William Happer
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

In 2013, when Princeton University Professor William Happer co-authored an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that argued that increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would promote plant growth and be a net positive for humanity, we here at the Washington Monthly mocked him. The man is clearly bought and paid for.

Happer served as board chair at the Exxon-funded George C. Marshall Institute, which he spun into a new group, the CO2 Coalition. In 2015, he was caught in a sting accepting payment of $250 an hour, to be funneled through his CO2 Coalition, to write a pro-fossil fuel report secretly paid for by what he thought was Middle Eastern oil and Indonesian coal businesses.

Similarly, Peabody Coal donated $8,000 to Happer’s CO2 Coalition in exchange for his testifying at a Minnesota regulatory hearing on the social cost of carbon. “I told Peabody I’d be glad to write testimony for them,” Happer told ClimateWire in December 2015. “And if they want to pay me, I’d be delighted to take the money for our little coalition.”

He’s also an extremist even by normal climate denialist standards:

Happer has compared the overwhelming scientific consensus that carbon dioxide causes global warming to Nazi “propaganda” and said, “What used to be science has turned into a cult.”

In 2014, he went as far as to claim that “the demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” in an interview with CNBC. “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews,” Happer said.

So, naturally, President Trump thinks he’s the perfect guy to appoint to head “a panel to assess whether climate change poses a national security threat.”

The proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, which would be established by executive order, is being spearheaded by William Happer, a National Security Council senior director. Happer, an emeritus professor of physics at Princeton University, has said that carbon emissions linked to climate change should be viewed as an asset rather than a pollutant.

The initiative represents the Trump administration’s most recent attempt to question the findings of federal scientists and experts on climate change and comes less than three weeks after Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats delivered a worldwide threat assessment that identified it as a significant security risk.

Being completely in the bag for the fossil fuel industry isn’t enough to make him the perfect Trump appointee. What makes him perfect is that he got caught in 2015 sting operation accepting money from what he thought were “Middle Eastern oil and Indonesian coal businesses.”

This didn’t prevent Trump from getting him assigned as a senior director on the National Security Council and it isn’t preventing Trump from giving him a high-profile role in attempting to debunk the scientific consensus of the world, the government, and the Pentagon.

No matter how bad you think Trump is, he will always prove that he is worse.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com