Fred Singer

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Please note, this page has been archived since 2011 and will not be updated. 

Professor S. Fred Singer is a professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and one of the world's most widely quoted climate change sceptics. Rolling Stone magazine has called Singer "the granddaddy of fake 'science' designed to debunk global warming."

Singer has given testimony to the US senate on climate change science and appeared in the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, contributed to British newspapers and appeared on the BBC. He also speaks at conferences organised by climate sceptics.

In 2009, he told The Daily Telegraph, "We are certainly putting more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere… However there is no evidence that this high CO2 is making a detectable difference. It should in principle, however the atmosphere is very complicated and one cannot simply argue that just because CO2 is a greenhouse gas it causes warming."

According to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Singer has worked for at least 11 ExxonMobil funded thinktanks including The George C. Marshall Institute, The Cato Institute and The Heritage Foundation. His organisation, SEPP, has received funding from Exxon. The website Climate Progress has called him an "unstoppable industry gun-for-hire."

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway in their 2010 book Merchants of Doubt claims Singer is one of a loose-knit group of scientists which, motivated by the ideology of the free market, have contributed to disinformation campaigns about the science behind different issues including the ozone hole, global warming, DDT and acid rain.

Singer was trained as an atmospheric physicist and received a PhD from Princeton University in 1948. He has designed weapons for the US military, was a pioneer in the development of rocket and satellite technology and received numerous awards. He became professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia in 1971. After his retirement in 1994 he became a professor at the Institute of Humane Studies at Mason University and focused much of his energy on opposing the scientific consensus on climate change.

Singer set up the 'Science and Environmental Policy Project' (SEPP) in 1990. SEPP concentrates on arguing against the existence of climate change and against measures intended to tackle climate change.

Singer has taken up positions contrary to mainstream thinking on many different issues. He still argues today that there is no link between CFCs and the depletion of the ozone layer. In 1994 he was one of the authors of a report published by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution which questioned the links between passive smoking and cancer.

Documents available on the web show that the Institution asked for $20,000 from the Tobacco Institute for writing such a paper. In 2006 Singer told an American CBC documentary that he stood by the position that the EPA had "cooked the data" to show that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.

In 1995 SEPP and Singer assisting in setting up the Leipzeg Declaration which stated that there is no scientific consensus on climate change. An investigation by a Danish journalist in 1997 into the 33 European signatories of the declaration found that four of them could not be located, 12 denied ehver having signed and some had not even heard of the Leipzig Declaration. Signees included 25 television weathermen. Those who did confirm they had signed included a medical doctor, a nuclear scientist and an expert on flying insects.

The widely quoted assertion that "555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich have been growing since 1980" was traced to the SEPP website. SEPP had initially stated that the figure was sourced from a Science paper in 1989. However in response to enquiries Singer admitted that the statement "appears to be incorrect and has been updated." The statement was repeated in publications around the world and was used in a letter to New Scientist by British celebrity TV naturalist David Bellamy to justify his climate sceptic views.

Singer is the author or editor of several books opposing the mainstream view on climate change science including 'Global Effects of Environmental Pollution' (1970), The 'Ocean in Human Affairs' (1989), 'Global Climate Change' (1989), 'The Greenhouse Debate Continued' (1992), and 'Hot Talk, Cold Science' (1997). He has also co-authored 'Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years' (2007).

Climate scientist Dr David Archer from the University of Chicago has rebutted some of Singer's more frequently used arguments on the website