A climate change denier who once compared the “demonisation” of carbon dioxide to the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany is set to lead a White House panel assessing whether global warning poses a threat to US national security.
Mr Happer, a senior director for the National Security Council and former physics professor at Princeton University, rejects mainstream climate science and has claimed a rise in carbon emissions should be viewed as an asset rather than a problem.
In a 2014, he drew parallels between climate science and Nazi propaganda.
“The demonisation of carbon dioxide is just like the demonisation of the poor Jews under Hitler,” he told US news channel CNBC. “Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”
Mr Happer’s proposed role came to light in a leaked “discussion paper” in which federal officials asked government agencies to weigh in on plans to establish the committee through an executive order.
The memo says that any questions should be directed to Mr Happer who was appointed senior director for emerging technologies on the National Security Council in September.
The 79-year-old's proposed appointment to lead a panel on global warming has been met with dismay among climate scientists.
Kim Cobb, professor in School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said his “false, unscientific notions about climate change represent a danger to the American people”.
David Titley, professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, added that Mr Happer "would be a fringe figure even for climate sceptics."
His colleague Michael Mann, director of the university's Earth System Science Centre, said: “As a Jew I'm deeply offended by his exploitation of the Holocaust as he shills for fossil fuel interests. Happer shouldn't be in charge of a book club let alone a presidential panel on national security.”
According to the discussion paper, the National Security Council would fund and oversee the committee, which would be asked to "address existing United States Government reports on climate for scientific accuracy and advise on the national security implications of climate change”.
The panel of 12 national security and climate "experts" would advise Mr Trump on how the climate "might change in the future under natural and human influences”.
The establishment of the panel under Mr Happer's watch is likely to be seen as attempt by the president to cast doubt on the findings of federal agencies that have warned about the threat of climate change.
For years, government scientists and military leaders have repeatedly highlighted global warning as a major national security risk.
Last month a Pentagon report said nearly half of US military sites worldwide were at risk from extreme weather linked to climate change, while Mr Trump's own intelligence team have cited global warning as a national security threat.
But the president has repeatedy dismissed concerns about climate change, which he once suggested was a "Chinese hoax".
Last month, in an apparent fundamental misunderstanding of science, he suggested cold weather in the US was evidence global warming was not happening.
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