An academic tipped to be President Donald Trump’s White House Science Adviser has called for the United States to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.
Professor William Happer, a Princeton physicist, told The Telegraph in an interview: “I hope he will. Our friends in Europe wanted it so everybody had to sign up but it’s a complete waste.
“There are diverging opinions in the Trump administration, what to do about climate change in particular. I hope he will withdraw.
“It (the Paris agreement) is not going to hurt the environmentalists, it’s going to hurt people in Asia and Africa and I think it’s profoundly immoral. What people there need is electricity you can afford. Prosperity, what’s wrong with that? This is an example of human folly.”
His comments came as Mr Trump said he would decide this week whether to withdraw the US from the 2015 agreement which has been signed by nearly 200 countries and was regarded by President Barack Obama as a key plank of his legacy.
It calls for holding the increase in the global average temperature this century to below 2C above pre-industrial levels.
Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was openly frustrated by Mr Trump’s refusal to recommit the US to the accord at the meeting of G7 leaders last week.
She said the “times in which we could rely fully on others are somewhat over” and criticised those who put on “national blinkers” when responding to global problems.
He has put forward the argument that more, not less, carbon dioxide should be pumped into the atmosphere, claiming that would dramatically increase agricultural yields, including for wheat, rice, and soybeans, allowing more humans to inhabit the Earth.
Prof Happer complained that his views had made him the target of a “witch hunt” by the climate science community. He said: “I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the consensus on climate change and the consensus on witches. At the witch trials in Salem the judges were educated at Harvard. This was supposedly 100 per cent science. The one or two people who said there were no witches were immediately hung. Not much has changed.”
The physicist, who’s father was a Scottish medical officer in the Indian Army, is an emeritus professor at Princeton, and was director of science in the US Department of Energy under President George H. W. Bush.
His status as a leading contender to be Mr Trump’s science adviser once again highlighted the president’s tendency to listen to voices from outside the mainstream.
While accepting climate change exists, Prof Happer argued that the role of humans in it had been exaggerated and that carbon dioxide – which he regards as “good” – had been “lumped in with real pollutants”.
He said: “CO2 is certainly a good thing if you look at agricultural yields all over the world. You can see the Earth greening from satellites. It’s exactly what you would expect from more CO2.
“In geological terms we are currently in a CO2 famine. In the past the levels of it have been mostly in the thousands of parts per million (ppm) but now it’s a paltry 400ppm. Low CO2 levels are scary. They bring us closer to starvation.”
Climate scientists have responded to Prof Happer’s position suggesting the consequences of increasing CO2 to the levels he suggests would be heightened global warming, melting glaciers, thawing permafrost, dramatically rising sea levels and widespread death and destruction.
He has accused them of being “alarmist” and “fiddling temperature figures,” and of being a “cult”.