Opinions, it has been said, are like a certain part of our anatomy associated with elimination - everybody has one. That, I suppose, might explain the bizarre testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee last week by Physicist, Dr. William Happer of Princeton University. Happer offered the opinion that we are actually in a CO2 famine - compared with Earth's atmosphere of 80 million years ago - and that increased CO2 emissions would actually be good for mankind.
Happer's testimony, part of which you can see below, drew an incredulous response from the committee's chairwoman, Senator Barbara Boxer who said, "I don't even know how to say this, but a lot has happened since then," before noting that conditions on Earth 80 million years ago were probably not something we would find particularly pleasant today. Boxer later noted that Happer is Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, which receives a large part of its funding from Exxon. Hmmmmm.
Happer claims that Earth, during the Pleistocene era (which was actually from 1.8 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago - NOT 80 million years ago) had many times more CO2 in the atmosphere than it does now, and that, as a result, the planet prospered.
In fact, CO2 levels in the Pleistocene - the period when the the planet was much colder and glaciers reached their furthest limit - were roughly 200 ppm (parts per million). Today's atmospheric CO2 level is about 386 ppm.
80 million years ago, by contrast, during the Cretaceous Period, when CO2 levels were 3.7 to 14.7 times the modern pre-industrial value of 285 ppm, the climate was very hot. Ice sheets had melted and sea levels were 120m higher than today. This map, published last year in the journal, Science, shows what the world would look like today with sea levels similar to those of 80 million years ago. The dark blue areas would be completely under water.
Perhaps Dr. Happer would prefer it that way, but I suspect most of us would not.