Fred Singer/Winnipeg Free Press: Two "Institutions" in Decline

Denier-for-hire Fred Singer has enriched himself defending everything from CFCs to second-hand smoke, parlaying his fame as a promising young scientist in the 1950s and '60s to more recent infamy as an all-purpose front man for environmentally suspect industries. Alas, it appears that he has become so well-known in the U.S. that his bursts of disinformation no longer attract attention from major media outlets south of the border.

Lucky for Fred that faltering organs like the Winnipeg Free Press either don't check people's credentials or don't mind buying opinion pieces from “scientists” whose opinions have been paid for, already. The article in this link is a tired compilation of distractions and non sequiturs - bland, irrelevant or outright inaccurate statements dismissing the threats of global warming as “a new environmentalist fad, like the Alar apple scare or the 'new Ice Age' fears of the 1970s.”

As has been pointed out to Singer (and to any reporter who has been paying attention in the last five years), the current situation is nothing at all like the mid-'70s report by a couple of outlier scientists that an ice age “might” be in the offing. We now have overwhelming agreement among reputable scientists (i.e., those known for their science, not for the payments that they take from the energy industry) that the issue we currently face is unprecedented in human history. That's why every major nation on earth has read and approved the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That's why even the quibblers, like George Bush and Stephen Harper, have acknowledged a problem and claimed - however unconvincingly - that they are determined to help fix it.

Against this scientific reality, the fading Free Press finds it appropriate to present the tainted Dr. Singer as an expert, as something other than a public relations shill, peddling a product and hiding his sources of funding.

We know that Singer is beyond shame. It's disappointing to find that a once-admirable newspaper like the “Freep” has sunk to that standard.


While I agree with your comments about singer himself, this article in the free press was actually fairly well stated and accepting with most of the scientific understanding of climate like that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, that it has indeed increased due to human activities etc. More to the point the denier in chief doesnt ramble into the hoax, religion or associated nonsense that people like our favorite folks around here do. Singer does perhaps tap into a couple things that I do chuckle about. He speaks of complexity of the climate system but then leaves out those complexities in making his argument. Note to singer, cooling in the 40’s occured at a time when human released aersols were at their highest but again just that alone is likely an over simplification of complexity. In any event science is complicated, try physiology, biochemistry, molecular gentics or quantum physics…..anyways I wonder if the “The Independent Institute” is truely what its name says it is.

The WFP makes me embarrased to live in Winnipeg. They have a history of printing articles from the lunatic fringe of the denial movement without even attempting to balance it out with other views.

A friend of mine writes for the paper, and has said that the editorial board thinks that climate change is a crock. Apparently one member in particular takes great pleasure at pulling any denialist articles he can off the wires and printing them.

I’ve seriously considered cancelling my subscription over their views on climate change. But the only other paper in town is even worse.

Er, that should be “embarrassed”.

I’m embarrassed by my poor spelling today…

Here is the text of a letter I sent to the Free Press about Singer’s piece of trash:

“Editor, Winnipeg Free Press,

S. Fred Singer’s article (Dec. 6) was chock full of the typical disinformation and blatant misconceptions which are so prevalent among the climate change “denier” crowd (who also receive thousands of dollars from the fossil fuel industry). For this reason, it is very disturbing to see that the Free Press chose to pick it up, as many people without prior education in the science of climate change may be taught what is scientifically inaccurate and what has been refuted (sometimes even decades ago) in the scientific literature. There are so many errors in Singer’s piece of brainwashing that it is difficult to decide where to start.

First of all, Singer’s assertion that taking measures to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) would cripple the economy is false. A study cited by Sen. John McCain (a Republican, I might add) found that investing in R&D in clean technology would result in the addition of 800,000 jobs to the crippled American manufacturing sector.

Secondly, Singer lays the blame for the recent warming on water vapour. He is correct in saying water vapour is the most powerful GHG. However, he claims there is a negative feedback with respect to carbon dioxide, that as water vapour concentrations increase, the influence of CO2 is reduced. This is physically inaccurate, as when CO2 concentrations increase, atmospheric temperatures respond with warming (and not the other way around as Singer alleges). This results in a higher moisture capacity in the air and, therefore, increases evaporation, which increases water vapour concentrations, leading to even greater warming. Therefore, this is a positive feedback.

Singer also callously calls Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth a “propaganda instrument.” This is false, as most climate scientists have actually endorsed the film and have no major disagreements with the content. Gore, after all, just translates what the consensus position is among climatologists from scientific verbiage to language the general public can comprehend.

There are many more errors in Singer’s piece, but it is impossible to fit them all in within a single Letter to the Editor.

Stephen Berg
Winnipeg, MB