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Happer on CNBC

William Happer recently appeared on CNBC's Squawkbox show, discussing the 400ppm story.

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Reader Comments (53)

Wow, that was great. First time I've seen Happer, not read him - a Montford-like calm in delivering crucial putdowns. And the interviewer/convener was a bit more on the ball than Roger Harrabin! This is the MSM in May 2013? Things are changing.

May 17, 2013 at 2:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Very refreshing. It was nice to see alarmist claims and actual data quoted side by side.

I cannot imagine, however much I try, ever seeing or hearing a frank discussion like that on the BBC.

May 17, 2013 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Watching this helps you to understand why CAGW advocates refuse to debate the subject.

May 17, 2013 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

I liked that interviewer! Don't think the BBC will be offering him a job any time soon.

May 17, 2013 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle


Oh, hang on............

Joking aside, I'm pretty sure that Roger Harrabin will be around this blog at the moment, so: Roger - this is the sort of challenging material that we should expect from the media (ESPECIALLY the BBC who claim to speak truth to power) in 2013 given how things have panned out since 1998.

Your piece this morning, with a single non-scientist blogger shot down by both yourself and TWO establishment scientists, followed up later by yet another establishment scientist, might have cut the mustard back in the 90's. But things are very different now. Perhaps the non-warming will soon last as long as the warming spell? Who knows?

But with our current "energy" "policy", we are heading off the rails at breakneck speed. With expensive energy, many, many more British people are going to die, are dying, each winter. These are real, actual living (for now) people. Not hypothecated possible future grandchildren. As for poor people in the third world, do you actually think expensive energy is going to improve their survival chances??

Expensive energy is regressive, inhuman and unfair, as well as being pointless and useless as a weather control device. For goodness sake, please be a proper BBC journalist and start challenging the establishment instead of being their cheerleader.

May 17, 2013 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

The wonderful thing about this piece was that it was on CNBC, which is part of NBC, a media company that is normally very strongly in the warmist camp! I wouldn't be surprised to see this on Fox, but an NBC channel?

May 17, 2013 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Goad

- If you go to this CNBC page you get the transcript and comments buttons to click on aswell
- Line-up for that prog includes : Bob Doll from Nuveen Asset Management, & WR Hambrecht's Bill Hambrecht
- "William Happer, Princeton University professor, argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions are weakly linked to global warming and could actually increase agricultural productivity."

- main point was : World was OK at 3000ppm CO2 70-80 million years ago when our primate ancestors lived (same as it is inside a submarine)

May 17, 2013 at 4:02 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I just noted exactly the same 'main point' in my personal wiki, alongside the embedded video, stewgreen. I hadn't heard this explained so clearly before.

May 17, 2013 at 4:15 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

A veritable microcosm! It would have been even more informative if a baying audience of agitated citizens had been there to cheer statements in the alarm camp and boo those in the calm one. As it was, we had agitated journalists (I suppose) most of whom were puzzled to be in the presence of a calm, extremely distinguished physicist who was gently countering the perspective they had been brought with up from kindergarten onwards about carbon dioxide.

Put yourself in their position for a moment. Their belief in CO2 being bad is like your belief that arsenic is bad. How would you feel being with an expert who was assuring you that a good deal more arsenic would be just the thing? You'd be blustering and waving your arms as well!

The decades of widespread and very successful promotion of alarm over CO2 mean that there is going to be a lot of people doing the same, as and when calmer, better-informed voices get through to them. Let us hope they will.

May 17, 2013 at 4:16 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade


Very pithy and bang on the money. Meaning that there is not the remotest chance of Harrabin taking any notice.

May 17, 2013 at 4:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

I think someone like Happer would be eaten alive if he was ever interviewed by the BBC...he just wouldnt get the chance to finish a sentence without being jumped all over by who ever was interviewing him.

Then again, I think the item just highlighted the difference between the BBC and American news outlets in that the central point of any interview on the BBC is the BBC's opinion whereas, as far as Im concerned, American news outlets dont seem to suffer so much from this affliction.



May 17, 2013 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Excellent! Wish we had a few journos like that over here.

May 17, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeH

Can I refer you to my recent post on "unthreaded"

May 17, 2013 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoss Lea

I watch CNBC Squawk bax every day. The interviewer was Joe Kernan and as much as I like him, he is worse than hemeroids. However, he is staunchly anti CO² and well read. I suspect he visits WUWT or many other blogs. He is also a scientist by degree but an ex-stockbroker by trade.

His biggest problem is that he won't let the interviewee talk.

May 17, 2013 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Box eu lieu de bax.

May 17, 2013 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

May 17, 2013 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

I don't think you listened well. Couldn't stop Kernan talking even he said that he was doing the item himself rather than Earl H.

May 17, 2013 at 7:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

The other wonderful thing I noted on this piece was the acknowledgement that submariners live with CO2 at relatively high levels (3,500 to 4,100 ppm) while submerged (limited by scrubbers and an O2 bleed into the boat) with no adverse impact. (Submariners do it deeper.)

May 17, 2013 at 8:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Goad

The interviewer keeps talking.

May 18, 2013 at 2:47 AM | Registered Commentershub

@Mike Goad "submariners live with CO2 at relatively high levels (3,500 to 4,100 ppm) while submerged (limited by scrubbers..)

Mike, are these figures before or after scrubbing? If after, can you provide a link to confirm? Thanks, simon.

May 18, 2013 at 5:42 AM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Simon, I guess the answer to your question would be neither before nor after, but "while scrubbing," instead. Those were average shipboard concentrations. One CO2 scrubber is normally in service at all times when submerged, with the other operated intermittently as needed.

While I may have once known the limits from my submarine qualifications, that was over 35 years ago. I found the values I quoted by doing a search on "CO2 limits on submarines." They are from "Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants," page 47:

"Submarine crew are reported to be the major source of CO2 on board submarines (Crawl 2003). Data collected on nine nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 3,500 ppm with a range of 0-10,600 ppm, and data collected on 10 nuclear-powered attack submarines indicate an average CO2 concentration of 4,100 ppm with a range of 300-11,300 ppm (Hagar 2003)."

May 18, 2013 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Goad

Andrew Sorkin is a well read liberal and if he does not even understand that CO2 is not toxic at 1000 ppm the whole CO2 as "pollution" argument is MUCH worse than we thought.

May 18, 2013 at 6:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterPoptech

It is funny when I hear people quote the "no warming since 1998" since 1998 was the year when we had the largest El Nino event in recorded history. Since sea surface temperatures were so high then, the measurements using that date as a starting point show abnormally low warming. If you start only a few years before that you get significant warming. You are being fooled people! These guys are paid BIG MONEY to create doubt. The simple fact that this guy can straight faced argue that 1000 ppm would be ok because early primates lived during that period shows that he is just arguing to make money without regard to how these things will affect our crops and our economies. The warmest year in u.s. history was 2012 and it was only 1 degree Celsius above normal. During the heatwaves of the summer, Midwest corn production was cut in half. Because corn can't germinate if the temperature is above 98F at night.

May 18, 2013 at 7:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterjai mitchell

@jai mitchell

I really don't understand the point of your argument. We live in the world we do, not the world of the theory. And you can argue all you like about what *did* happen, but that is gone

What is of interest now is what *is* happening.

And it is undoubtedly true that since 1998 the global average temperature has remained static while the CO2 concentration has increased by 9%.

At the very least that shows that the simple relationship 'increased CO2 inevitably leads to increased temperature' is inadequate to describe the observations. Or as Feynman put it 'if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong'

And please - no more of this Big Money - You Are Being Fooled malarkey'. I had learnt enough science to be able to read a simple graph and draw some conclusions about whether a theory matched the observations by the age of about 12.

I don't need any Big Money to tell me how to do it, and neither am I much influenced by people who can't come up with a better argument than yours.

There has been no observed increase in GAT for the last 15 years. Grow up and get over it.

PS : The US comprises just less than 2% of the global surface area. The midwest is less than half of that. The total US corn production in 2012 was greater than in any year ever prior to 2007 and the USDA is currently forecasting that this years harvest will be 7.5% above the previous all time record.

Perhaps we can see the fertilisation effect of all that lovely CO2 helping our crops to grow even better ;-)?

May 18, 2013 at 8:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

jai mitchell, thank you for your contribution.

You claim that we are being fooled by selecting a starting point of 1998. Fair enough but it actually is the year when it stopped warming. The alarmists are using a cold year as their staring point as well to show alarming warming. So you need to be careful and sceptical both ways.

When it comes to the 2012 heat wave, it was caused by a blocking high. Just the same kind of weather what caused the Russian 2010 heat wave. There are no reputable scientists who claim that either one of these were caused by climate change. Please do look it up to make sure.

When it comes to agriculture, it's universally proven over and over again that crop yilds are higher in warmer countries compared to colder ones. Again, feel free to study FAO statistics to make sure. At every place on earth (apart from North Korea, probably) has agriculture increased it's production over these 20 years of AGW scare. So there's really not that much evidence to suggest that we are in trouble.

May 18, 2013 at 8:11 AM | Registered CommenterVieras

Some of us have functional memories, so that we remember that in 1999 the Alarmists were jumping up and down screaming "hottest year ever; we are all going to fry". I don't remember them saying that 19998 was an El Nino year and we should not jump to hasty conclusions! So in Unix terms you asked for it, so you got it.

May 18, 2013 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterGordon Walker

Will Happer. Pretty cool guy.

On a CNBC money program no one answered the question - and I paraphrase: "Why do 97% of climate scientists say we're killing the planet?" - with the correct answer. And the answer is simply: Money.

May 18, 2013 at 8:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

Jimmy: Happer did answer but in a rather different way. He said that if you counted properly it was probably 50/50 for and against his position. I'm not saying money hasn't corrupted climate science; Richard Lindzen has admitted explicitly that it is a corrupted field. But even allowing for that 50/50 feels about right.

May 18, 2013 at 8:34 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

@ jai mitchell: He didn't use the figure "1000ppm" with regard to our primate ancestors. His quoted figure was actually more like 3 or 4 times that amount. 1000ppm is nothing. It can be at least that much in your house. Sitting in a crowded room you can quadruple that number, and nobody ever got sick from it.

We know 1998 was a strong El Nino year. Everyone knows it, including of course the IPCC, who also accept the fact of the 15-year "hiatus" in the warming. The reason your argument is bogus is because this is not about using 1998 as a "starting point" and drawing a straight line from A to B; it's about looking at the smoothed data over the last hundred or so years and seeing the temps flatten over the last 15. Sure, it might pick up again, but these are the facts as of now.

May 18, 2013 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

May 18, 2013 at 6:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterMike Goad

Love your response. The lower level trolls are out to day so no real challenge but a great response.

May 18, 2013 at 8:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Higher CO2 and warmer temperatures are a biomic blessing not a curse and to breed human guilt from fear of the blessing is an error, if not a sin.

May 18, 2013 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

I was going to respond to Jai Mitchell, but it would be a pity, I think. Such wide-eyed innocence and naivety suggests that this is a young, earnest person, perhaps a teenager, bursting with idealism and "good" thoughts.

I remember those days. So all I'll say is: enjoy it while it lasts, Jai. Most of us wake up from the Matrix, eventually.

May 18, 2013 at 12:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

Mike Goad:
Wow, thanks for that data. So the government is sending out nuclear powered submarines which expose the submariners to an AVERAGE 4,100 CO2 level?
........and this is the same government that is panicking about levels reaching 400?
Shome Mishtake Shurely????

May 18, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermeltemian

Strange that this video has suddenly gone missing from MSNBC.

May 18, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

Anthony - stewgreen (above) provided this link to CNBC, which is still working for me in IE with cookies on:

Transcript is there too.

May 18, 2013 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

The link you give now shows a "no related articles" message for me.
Looks like it's been pulled.

May 18, 2013 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

NBY Link works for me - IE10 (yeah, I know)

May 18, 2013 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAngusPangus

Great video - but if anything William Happer was a bit TOO diffident - particularly on the (repeated ) '97% of climate scientists' mantra. We all (on this side of the fence) know that that is a complete fallacy...
Anyway - at least the matter got debated sensibly - as posted above, imagine the same interview on the BBC...!

May 18, 2013 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

It's up again (Firefox)

May 18, 2013 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

sherlock1: Disagree on Happer's diffidence and the 97%. As I've already pointed out he stated, gently but firmly, that he thought the true figure was more like 50/50 for/against his view. That completely blew away the 97%. But he didn't let that be the focus: his focus was squarely on the evidence. And he didn't mind the main man dominating the conversation, he just smiled. No sign of ego, just competence and determination for the truth to prevail, whatever way worked. Very hard to write this guy off as either emotional or bigoted. An almost flawless example of how to handle the MSM and retain integrity.

May 18, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Watching the video there were several times when I wanted to say to the program host: "Shut up and let your guest respond to your question/statement." What is it about program hosts that won't allow them to let the guest respond without interruption? I thought the point of having a guest was to get his thoughts, not regurgitate yours.

May 18, 2013 at 4:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterReed Coray

jai mitchell,
Have you got some evidence that "These guys are paid BIG MONEY to create doubt"? Can you document that Dr. Happer being paid "BIG MONEY" to "fool people". I mean, did Dr. Happer get big donations similar to the $250,000 from Big Ketchup that Jim Hansen received from the Heinz Foundation? I think the only person being fooled here is jai mitchell.

May 18, 2013 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Austin

Happer's calm, succinct, contained level of speech was the highlight of the piece.

He could easily have have exploded and used language like 'nonsense', 'bilge' or 'rubbish' about the "97% of climate scientists believe blah blah blah..........." that is so oft repeated by the MSM, but he didn't he just calmly pointed out that the 'study' was flawed and the had he been asked the question he'd have answered yes (and therefore included in the '97%).

We need to see and hear more from this guy!

May 18, 2013 at 6:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterDougS

Jai Mitchell,
Corn doesn't wait until midsummer to germinate. There is a thing called winter in the corn-growing regions of the world.

May 18, 2013 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Mike Goad (6;43 AM)

Thanks Mike. Perhaps my question was a bit dim. When you said "submariners live with CO2 at relatively high levels (3,500 to 4,100 ppm) while submerged (limited by scrubbers..) I didn't realise that nuclear-submariners actually lived continuously for months on end breathing air at such a "high" concentration of CO2 only maintained by the constant use of scrubbers preventing further increase.

Does make you realise how paltry 4 ppm is in comparison.

May 18, 2013 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered Commentersimon abingdon

Simon, No problem. I understood. There is also another process that's pretty important, since all that CO2 that's scrubbed is discharged overboard came from the exhalation of the crew, which, of course, in a sealed environment, depletes the O2, which has to be replaced.

An Oxygen Generator is used to produce oxygen and hydrogen by electrolysis. The hydrogen is discharged overboard and the pure oxygen is stored in tanks outside the pressure hull. Oxygen from the tanks is "bled" into the submarine at points forward and aft.

I remember a number of times where I tried to "cure" a headache by placing my face near the "O2 bleed." I don't know that it ever actually helped. I can't attribute the headaches to the CO2 as I had them when I wasn't on the boat as well as both before and after I was attached to submarines.

May 18, 2013 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Goad

Note that spacecraft CO2 concentrations are also similar to those found in submarines...

'On earth, the outdoor CO2 concentration is typically about 0.03%, and average indoor air contains CO2 in the range of 0.08% to 0.1% (IEQ 2006). In nominal spacecraft operations, the CO2 concentration is typically about 0.5%, but the concentration approached 2% during the troubled Apollo 13 mission (Michel et al. 1975).'

May 18, 2013 at 10:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Actual in one way this 400 idea is good news , how we reached this 'tipping point ' its going to be very hard for them to keep BS the publicly if the climate refueses to 'tip' has they been told time and again it must .

May 18, 2013 at 10:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterKNR

The transcript on CNBC's web page is a bit limited, so I've put together one which might be clearer:

May 18, 2013 at 11:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlex Cull

A bit more perspective:
Mammalian cells (and many other species) cultured by cell biologists are typically grown in incubators enriched with CO2 at 4%, which is 40 000 ppm (forty thousand ppm).

This is approximately the same concentration as the air exhaled (i.e. OUT) from human lungs into the atmosphere. So it doesn't take any advanced mathematics to work out that we all breathe out air containing approximately 100 times greater concentration of carbon dioxide than the air we breathe in.

May 18, 2013 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

In 1993, Happer resigned as Director of Research for the US DoE because he refused to lie for Gore.

He warned that the claim made by Climate Alchemy that ghg-absorbed IR is directly thermalised by multiple collisions** when it is in excess of Local Thermodynamic Equilibrium, is wrong. This is basic statistical thermodynamics, going back to Gibs in the 1880s and is proved by the physics of the CO2 laser.

20 years later, we still have Climate Alchemy pushing false physics for all it's worth.

May 19, 2013 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

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