National Post Disgraces Itself Again (Again)

Lorne Gunter of the National Post disgraced himself yet again this weekend with another outrageously inaccurate column about something he apparently knows nothing about: climate science.

Gunter held forward William Happer as his climate skeptic champion to put those dullards at the IPCC to shame. He crows that Happer “is hardly a climate change ‘denier’ ”, and is instead “one of the world’s leading experts on the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases.”

A quick internet search reveals that Happer is not climate researcher at all. His recent publications relate to MRI imaging in the lungs of rats.

Perhaps more revealing is that Happer is also the Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute – a right wing thing tank that has received $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998. The usual list of Exxon-funded hacks have also been involved with this “Institute”, including Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Patrick J. Michaels.

Wiki GraphLast week Happer told a congressional committee, “I believe the increase of CO2 (in the atmosphere) is not a cause for alarm.”

He went on to add: “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what are now”. A video of this testimony is available here.

Is this true? Of course not.

Here is a graph of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 for the last 450,000 years. Humans evolved as a species about 200,000 years ago.

The planet has been around for a long time and there is evidence that atmospheric CO2 hundreds of millions of years ago was higher that it is now. However, it is hardly a world that humans would want to live in.

Radically different atmospheric chemistry during the Carboniferous period allowed millipedes to grow up to ten feet long. How would you like to find one of these critters eating your cat food?big bug

Happer also reassured Congress that the frightening scenario of positive feedbacks such as carbon and methane release from melting permafrost is nothing to worry about. “The feedback is close to zero and may even be negative.” Prof. Happer testified.

True? Absolutely not.

A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found many of the Earth’s ecosystems are already being pushed close to dangerous tipping points.

Everywhere we looked, there was evidence that what was believed to be likely has happened. Nature has been cooperating with climate change theory unfortunately,” warned author Dr. Stephen Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University.

Other interesting insights about Happer are covered here in a telling post from one of his former colleagues at Princeton.

It is also illustrative to look at what media outlets parroted the Happer story last week - minus of course any of the quick fact checking that I just did above.

A Google news search shows that Happer’s grossly inaccurate testimony was covered by such luminary publications at the American Thinker, Capitalism Magazine, and the Right Side News – in a piece penned by non other than Marc Morano.

Morano of course is former staffer of Senator Inhofe, who has made a lucrative career out of denying climate science and taking hefty donations from the fossil fuel industry.

Could it be that Lorne Gunter and the National Post are on Marc Morano’s speed dial in his new gig as a “clearinghouse and one-stop shopping’ for climate and environmental news”? 

The quality of Gunter’s research is so laughably bad that there has to some explanation.


Thx for the great post, Mitch.

You have to hand it to Lorne Gunter, though: if there is a living breathing climate dissembler anywhere in the world - regardless of how obviously stained they are by their financial connections to denier machines like the George C. Marshall Institute - Gunter will find said confusion-meister and present him to the readers of the National Post as if he were actually credible.

You’ll notice that Gunter overlooked all the other scientists who spoke at the same meeting, working professionals who actually have expertise in the field of climate science and who don’t enrich themselves on the side with fat payments from political hothouses like the Marshall Institute.

The howling insistence on “balance” (if you quote a climate scientist, you have to quote a denier or else you’re offending the precepts of free speech) also falls by the wayside when it comes to Gunter’s own contribution. Nary a yeahsayer to be found in his self-righteous denial.

My favorite of Gunter’s points, though, was this: “The significance of Prof. Happer’s statement is not that it proves global warming is false, but rather that it shows there is no consensus among respected scientists.”

Lorne, seriously. Pick up your Oxford or click on the Wiktionary and check the definition of “consensus:” it’s “General agreement among the members of a given group or community.” So, you can come up with however many superannuated crackpots you like - especially if you continue to choose people who have never done a lick of work in the field and who currently spend more time playing politics than pursuing science - and that won’t begin to rattle the genuine, general agreement that, unless jerks like you stop pushing, this handcart is heading for climate hell.

Do you know your source picked the two data points off the graph of temperature by year that could seem to prove his point against the global warming – custom coursework in the absence of seeing the whole graph, looking at the five-year trend lines? your source quote-mined a lengthy New York Times from 1975 to claim scientist were ‘shouting’ about global cooling in 1975?

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I fail to see the difference between cash starved governments funding scientist, with the hope of taxing carbon for revenue and energy funded science to oppose it. Both notions are self serving.
Check the facts, CO2 is a minor player.
We (the earth) are in a horribly cold environment with a heater 93,000,000 miles away. That heater IS our lifeline. Changes or oscillations in the heat output of the sun have the primary control of our environment, serving to keep the planet’s h2o in it’s liquid form.
Solar science seems to say we are in for a few decades of global cooling due to lower solar activity (long term cycles).
Watch the news over the next few years and come to your own conclusions rather than watching a politically funded computer model.

[davido quote]

“We (the earth) are in a horribly cold environment with a heater 93,000,000 miles away. That heater IS our lifeline. Changes or oscillations in the heat output of the sun have the primary control of our environment, serving to keep the planet’s h2o in it’s liquid form.”

[/davido quote] 

But how can that be true? When Earth’s temperatures have been rising and the sun’s output  is currently at a minimum and before that had an output that was declining from ~ 1970!

Perhaps davido would be so good as to explain how rising Earth teperatures are caused by falling solar output?

Maybe davido hasn’t been telling the truth?

Maybe davido was using a strawman argument?

No-one apart from the denialists claim that the only cause was CO2! If you ask someone with knowledge, and they’re honest, they will say it’s a combination of many factors. CO2 from fossil-fuels is just one of the GHGs that has been on the rise due to human activities. It is however a major one and what makes it more significant is the long residence in the atmosphere. 

Total Solar Irradiance

Actually, it is changes or oscillations in the shape of Earth’s orbit and the tilt of its axis that have the primary control of our environment.

If you doubt it, compare average January temperature to average June temperature in, let’s say, Chicago. Then compare global mean temperature at the height of the last glacial staid to global mean temperature during the Holocene Climate Optimum 6000-8000 years ago. Neither difference was caused by a change in the sun.

And if not for CO2 in the atmosphere, it would hold far less water vapour, and much more of the ocean would be frozen over. That means CO2 plays a critical role in keeping the planet’s H2O in it’s liquid form.

But hey, never let a few facts stand in the way of preserving ignornace.

You might want to remember that money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you a science education.

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Thanks for this informative article, I like your chart showing the CO2 level rising to record highs. Some of those so called experts even wrote that global warming is just part of natural process, in which we are currently exiting the warmer phase of ice age, and that things aren’t so bad compare to historical levels. classified ads

Excellent work, we (the earth) are in a horribly cold environment with a heater 93,000,000 miles away. That heater is our lifeline. Changes or oscillations in the heat output of the sun have the primary control of our environment, serving to keep the planet’s h2o in it’s liquid form. Good job keep on posting this type of interesting articles. For dissertation writing help, custom dissertation, dissertation help visit

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