Harrison Schmitt

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Harrison Schmitt is a former NASA astronaut and engineer and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Schmitt was also the Chairman and President of the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy between 1994 and 1998, and remains "Chairman Emeritus."[1] He was formerly listed as a member of the Board of Directors of the Heartland Institute.[2] He was reportedly the next-to-last person to walk on the moon and is credited with taking the iconic "Blue Marble" photograph of the earth from space.[3]

Climate Change Skeptic

Schmitt is a climate change skeptic who does not believe that "the human effect [of climate change] is significant compared to the natural effect." He also contends that climate change skeptics "are being intimidated" if they disagree with the idea that burning fossil fuels has increased carbon dioxide levels, temperatures and sea levels.[4] Schmitt spoke at the International Conference on Climate Change (2009), hosted by the conservative think tank, the Heartland Institute. His critics point out that his affiliation with the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, an organization that received more than $860,000 in funding from oil giant ExxonMobil in 1998, somewhat discredits his statements about climate change. [1] He is also a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists[5], one of the last scientific organizations to accept the tenets of global warming.

In 2009 Harrison Schmitt submitted a paper to NASA which claimed the Earth was cooling. It included the claim that Arctic sea ice had returned to 1989 levels of coverage. It has been widely debunked as evidential cherry picking.[6] [7]

"In Defense of Carbon Dioxide"

In a two author op-ed piece featured in the Wall Street Journal entitled "In Defense of Carbon Dioxide", Harrison Schmitt and William Happer make the case that excess carbon dioxide is not bringing about detrimental climate change but is in fact necessary and beneficial. The authors criticize global warming theories as they relate to carbon dioxide, stating, "Thanks to the single-minded demonization of this natural and essential atmospheric gas by advocates of government control of energy production, the conventional wisdom about carbon dioxide is that it is a dangerous pollutant." The authors follow with their take on how to interpret scientific evidence on the matter, concluding, "There isn't the slightest evidence that more carbon dioxide has caused more extreme weather."[8]

As a direct response to the claims made and scientific evidence used in this piece, Media Matters for America, a progressive nonprofit watchdog group, published a specific response addressing several points posited in the op-ed. Beginning with a reference to Schmitt and Happer as "authors with no peer-reviewed papers on the topic and ties to groups funded by the oil industry," Media Matters presents contrary evidence to the information in the op-ed, citing work by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NASA, the World Bank, the National Research Council, Smithsonian Magazine, the New York Times, Skeptical Science, and several other scientists and academics.[9] This response goes on to expose the authors' history, illustrating their lack of peer-reviewed research on the topic and their ties to the oil industry. Media Matters' profile on Schmitt highlights his former position as Director at the oil industry-funded Heartland Institute. Happer's profile identifies his status as current chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute, a recipient of funding from the oil industry as well as the Koch brothers.

Jack Williams, the director of the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research and geography professor from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where Schmitt serves as an adjunct professor, also responded critically to the piece. "I think they're ignoring the scientific evidence," Williams posits, "...it's a bit of a one-sided perspective on the effects of CO2."[10]

Harrison Schmitt- cherrypicking


"Artic (sic) sea ice has returned to 1989 levels of coverage,"[11]

"Natural warming is clearly happening but there is absolutely no evidence, no observational evidence whatsoever that the increase in carbon dioxide that has been measured in the last fifty years has had anything to do with that"[12]

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mitchell Anderson, Former Astronaut in Bed with Big Oil?, Desmogblog.com, February 17, 2009.
  2. Heartland Institute, Board of Directors, organizational website, accessed April 2011.
  3. Lee Roop, Harrison Schmitt remembers standing on the moon, a story he'll tell in Huntsville next month, Alabama.com, November 30, 2012.
  4. Fox News Online, Ex-Astronaut: Global Warming is Bunk, February 16, 2009.
  5. NASA, Biographical Data, organizational website, Accessed May 16, 2013.
  6. John Cook, Articgate: perpetuating the myth that Arctic sea ice has recovered, Skeptical Science, February 7, 2011.
  7. Richard Littlemore,"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation: Incompetent or Dishonest - Either Way They're Wrong, Desmog Blog, February 7, 2011.
  8. Harrison H. Schmitt and William Happer, In Defense of Carbon Dioxide, Wall Street Journal - Opinion, May 8, 2013.
  9. Shauna Theel, Wall Street Journal's Idiocracy: CO2 Is What Plants Crave, Media Matters for America, May 9, 2013.
  10. Steven Elbow, UW Adjunct Prof Pens an Op-ed Denying Effects of Carbon Dioxide, Cap Times, May 15, 2013.
  11. Harrison Schmitt, Observations Necessary for Useful Global Climate Models, NASA Technical Documents, Page 5, 2009.
  12. Alex Jones TV, NASA Astronaut Harrison Schmitt on Alex Jones Tv 1/4:Man-Made Global Warming Hoax!, 1 min 44 sec, Interview, August 31, 2009.

External resources

"ArticGate" - Heartland Backs Schmitt in Climate Misinformation http://www.desmogblog.com/articgate-heartland-backs-schmitt-climate-misinformation

External articles



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