2009. 

  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 September 9, 2015.

  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. Archived September 9, 2015. 

  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.

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