The Great Climate Change Debate: William Happer v. David Karoly, Part A

By Andy May

featured image_photos

February 15, 2016 was the beginning of an in-depth debate on man-made climate change between two well-known experts in the field, Dr. William Happer and Dr. David Karoly, hosted by Both have been heavily involved in atmospheric research since the 1980s, but they have landed on opposite sides of the debate. Continue reading

Interview with William Happer on Climate Change

By Andy May

While attending the latest Heartland Conference on energy in New Orleans, I ran across a pamphlet that contained an excellent interview with Professor William Happer, the famous Princeton physicist, on climate change. As described in the pamphlet, Professor Happer has been heavily involved in climate science since before he was a co-author of the landmark book The Long-Term Impacts of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Levels, edited by Gordon J. MacDonald (Ballinger Publishing Co., 1982). Some have tried to claim that we should ignore what he says about climate change since he isn’t a “real” climate scientist, only one of the most esteemed physicists in the world and the developer of adaptive optics. This is silly since the development of adaptive optics requires a thorough understanding of atmospheric physics. It is a testament to his stature that Greenpeace tried to trap Professor Happer by sending him a fraudulent email in 2015, pretending to be a Middle Eastern potential client asking him to write something about the benefits of CO2. This fraudulent trap failed miserably since Professor Happer made it clear in the subsequent email exchange what his position on CO2 was and said he would write it up only if the “client” agreed with his position.

No author or date are given for the interview by, but the comments suggest the interview was conducted in early 2016. It covers the full range of topics on climate science. It is well worth reading in full. It contains an interesting biography of Professor Happer, his estimate of climate sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 (1-degree C as opposed to the IPCC estimate of 3 degrees), a full and clear explanation of the benefits of more CO2 and his opinion about the so-called “consensus.”

Commuting to work: car, train or bus?

By Andy May

The United States Department of Transportation tells us in their online report “Public Transportation’s Role in responding to Climate Change” that we should use public transportation to reduce our greenhouse emissions. This claim is also made in Time’sGlobal Warming Survival Guide.” Even the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended public transportation, in 2017, as “one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse emissions.” Public transportation does reduce congestion during peak traffic hours, but data from the National Transit Database suggests that cars are cheaper and use less fuel per passenger-mile traveled, so this claim is suspicious. Let’s examine it.
Continue reading

Does global climate change require a global solution?

Opinion by Andy May

Al Gore wrote in the Huffington Post (August 28, 2014) that the need for “bold action” to curtail “old dirty sources of energy … is obvious and urgent.” The proper scientific response to an assertion like that is why? How can I test this idea? Science is not a belief, it is a method of testing ideas. We use an idea to make predictions and then we gather data to see if the predictions are correct. If the predictions are accurate, the idea survives. If any of the predictions fail, the idea is disproven, and it must be modified or simply rejected. Continue reading

The PBS Newshour Whale Oil Myth

By Andy May


While researching fossil fuel history recently, I discovered a PBS article entitled “The Whale Oil Myth.” You can see the full article here. It is based on another blog post on the environmental history web site here. The authors are not identified, but the original ideas are from Dr. Bill Kovarik from the School of Communication at Radford University and the late Dr. Lester Lave, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University. Continue reading

Oxygen-18 Stability in Foraminifera fossils, implications in paleoclimatology

By Andy May

18O is a rare isotope of oxygen. The ratio of 18O to the normal 16O in foraminifera fossils (“forams”) can be used to estimate paleo-ocean temperatures. Higher values mean lower temperatures. A recent article on (here) led me to Bernard, et al., 2017, which has experimental data that suggest 18O concentrations can be altered in fossils by solid-state diffusion after fossilization. This can corrupt the measurement and the resulting calculated temperature. According to Bernard and colleagues, the 18O concentration alteration is visually imperceptible, so one cannot tell the fossil has been altered by visual inspection. If their results are valid, how will this impact our view of climate history? Continue reading

Coral Reefs, Temperature and Ocean pH

By Andy May

Georgiou, et al. 2015 have reported that coral reefs in the Australian Great Barrier Reef, near Heron Island, are insensitive to ocean pH changes. Continue reading