Infamous Oregon Global Warming Petition Alive and Well

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Yesterday we came across this post on DailyKos about a University professor who recently received a package from a PO Box in La Jolla, CA, asking him to sign a petition denying global warming and condemning the Kyoto Protocol.

The package included an official looking research study titled “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” by Dr. Fred Seitz (a gentleman we know all too well here at DeSmogBlog).

It seems that either this Professor has not picked up his mail in a long while, or the infamous “Oregon Petition” effort has resurfaced.

Below is a quick background and some helpful links to the history of the Oregon Petition. If you've also received one of these packages, please let me know it would be great to get a hold of one.

Background on the Oregon Petition

The Oregon Petition has been used by climate change deniers as proof that there is no scientific consensus, however they fail to note the controversy surrounding the petition itself.

The Oregon Petition was initiated by an individual named Art Robinson in April 1998 under the auspices of Robinson's so-called “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.” [picture above] Along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, Robinson and his Institute published the infamous “Oregon Petition” claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.

The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science . They weren’t, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented.

Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz a notorious climate change denier (and former tobacco company scientist), who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science. Also attached to the petition was an apparent “research paper” titled: “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.” The paper was made to mimic what a research paper would look like in the National Academy’s prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal.

The authors of the paper were Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both oil-backed scientists) and Robinson’s son Zachary. With the signature of a former NAS president and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.

The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating that: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.”

Oregon petition and big tobacco
It’s interesting to note that Fred Sietz, the author of the cover letter is also the former medical advisor to RJ Reynolds medical research program. A 1989 Philip Morris memo stated that Seitz was: “quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.” However, 9 years later, it seems that he was “sufficiently rational” to lead the charge on Robinson’s Oregon Petition. It also seems that Seitz is still “sufficiently rational” to sit as the Chair of notorious climate change denier, Fred Singer’s, Science and Environmental Policy Project.

Oregon Petition and the Spice Girls
According to the May, '98 Associated Press article , the Oregon petition included names that were intentionally placed to prove the invalid methodology with which the names of scientists were collected. The petition included the names of “Drs. 'Frank Burns' 'Honeycutt' and 'Pierce' from the hit-show M*A*S*H and Spice Girls, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell, who was on the petition as 'Dr. Geri Halliwel' and again as simply 'Dr. Halliwell.' ” Of the fake names, Robinson is quoted as saying: “When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way of filtering out a fake.”

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the bizarre antics of the deniers, the more astonished I am that ANYbody takes them seriously at all. This sounds like some farcical sideshow or teenagers’ prank. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, given the behaviour of people like Tim Ball, who seem to imagine that no one will bother to actually check his background or point out the howling contradictions in his pronouncements.

I went to the OISM site & it’s quite brazen, claiming the paper is “Peer Reviewed”. Real Climate is doing something fun with it – I cut this from their blog at

“Since this is a rehash of the previous paper plus a few more cherry-picked statistics of dubious relevance, instead of tediously going through the whole thing ourselves, we are going to try something new - an open source debunking.

“… we’ve set up a Wiki to provide a one stop shop for articles debunking some of the worst climate contrarian pseudo-science. So, we’ve therefore set up a page for the new OISM paper, and what we’d like to do here is to start collecting material on this paper.”

So there you are! It’s open season on the “Oregon Institute of Science and Malarkey”

You know - I came to this site in a genuine search for information - truth if you like - on Global Warming. I have carefully read what has been said here about the “deniers”. I have been looking for real evidence. I sadly recognise the derogatory language used - I can’t see any scientific argument. You have turned this debate into a personality “hate” campaign. The tactic of smear and innuendo debases. I only have to ask myself which side is the most polite, the most thoughtful and the most objective. Hands down - your petulant attacks and lack of rational argument really does lose it for you. Are you one of the Governmental appointees to the IPCC?

follow the science. There are many sources of good solid information out there, not blogs for people intent on bashing the science (and/or each other). Here are a few. Good luck.

for beginners:

more technical:

How dishonest of you, CCC. There is much serious discussion here, and many links for people who honestly want to learn more about a topic and are not too lazy to check them out.

Politeness is much over-rated. What is more important is to look objectively at the evidence and to accept what it tells you, whether or not it offends your political or religious beliefs.

What I find bizarre, other than your ill informed view, is the fact that man made climate change believers have very recently and suddenly grabbed hold of the “feedback” argument to explain away the fact that temperature increase leads carbon dioxide increase by hundreds of years.
Correct me if I am wrong (I can assure you I am not), but even a first year physics undergraduate would recognise the fact that, for feedback to be created, there has to be an initial force causing it.
This would mean that, in order for the believers to be correct, carbon dioxide increases would have to initially lead temperature increases, create a feedback loop, thus causing temperature to overtake and lead carbon dioxide increases.
In every case ever recorded and from ice core sampling we find that temperature increases have always led carbon dioxide increases by a country mile.
There is no “feedback”. It would be impossible under these circumstances and ridiculous to suggest otherwise. The argument is pure fantasy. Spouted by individuals who have put a lot of time, money and effort into a man made global warming theory, only to suddenly realise they have based their career on an incorrect assumption. Just as many climate scientists of the seventies based their careers on the incorrect assumption that we were heading for an ice age! Yes, that’s correct! An ice age! Anyone remember that drivel? Does anybody think someone in such a predicament would easily give up their livelihood and funding? I think not.
Come on people, it’s time to wake up. You’re being taken for a green tax ride.
The Met office has issued findings that the globe is actually going to COOL this year (2008). I bet the IPCC aren’t going to like that!
Watch this space, I guarantee that within two months the IPCC will be trying to suggest that, somehow, the new cooling trend could be explained by global warming too!
Incidentally, for anyone who didn’t realise, the IPCC came into being during all the “Ice Age” pontificating in the seventies. They were spectacularly wrong then.
Is it so hard to believe that they are wrong once again?

is that the deniers make no distinction between naturally occurring CO2 and the release of stored CO2 in fossil fuels. Of course it is accepted that in the past, increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has trailed warming. No problem. There weren’t vested interests and oil companies back then to make a mess of things. The situation now is quite different. Human beings have been consuming fossil fuels that have stored CO2 for a couple of BILLION years within the span of a few hundred, and have created an unprecedented surge. We have imposed an artificial impact on a natural system. Our sheer numbers, our unfettered access to fossil fuel power sources and our self-absorbed devotion to “Progress” whatever “TF” that is, has altered the natural order of things.

Now go back and google the ice age scare of the 1970s and my guess is that you will find a bunch of references in op-ed pieces, but very few in the actual scientific literature. By far the more frequent subject was and is this issue of rising temperatures.

Fern Mackenzie

CGC, to put it in little words; CO2 is not the only thing that can cause global warming. What started it was a Milankovich cycle which led to higher albedo and more CO2 being released, which led to more warming.

Here’s a simple explanation:

And a more detailed one:

As for your remark: “The Met office has issued findings that the globe is actually going to COOL this year (2008).” This is because of La Nina. Look it up. It is not a sign of global cooling.

I wish you trolls would stop coming up with this stupid, lame, ignorant argument and learn the difference between weather and climate.

Why did I even bother? Climate IS the weather you ignorant half-wit. They go hand in hand. The Met office are not made up of BBC weather men. they are climateologists and meteorologists. They predict a global cooling trend. La nina is a regular weather cycle. We have seen it’s effects many times before, but NEVER in the last 100 years have we seen a winter like China has witnessed during this particular La Nina. Are you a secondary school geography student?
I have had enough of the ramblings of some idiots here. A Milankovich cycle IS the feedback process I have already described. Since people here don’t seem able or inclined to use actual scientific terms, then replies need to be simplified. The fact remains, that for a milankovich cycle to begin, the initial rise would have to be in CO2 levels for the believers to be correct. It was not. It never has been. This is a recent theory devised to shore up the inadequate defences of the IPCC’s previous ramblings. It has no scientific justification as a reason for man made global warming. The theory is fundamentally flawed. They have misrepresented what is needed to cause such a cycle of events. Please understand that CO2 would STILL have to have initially risen before temperatures in order for feedback to occur in the manner that is claimed by the IPCC. No matter how much you protest, VJ, the fact is that it hasn’t happened. It makes no difference how much faster we have spewed out CO2 in the last 100 years. CO2 that had been locked away permanently as the believers argue. Wasn’t the CO2 in volcanoes locked away. They have consistently outdone our efforts.
On the topic of the level of scientific interest in the ice age scare of the seventies: Just to reiterate, the IPCC was founded in order to raise climate awareness so that we could combat a global cooling. They have turned tail within 20 years. That smacks of incompetance to say the least. They don’t know what causes global warming. Nobody does. The science to enable us to prove it does not exist yet. The general consensus amongst climateologists in the seventies, was that it was inevitable we would see an ice age relatively soon. I don’t know where you get your information from but I can assure you, I was there, it was almost as rediculous as the warming argument we have at the moment but less ordinary people cared.

I will try to educate you a little. A Milankovich cycle is not a feedback, it is the tilting of the earth so that certain parts receive more sunlight at certain times. CO2 does not make the earth tilt.

As for the difference between climate and weather; weather is what happened in a specific place in one day or one season or one year; climate is what the weather usually does in a specific place over many years. Cold weather in China this winter was merely weather, not proof of climate change. If it should be colder in China repeatedly over many years, that would be an indication of climate change.

As wiki puts it:

Climate is the average and variations of weather in a region over long periods of time.

I was in university in the 1970s and scientists were not claiming that an ice age was inevitable. Your claim is not true. Nor is the incoherent claim you seem to be making that volcanoes produce more CO2 than humans. They don’t.

A couple of points. The petition was first circulated in 1998 (not 1999).

The formatting of the “review” article like a PNAS article is even more insidious, because Fred Seitz wrote the cover letter (past president of NAS). These points were mentioned separately, but the dots need to be connected. To anyone who was not on the ball, it really might appear that the NAS was explicitly endorsing the petition.

They claim that most of the disputed names really are real people (the Spice girl is a notable exception). They also claim that the names have now been “independently” verified. Someone with journalistic clout should ask what independent organization/firm actually did the verification, because I suspect their definition of “indpendent” is “Me, myself, and I.”

Art Robinson to clarify a whole bunch of things and have not heard back, I’ll email him again today with further question.

BTW, here’s the email address if anyone else wants to ask questions: [email protected]

“Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” by ARTHUR B. ROBINSON, NOAH E. ROBINSON, AND WILLIE SOON is linked to by the who claim in their ‘Mission’ that:
..,We will not include any news or information with sensationalist claims; only sources with sound scientific evidence or research will be used.

Oh - that kind of sound science or research!

It seems like ClimatePolice who claimed that this mérde du dénégation is a heavily researched paper with accurate citations have a drastically different view of the truth.