Greenpeace alleges U. professor accepted monetary compensation for writing research papers
Physics professor William Happer GS ’64 has been accused of accepting bribes to write research papers that cast doubt on the reality of climate change, however he hasdenied these allegations.
According to the details of the investigation published on Dec. 8 by environmental campaigning organizationGreenpeace, which brought the charges, Happer is one of two academics at leading universities accused of accepting secret payments from fossil fuel companies to promote their interests by undermining arguments about climate change.
The other accused academic is Frank Clemente, a sociology professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University. Happer said that he was not familiar with the details of Clemente’s case.
To uncover the alleged scandal, Greenpeace U.K. representatives posed as representatives from fossil fuel companies and struck deals with both professors to publish articles promoting the positive benefits of carbon dioxide.
Representatives of Greenpeace did not respond to requests for comment.
Happer said that Greenpeace targeted him because he was a threat to the organization due to his influence and scientific views of the harmlessness of carbon dioxide.
Greenpeace targeted Happer and Clemente becausethey had previously been linked to fossil fuel companies or climate sceptic organizations that have received fossil fuel funding, according to the details of the investigation published by Greenpeace.
Happer said that he was one of the most effective spokespeople on the benefits of carbon dioxideand knew a lot about climate, carbon dioxide and science.
“I funded a lot of [the science] when I was director of energy research at the Department of Energy, so I know where all the skeletons are,” he said.“So I’m an enormous threat to [Greenpeace], so their need to demonize me, to blacken my reputation in any way they can. And they’re experts at that.”
Happer added that Greenpeace was using totalitarian tactics of stirring up hatred against him and many others.
“This is propaganda, pure and simple,” he said.“It’s the same kind of propaganda that was in the Soviet Union and during the locinco era, the same propaganda that the Nazis spewed out in the 30s. You know, I know propaganda when I see it. I’m one of the few who remembers World War II.”
Greenpeace accused Happer and Clemente of being academics-for-hire, following a series of reports about fossil fuel companies funding flawed research to bury the scientific consensus of climate change.
Happer said that he always believed that carbon dioxide was not a pollutant and that it would be better, especially for plants, if there was more of it in the air.According to the emails exchanged between the undercover Greenpeace investigators and Happer, Happer agreed to write for the fictitious company if it shared his views about the benefits of the gas.
He added that the company was ambiguous about what it wanted him to write.
Happer received most of his funding from the external source of the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research for the studies of the interaction of electromagnetic radiation of matter, according to the emails he exchanged with the Greenpeace investigator. In the email, Happer added that he no longer received this funding as his research laboratory closed down last year.
The Greenpeace investigator, posing as a person named Jonathan Ellis, confirmed that the “client,” a Middle Eastern oil and gas company, had the same beliefs as Happer,according to the emails exchanged between the investigator and Happer.
When ‘Ellis’ offered to pay Happer for his services, Happer asked for the fee to be donated to the CO2Coalition instead.The Coalition,founded earlier this year, attempts to demonstrate the benefits of carbon dioxide through scientific facts.
Happer also disclosed that in August,Peabody Energy donated $8,000 in return for his testimony at aMinnesota State Hearing about the impact of carbon dioxideto the Coalition.
Happer explained that the Coalition did not have a lot of fundsand could use all the support it got.
“I was looking for ways to get some money there, and this seemed like the ideal thing,” he said.“Because you know, if this person was willing to spread my message — I wasn’t sure he was legitimate or not — but I was quite happy to have somebody promote the benefits of CO2. And that was all I was prepared to do.”
Happer said he received an email from a graduate student at the University that accused him of transgressing the ethics of academic freedom and dishonoring the University. The student also added that receiving the funds through an organization that Happer was on the board of was nolessquid pro quothan if he received the funds himself.
According to the details of the investigation published by Greenpeace, Happer agreed to let the source of funding remain a secret.
According to the details of the investigation published by Greenpeace, the academics’ willingness to conceal the source of funding contrasted strongly with the ethics of journals such asScience, which requireclear disclosures from all authors of their affiliations, funding sources and financial holdings upon research manuscript submission.
William O’Keefe, a member of the Board of Directors for the Coalition, said that he was the one who suggested donations through Donors Trust, a nonprofit donor-advised fund based in Virginia.
O’Keefe was included in the email exchange when the conversation turned to sending the money to the Coalition. O'Keefe added that this suggestionwas only made when Ellis insisted that the donations should remain anonymous.
“There was nothing illegal or unethical, and there was certainly nothing that could come close to a bribe,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe noted that one possible explanation for the propaganda arising now was that the timing coincided with Happer’s testimony at theSenate Hearing on Protecting Climate Denialled by U.S. Senator for Texas Ted Cruz ’92. He added that other possible reasons included trying to damage the newly founded Coalition’s credibility and lashing out as the measured temperature changes did not match the extremist models’ predictions.
“Professor Happer is a person of the highest integrity,,” O’Keefe said. “I think that it’s outrageous that any person or organization would attempt to smear a person like [him].”
O’Keefe said that this issue would not affect the Coalition’s identity as the Coalition functioned on facts and honesty and benefited from people asking questions. Happer said that the issue would not affect Cruz or the University either.
“I don’t know why it’s a scandal,” he said.“You know, the people who should be ashamed are Greenpeace and the irresponsible media that is promoting their propaganda.”
Patrick Moore, one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, also reported Greenpeace to the Federal Bureau of Investigation under The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, according to aDec. 8article he published on WUWT, an online global warming and climate change site.
“Greenpeace has made itself the sworn enemy of all life on Earth,” he wrote in the article.
He added that Greenpeace subjected Happer to “a maladroit attempt at entrapment.”
Greenpeace published an official statement on Moore, claiming thatMoore exploited his ties with Greenpeace to sell himself as a speaker and usually took stances that Greenpeace opposed.
“He claims he “saw the light”but what Moore really saw was an opportunity for financial gain.Since then he has gone from defender of the planet to a paidrepresentative of corporate polluters,” the statement read.
Happer said that many students at the University think that they are protecting the planet by supporting Greenpeace, but they are actually harming it. He added that most of the protectors on the planet actually knew nothing about the science of the matter and only acted in accordance with the people around them.
“I think that someday in the future, people are going to write Ph.D. theses about this period of human history in absolute incredulity that so many people were misled for so long,” Happer said.