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Young Leaders Circle Forum With William Happer

Wednesday January 2016


William Happer Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, Princeton University
Rodney W. Nichols Trustee, Manhattan Institute

Global warming, it is said, is the single greatest threat to humanity's future. Scientists the world over have declared that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth's atmosphere are causing rapid increases in temperature and volatile weather—melting polar icecaps and elevating sea levels. Coastal cities are threatened and wildlife habitats are vulnerable. In response to these grave warnings, in Paris this month world leaders produced an international agreement aimed at reducing worldwide CO2 emissions. The Paris Agreement has been lauded by many policymakers and pundits as a monumental achievement, by others as insufficient to address the crisis, and by a vocal minority as frivolous, misguided, and unnecessary. This latter group claims that climate change is not predominantly caused by carbon dioxide or any human activity. Thus, they would assert, global warming cannot be meaningfully slowed, stopped, or reversed by any treaty or human effort—at least, not at acceptable cost to the global economy.

As policymakers around the world digest and begin to consider the implications of the Paris Agreement, it is from one of these much-maligned climate change skeptics that we will hear at YLC's next gathering. What, exactly, are the sources of his doubts? How would the majority of the scientific community respond to his critiques? Why might he persist in a quixotic campaign to convince colleagues, lawmakers, and the public at-large that CO2 emissions are not as fearsome as some believe? Regardless, as the Earth grows warmer, what's to be done?

Please join us on Wednesday, January 13th as YLC welcomes Princeton University professor and physicist William Happer, in conversation with Manhattan Institute trustee Rodney W. Nichols, to discuss the science and politics of climate change. Mr. Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He served as director of the Department of Energy's Office of Science in the George H. W. Bush administration, and has testified before the U.S. Congress and other groups as a dissenting voice on the subject of carbon-dioxide emissions, federal regulation, and global warming. Happer's interlocutor will be Mr. Nichols, who is a past president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, and had previously been a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Corporation of New York and executive vice president of The Rockefeller University. Nichols has advised the White House, State, Defense, and Energy Departments, as well as the United Nations with respect to issues of science and technology. Happer and Nichols are board members of the CO2 Coalition in Washington, D.C.