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Reader’s View: Head of climate committee is no expert

The “Pro/Con” on the April 6 Opinion page continued the unfortunate practice of disseminating climate-change commentary from unqualified sources.

A quick internet search reveals the writer of the “yes” column (“Climate science needs critical review by skeptical experts”), Myron Ebell, the director of the Center for Energy and Environment in Washington, D.C., was educated in economics and political science. But climate change is a complex scientific subject that demands technical expertise. Being a mouthpiece for a libertarian advocacy group in no way qualifies one to pontificate on this subject.

Ebell’s column made much of his position being supported by William Happer, a Princeton physics professor. While Happer’s a respected scientist in his own field, that field is atomic physics and spectroscopy, not climate science. He is a specialist stepping out of his expertise, a sad example of a gifted man allowing political ideology to debase science.

In the scientific community, Happer’s an outlier whose views on climate change are rejected by a majority of his colleagues. In 2009, the American Physical Society, a professional organization of tens of thousands of physicists, overwhelmingly rejected his proposal to weaken the organization’s public statement. You can check that statement on the organization’s website. It says, unequivocally: “The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. … We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”

President Donald Trump is now enlisting Happer to lead a bogus committee to analyze the threat of climate change. Trump has a history of ignoring science in favor of fantasies. He appears uninterested in technical expertise; he seems to simply want a lackey who’ll tell him what he wants to hear. Appointing Happer to lead a climate-science committee, as Trump has done, is as unimaginable as appointing a former fossil-fuel lobbyist to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Oh wait, Trump did that, too.

James J. Amato

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