No apology is owed Dr. S. Fred Singer, and none will be forthcoming

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On Sunday, June 18, the DeSmogBlog received an email from Dr. S. Fred Singer, in which he says, “Yr (sic) June 16 blog contains the false statement that I sold my services to tobacco lobbyists.”

Dr. Singer goes on to “demand a full retraction and apology from the blog,” and he asks that we publish the following statement: “Dr. Singer and SEPP (Science & Environmental Policy Project) have no connection whatsoever with the tobacco industry, now or in the past. As a matter of policy, SEPP does not solicit funds or other kinds of support from any industry or from government, but relies on tax-deductible donations from foundations and individuals in many countries. Further, Dr. Singer serves on the Advisory Board of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), an organization that has a strong anti-smoking position.”

We have no comment on the ACSH, but Dr. Singer’s main point – that he has “no connection whatsoever with the tobacco industry, now or in the past” – strains credulity.

For example, here is the link to a memo in which an official from the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution solicits $20,000 from the Tobacco Institute for the preparation of a “research” paper challenging the health effects of second-hand smoke, and suggesting that Dr. Singer be retained to write the report. Here is the link to a letter thanking the Tobacco Institute for $20,000 intended “to support our research and education projects.” Here is a research paper, just as described in the earlier memo, with Dr. Singer’s name as the author. And here is another Tobacco Institute memo, reporting on Dr. Singer’s appearance with two Congressional Representatives releasing the paper to the media.

More to the point, for a blog about the dubious public relations tactics being used to skew the climate change debate, is Dr. Singer’s previous statements about his involvement with the oil industry.

For example, on Feb. 21, 2001, Dr. Singer wrote to the Washington Post, saying: “As for full disclosure: My résumé clearly states that I consulted for several oil companies on the subject of oil pricing, some 20 years ago, after publishing a monograph on the subject. “My connection to oil during the past decade is as a Wesson Fellow at the Hoover Institution; the Wesson money derives from salad oil.” At the time that Dr. Singer wrote this letter, ExxonMobil was listing him on their website as a recipient of US $10,000 in direct funding and as a participant in an event to which ExMo contributed $65,000. Our colleague Ross Gelbspan reported all this in The Nation in an article that can be found here.

This is a stark illustration of what we are up against in the climate change “debate.” On one hand you have the world's most accomplished and reputable scientists - more than 2,000 of whom have submitted research to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - carefully weighing every pronouncement for accuracy and subjecting all of their research to peer-review before announcing it publicly. These people agree, unreservedly, that climate change is happening and is caused by human activity.

On the other hand, you have a huge and expensive public relations campaign denying that scientific consensus. This campaign is largely financed with money from energy companies like ExxonMobil, which is then lightly laundered through “think tanks” like the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution or the Competitive Enterprise Institute or through industry front groups like Dr. Singer's own Science & Environmental Policy Project. The money is then passed along to “experts” like Dr. Singer, who seems happy enough to be paid for his services, even if he is reticent to admit it after the fact.

There should be no doubt in this conversation where the weight of credibility lies.

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The big problem is laziness. People don’t have the attention spans to devote to actually hearing out someone who advocates the opinion, supported by a formidable ladder of facts, that climate change is a crisis and it is happening its our fault. S. Fred Singer is implicated in perpetrating the opposite view in spite of a tight consensus in the scientific community. There is no time to take Singer seriously, but since everyone craves to be in denial, Singer makes it possible that action may happen only before it is too late. S Fred Singer, like everyone else, is in need of an income and funding. But it looks like he’s glomming at the big cash without a care for who might be harmed, which is everyone including his grandchildren and great granchildren whenever they come around. I’m a writer. Yeah, I accept payment for writing that props up a highly capitalist industry and I don’t write enough about the topic of climate change and what might be done about it. I do need the income, and it’s a small income that I combine with my full time job to support a wife who is studying to become a medical technologist. There’s more I could do and I have to work to change what I write about. At least though, I don’t care if what I say might cause the deaths and displacement of millions. I think what might console Singer is the idea that, if not him, someone else might have been commissioned to perpetrate the same lies. Singer, responsibility falls on who takes the job. You’re getting paid to lie about global warming and for that you will stand before God - and you will have to answer for the lives of thousands and perhaps millions that will suffer because of the stalling and delaying and dilly-dallying on the part of governments that your damned lies have made possible! So read! read what people have to say about you! Maybe you’ll change your mind and maybe then, if it’s soon enough to make a difference, forgiveness will be yours.

It’s kind of interesting. When the AdT report came out Singer was listed as Senior Reviewer and for years denied that he wrote the report, but in his letter he appears to have retreated from that claim. Of course, the entire thing is bogus, as the AdT report made many other claims about environmental smoke.

In an interview broadcast on ABC (Australia) on 26th Feb 2007, Singer was asked about his financial connections to various groups such as tobacco and fuel lobbies. His reply was “I don’t know where the funding comes from and I don’t care”. He can’t have it both ways; he can’t claim ignorance of the source of the funding then object when others ascertain it.

Are you guys really saying that there is no funding bias in the environmental activist side of the question? That no funding goes to scientists who toe the mark on the environmental side? Please don’t tell me that there is no money to be made by touting the environmentalist agenda. Cut me some slack. For decades, environmentalists have worked feverishly to create hysteria over shadows and have manipulated the facts and outright lied about so many things that your credibility has been destroyed. The problems are real but the people screaming the loudest are the least believable people in the discussion. When you are credible, maybe you will have credibility.

Discrediting a person does not discredit the scientific data. Fred Singer even has many fine quotes on the nature of scientific philosophy and predictive models which any scientist should find quite agreeable. Character attacks, discussions of conflict of interest and the like only serve to increase anxiety on the subject. Focus in this issue should be on three things: #1. What does the scientific data indicate as to the nature and rate of global warming? Fred Singer agrees it’s happening, but not at the extreme and disastrous rates predicted by certain computer models. The data is the actual news - it’s what’s happening, and everything else can be considered interpretation. #2. How accurate are the predictive models? Do they in fact agree with what is currently going on, and how do they achieve this agreement? Are the approximations appropriate, or are there fudge factors leading to arbitrary changes? Do they take into account solar and orbital influences? Do they accurately model clouds, interfaces, cooling, winds, ocean currents? What are the ranges of results that are produced? How much do the fluctuations vary? If the focus is on CO2, how do they model inevitable changes to things other than CO2? #3. Scientific consensus is only as good as the scientist. The vast majority of people, including scientists out of their field, are laypersons on the subject. It doesn’t matter if the scientists agree. Only if the data and the models agree for the right reasons (not by coincidence) is the scientific theory considered acceptable.

Who cares where the money comes from. Debate the science and research, not the funding. Otherwise the validity of GW proponents should be condemned because they accept money from governments, the most wasteful and ignorant organizations on our planet. If Singer is wrong, demonstrate that. What caused all of the warming and cooling periods on earth - long before human influence or industrial emissions -with as high or higher temperatures than today? And why did humans and animals survive all of these variations if it’s so catastrophic. That there is consensus regarding the human influence on GW is not true: Khilyuk and Chilingar (2006), reviewed by 53 leading scientists at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Southern California wrote: “human induced climatic changes in global warming are negligible”. In April 2006, 60 climatologists and scientists wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister to refute ”measurable human impact to climate change”. Last November more than 12,000 environmental scientists and practitioners participated in a survey conducted by the National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP). 41percent of the participants disagreed with the theory that our planet’s recent warmth “can be, in large part, attributed to human activity”. That’s 5,033 professionals who agree with Singer. Arguments for human induced global warming are model based. To date, all climate models produced since 1980 have failed to achieve their predictions. That’s not surprising, these same computers can’t accurately reproduce our past weather, let alone predict future climate. So the question isn’t whether GW is actually happening, rather is it caused by humans or is it part of a natural pattern. Check out the IPCC recent 5 year report. previous predictions halved and reduced by 33%. It will get better once the actual report is released in May for peer review. Lastly, the original IPCC GW model was based on the now debunked hockey stick theory. Not very sound science in my opinion.

“Who cares where the money comes from.” Well done Ron, you trashed your credibility in the first seven words. If you cannot see that big money from big tobacco and big oil corrupt the scientific debate, then what hope is there for you in avoiding the label: fool? Rohan

Last November more than 12,000 environmental scientists and practitioners participated in a survey conducted by the National Registry of Environmental Professionals (NREP). 41percent of the participants disagreed with the theory that our planet’s recent warmth “can be, in large part, attributed to human activity”. That’s 5,033 professionals who agree with Singer.

This is dishonest.
Firstly, only 793 out of the 12,000 NERP members responded to the survey

Secondly, the figure you quote of 41percent is a derived figure from the reported:
“59 percent respond that current climactic activity exceeding norms calibrated by over 100 years of weather data collection can be, in large part, attributed to human activity”.
So you are counting all the don’t knows, or didn’t respond, to that question as disagreeing. Why don’t you just quote what the survey report says?

Well, to become a member of the NREP doesn’t require any special education, or even particular knowledge.

Touting it as some authority on climate change really isn’t credible. Who knows who has membership in the NREP, or what their mandate is viz-a-viz climate change.

I mean, questions on the “exam” include things like if you have 27 parts per billion = parts per million … and then they give you the answer!

The rest of the application process is just self-reporting along with a nice check to the organizers.

Folks - If anyone bothred reading the paper in question, it clearly focuses on the questionable science created by the EPA’s apparent claims without evidence. Singer’s paper advocates getting data to support claims, nothing more. Is there anyone left who is able to read the words on the paper, rather than the script in their closing mind?

Your saying that enviromentalists lie and lie, but show no evidence to back your claim.
Further more you don’t demonstrate what the profit is to the environmental side of the issue as opposed to the big oil companies.
Finally you use the term “Environmental agenda” as though the agenda of a clean earth is that evil.

What are you talking about! Where is Al Gore! He will not debate Singer, Monckton or Spencer! Next, the APS fraudently claimed Monckton’s paper was not scientifically reviewed, dumb bell! In addition, the profit to the environmental side is through all of the alternative energy companies. Look where Al Gore, Pickens and Nancy Pelosi’s monies are at, dumb bell! And we call it the “environmental agenda” because it is an agenda. The Democrats want to create a tax on carbon, and look into Barbara Boxer’s dealings if you want to know more. I do not doubt that CO2 is bad in some ways but it does not heat the earth. I’d like to see someone talk about little things we can all do, like turning off the water in the shower while your putting soap on yourself.

Good work!

Although the link to Gelbspan didn’t complete when I tried it, the docs other links took me to showed that Singer did take money, apparently from tobacco think tanks, for studies on tobacco designed to exonerate it.

One handwritten note I saw had the tobacco exec suggesting a “social costs” line that Singer should take in the study.

To be fair, this guy called called him “very impressive.”

Certainly makes it sound as if Singer’s views were very flexible.

Whatever the cash called for. 

Isn’t there a word for that?  

Good work!

Although the link to Gelbspan didn’t complete when I tried it, the docs other links took me to showed that Singer did take money, apparently from tobacco think tanks, for studies on tobacco designed to exonerate it.

One handwritten note I saw had the tobacco exec suggesting a “social costs” line that Singer should take in the study.

To be fair, this guy called called him “very impressive.”

Certainly makes it sound as if Singer’s views were very flexible.

Whatever the cash called for. 

Isn’t there a word for that?  

What IF Fred Singer’s interpretation of the data is correct??? What if science prooves Singer right and EPA wrong? What if …..

“…….. During the last 15 years, epidemiologic studies have been conducted on the association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and lung cancer. Several authors and regulatory agencies have concluded that a causal link has been established [e.g., see (1-3)], whereas some authors consider that bias and confounding factors constitute a plausible explanation for the observed association [e.g., see (4)]. The available studies are-in most cases-too small to adequately assess the magnitude of the effect and to address specific aspects, such as the shape of the dose-response relationship, the effect of cessation of exposure, the importance of multiple sources of ETS exposure, and the interaction of ETS exposure with other risk factors of lung cancer. …….”

From a study (Oct 1998) heavily funded by several European governments and governmental organisations:

And: Are you all too lazy to go through the arguments, epidemiological statistics, studies? Do it and you will be surprised.

Just like he was wrong when he proclaimed that the glaciers were not retreating.

But the real dinger is that it doesn’t matter whether a guy like Fred Singer is wrong or not - he is doing his job of confusing the public regardless (unfortunately), because most people don’t understand what he’s really about.

By the way you present some pretty old research there (10 years old). Currently the medical concensus is that there is no safe level of ETS exposure.

Thanks to jerks like Fred Singer, progress in preventing smoking has been delayed by decades.

The same could be said for the “scientist” on the GW side.  They receive large government grants to study the problem.  If the problem is not really a problem, their meal ticket disappears.  Regarding the IPCC report, 2000 scientist did sign on, but 17,000 scientist signed and sent a dissenting opinion.  There has never been an honest debate, those who advance the theory of global warming simply put those who dissent into the camp of crackpots or say that they have been bought off.  There is plenty of evidence to refute GW for those willing to look, but it’s hard to find as it is not politically correct.

Why does eveyone seem to think that we should only do something about GW IF it is our fault? I believe that putting a trillion or so tons of a 100 year persistant, cumulative greenhouse gas into the atmosphere is probably a bad idea if we’re already on a warming trend. But the really big debate is why have we stuck with fossil fuels for so long when, used as prescribed, cause cancer, oil addiction, fuel wars, and fund an arms race. Renewable/sustainable energy is more reliable, cleaner, less expensive over the long run, and fosters independance from our friends the oil gaints. If GW were completely removed from the debate, there are still overwhelming reasons to go green. Again the debate is muddied by those who stand to gain from inaction. For year the debate was ‘is this happening?’ so now we know, yep, it’s happening. So the debate has turned into ‘Is it OUR fault?’ I mean really, who cares? Lets do something about it! Why do we continue to build a fossil fuel infrastructure that is kiling us, costing ever increasing dollars, and won’t be good for much in 50 years? I’d rather my kid inherit my LED light bulbs and solar panels, not an oil furnace and asthma. WAKE UP!!!!

“…But the really big debate is why have we stuck with fossil fuels for so long when, used as prescribed, cause cancer, oil addiction, fuel wars, and fund an arms race. Renewable/sustainable energy is more reliable, cleaner, less expensive over the long run, and fosters independance from our friends the oil gaints…”


I recycle. I set the thermostat low in the winter, and high in the summer. I drive an economical automobile, yet… Please, kindly explain the connection between fossil fuels and arms race. Oh, by the way, which form of renewable energy is less expensive than fossil fuels? I know of none currently available that in the short or long run truly is. If an energy source were more financially sound than fossil fuels, our free market economy would have pick it up and ran with it. It would probably be the oil companies who would pioneer this unnamed technology to continue happily making money…

So we have two competing conspiracy theories then: The standard one is that big oil (in a similar way to big tobacco) has used its big money to promote denialism and stymie effective responses to climate change in a situation where it is obvious that these ecological responses would tend to harm big oil’s bottom line. Anonymous however proposes an alternative conspiracy: The majority of the world’s scientists have climbed aboard a gravy train called “lets pretend global warming is a realty and that it threatens our way of life”. I am truly impressed! Not only have these scientist-conspirators managed to fake glacial melts (etc etc) they have done so without any EVIDENCE that they are engaged in a conspiracy! … This is quite unlike the “standard conspiracy”, for which there is plenty of evidence.

Rohan, let me ask you. Why do the deepening glaciers and the dropping temperatures in Antarctica not influence the global warming question? Some places, glaciers are advancing. Other places, glaciers are receding. But only the receding glaciers are important. And since the climate has been fluctuating since there was a climate, why are you so certain that we are now the determing factor in climate change and that we can change things significantly enough to make much difference? And how drastically are you willing to change in order to accomplish your goal? If we could change things by reverting to 2nd century technology, are you ready to do it? And what if only half the world is willing to go along? Shall have the world be in the 2nd century while the other half lives in the 21st century?

Hey guys, read the article in Newsweek about Global Warming and Fred Singer and his company. It’s also about Exxon and other wonderful companies trying to deny what is happening. What is going to happen to my children when they finally arrive in this world? My grandchildren? Their children?! I’m only 21 and I have so much life to live. I’m getting married next weekend, I’m going to graduate college and I’m going to have a family. Then they are going to have a family but if that family is in danger for the future, I’m ready to fight NOW!

Global Warming caused by humans is not a theory of science. It is a fact! Stop denying it and do something about it! Today about 20 states are above 100 degrees. Check the weather.

People can try to justify their feelings about issues by trashing those who oppose them, but it doesn’t change the facts. Singer has been 100% correct in his predictions (i.e. - debating Sagan on the potential effects of the Kuwaiti Oil Field Fires, etc). Singer deals in facts (actual data, not opinion). Scientific consensus on any issue means nothing. Science is not determined by consensus. In fact, every scientific discovery or breakthrough has been made by individuals swimming against the current of consensus. If “scientific consensus” supported Singer’s views, it would have no more validity that it does supporting the idea that man can significantly affect the environment. If a supposed scientist is challenged on his views and responds with the defense that “the majority of scientists agree with me”, then that person is no scientist. Opinions are irrelevant. No prediction has ever come true. Singer is probably being maligned because he threatens the billion dollar global warmimg scam.

I just have a couple of comments about this last post. I feel it is very dangerous to discredit the entire scientific community in favor of one scientist, credible or not. Also, it is not as if the “current” has been GW is a reality and we are the cause. If any analogy is appropriate, it is that for decades, the popular scientific opinion has been that of Singer, that people could not possible have so large an impact on the environment as to cause GW. With evidence, much as was the case when we were in a geocentric model and switched to a heliocentric model, scientists began accepting that we are in fact capable of such climate changes. I just wanted to keep everyone straight in this argument. Let’s be careful when trying to support our opinions and feelings on a topic not to bring it somewhere ugly. Let’s do our best to back up what we say with sources and facts that can be checked and recited.

How do I begin this, I wonder? Over the years I have gone back and forth in my thinking about global warming, but, though I believe in environmental safeguards and conservation, and all that, I’m not so cock-sure that man is the cause of global warming at all. I read an article in The Nation by Alexander Cockburn entitled “Is Global Warming a Sin?” In it, this “leftist” writer goes against the whole “greenhouse establishment” line generally, though not specifically, endorsed by that magazine’s editors. His back-up expert is a Dr. Martin Herzberg who is a combustion research scientist and was a U.S. Navy meteorologist. After reading it, and thinking about it a bit, I decided ‘Wait, hold it a minute. Perhaps I should get off the GW (not George Dubya) bandwagon, and take another look.’ My own degree is a 4-year degree in Geography, and it really does seem that “greenhouser scientists” (all these labels!) go off the deep end in predicting how much of a disaster global warming is going to be in not so very many years. Well, I guess what I’m trying to say, folks, is let’s not get into the routine practice of slandering an individual’s character, and look at the facts as they come to light, objectively. I think this whole subject has become way too highly politicized, perhaps like just about everything else in this skewered society. But I think this really is an issue for the scientists, not Rush Limbaugh vs. Al Gore. Sheesh!

And a few days ago, Anne Marie, the last commercial apple orchard in the town I live in had temperatures in the twenties, and lost their entire crop! Do you think that proves anything for the future? Man’s causing global warming has not been proven, though there are certainly a lot of other things that your children will have to deal with. I say “Cork the stork!”

I have news for Mike. While some of us are enjoying ALL the advantages of living in the 21st century, there are many others whose living conditions are sub-standard enough that someone from the 2nd century might feel quite at home among them. However, they might also notice a greater amount of despair.