Philosophically more than physically central New Jersey is a long ways from both Washington, D.C., and Trump Tower in Manhattan. But area people are involved in events that relate to the upcoming inauguration activities in the nation’s capital, to the transition planning at the Fifth Avenue home and office of the soon-to-be 45th president, and to ongoing efforts to level the political playing field.

On inauguration day, Friday, January 20, at noon, Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman will not be at the nation’s capital but will join an increasing number of representatives skipping the Trump inauguration. Watson Coleman instead will host an interfaith prayer vigil at Shiloh Baptist Church in Trenton.

“The constituents of the New Jersey’s 12th District [which includes 10 towns in Mercer County and 14 in Middlesex, plus several more from Somerset and Union counties] is a cross section of the many groups and millions of Americans that this incoming Administration has turned its back on. Our nation is founded on democracy and inclusion that unfortunately our president-elect refuses to represent. I can think of no more important place to be than supporting my constituents and renewing my energy to fight for their freedoms,” said Watson Coleman.

At the public interfaith prayer vigil Watson Coleman will be joined by faith leaders, community activists, and residents of the surrounding communities. “This is not a decision I take lightly. The peaceful transition of power is a defining characteristic of our democracy. Inaugurations should serve as a celebration of the best of our nation — a symbol of unity and strength. Unfortunately, it is increasingly clear that President-elect Trump is not just unfit for office, but his actions and promises threaten the very democracy for which we are supposed to gather to celebrate. I simply cannot in good conscience participate.”

On Saturday, January 21, Watson Coleman will also participate in the Women’s March on New Jersey in Trenton, which will complement the nationwide event being held in Washington. Women (and sympathetic men) will gather at the War Memorial at 10 a.m. and then march about a half mile to the State House. The Trenton march is one of 170 “sister marches” around the country.

For information visit www.sites.google.com/view/womensmarchonnewjersey or www.makethemarchcount.com, a website developed by Action Together-Central New Jersey.

PU Climate Denier Visits Trump Tower

Central New Jersey and Princeton in particular, home of several academic departments and nonprofit advocacy groups that have raised many alarms regarding climate change, may be the last place where you would expect to find a scientist supportive of the new president’s view of climate change. Trump has said that the concept of climate change is a “hoax” being perpetuated by the Chinese to rip America off.

But Trump met January 13 with William Happer, a Princeton physics professor and former director of energy research for President George H.W. Bush, who believes global warming is “good for mankind.” Happer testified before the Senate in 2015 that the “benefits that more CO2 brings from increased agricultural yields and modest warming far outweigh any harm.”

In a May 30, 2012, U.S. 1 cover story on climate change research at Princeton University, Professor Happer was the one skeptic the paper was able to find. The paper printed the following sidebar under the title, “A Skeptic’s View.”

The Princeton faculty includes one prominent global warming skeptic. In a March 27 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Princeton physics professor William Happer asked “What is happening to global temperatures in reality? The answer is: almost nothing for more than 10 years.” He added that “the lack of any statistically significant warming for over a decade has made it more difficult for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its supporters to demonize the atmospheric gas CO2 which is released when fossil fuels are burned.”

Happer concluded: “It is easy to be confused about climate, because we are constantly being warned about the horrible things that will happen or are already happening as a result of mankind’s use of fossil fuels. But these ominous predictions are based on computer models. It is important to distinguish between what the climate is actually doing and what computer models predict. The observed response of the climate to more CO2 is not in good agreement with model predictions.”

Climate Central science writer Michael D. Lemonick responded to a comment from a website visitor, asking why Climate Central rarely covered challenges from the global warming skeptics.

Lemonick responded that “when people like Princeton physicist Will Happer lays out his critique of climate science in the Wall Street Journal or the eminent British scientist James Lovelock . . . says to MSNBC that he was ‘alarmist’ about climate change . . . it would be foolish just to assume they’re wrong because a majority of professional climatologists disagrees with them — even though the odds suggest they are.

“But sometimes outsiders say things that truly make no sense … Take statements by Professors Lovelock and Happer about the fact that warming has been fairly flat for the past decade or so, which it has. This, they both suggest, refutes the claims of mainstream climatologists that the temperature should have continued to rise.

“The thing is, nobody made such claims in the first place. Climate scientists have always acknowledged that natural variations would slow the warming during some periods and speed it up in others. Suggesting otherwise is simply incorrect — and people trumpeting the ‘failure’ of a prediction nobody ever made isn’t news in my book.”

Reporting on the January 13 meeting with Trump, a Huffington Post article said it was uncertain whether Trump was considering Happer for an administration position. Happer did return an e-mail from Paul Mulshine, the conservative columnist for the Star-Ledger, and said he could not comment immediately but “maybe in a week or two after Mr. Trump makes some personnel decisions.”

#b#Wang Expands Role Vs. Gerrymandering#/b#

As reported in U.S. 1 on November 9, the day after the presidential election, Princeton professor Sam Wang has developed a statistical test that he believes can identify congressional districts that have been gerrymandered to favor one party over another. On January 17 Wang announced on his website, election.princeton.edu, that the anti-gerrymandering effort was moving into high gear:

“I will take my work on partisan gerrymandering to a new level. I am now looking for fulltime help for the next one to two years.

“As many readers know, I have developed simple statistical standards to define partisan gerrymandering. These standards are designed to be consistent with existing Supreme Court precedent, and avoid statutory and Constitutional landmines that other standards may hit. Representationally, this project may lead to a net change of dozens of House and other legislative seats. Cases are now percolating through courts in Wisconsin, Maryland, and North Carolina.

“Without getting into the details, I will say that our work will be unique, and is highly likely to be deployed as an argument in these cases.”

The effort also has its own website: Gerrymander.princeton.edu.

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