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Unstoppable disinformation every 15 minutes from Fred Singer

By Joe Romm  

"Unstoppable disinformation every 15 minutes from Fred Singer"

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So a Kansas state House member Larry Powell has sent a copy of Fred Singer’s lame denier treatist, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years to every Kansas legislator. Of course, he sent one to Governor Sebelius, who denied a permit for two large coal-fired power plants in his home county.

medieval.pngSince Climate Progress has been blogging regularly on Kansas (see below and thank you Kari!), Kansas reporter Sarah Kessinger called me Friday for my opinion on Singer’s book and what legislators should do to become informed on climate. The book has been widely debunked, see this post on RealClimate.

The most absurd thing about the book is that … wait for it … the Earth wasn’t actually in a warm trend — unstoppable or otherwise — 1500 years ago! [Yes, during the Medieval Warm Period, parts of the earth were a bit warmer, but that peaked (below current temperatures) 1,000 years ago.] I thought the reporter would like that fact:

“I don’t think there’s anybody in the scientific community who takes Fred Singer seriously,” said Joseph Romm, a Washington scientist and author. Romm said the 1,500-year cycle theory isn’t possible considering the earth wasn’t in a warming trend 1,500 years ago.

Duh! I mean, seriously: Every book contains at least a few small errors, but most real scientists, heck, even most global warming deniers, try to avoid putting egregious factual mistakes in the title of the book. That is a pretty good sign you can skip the contents.

An even better reason to skip the book — in 1998 coathor Fred Singer testified to Congress that “the climate is not warming,” and as recently as November 2003, he wrote in the Financial Times:

The irony is that there is no convincing evidence that the global climate is actually warming.

I kid you not. So four years ago, Singer said the scientific evidence of warming was not compelling. By 2007, he was publishing a book saying that the science clearly shows we are in a natural warming cycle.

Why, why, why traditional media do you keep quoting someone who just keeps making stuff up and contradicting himself as he goes along???

Singer has been an unstoppable industry gun-for-hire for a long, long time — even for the tobacco industry:

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.

That is from DeSmogBlog. Here is more.

True, working for organizations that take money from ExxonMobil doesn’t mean all of your “research” is flawed — but the fact that all of your research is obviously flawed, that you’ll change positions 180° if it suits your funders arguments, does suggest your core beliefs are not based on fact and that you are … let’s be kind and say Romney-esque.

Anyway, I have a theory that Singer’s unending and unstoppable 15 minutes of media fame is tied to the well-known 15-minute sun-spot cycle — wherein every 15 minutes or so, somebody looks up and spots the sun, is temporarily blinded, and loses their cognitive ability to separate fact from nonsense. I challenge anyone to refute that theory without using any facts.

The reporter did ask me what I would suggest legislators read. Hmm. What synthesizing document or summary should policymakers read? Tough one.

If legislators want to inform themselves about global warming, Romm said, they should start by reading the U.N. panel’s reports, which have been written specifically for legislators.

He also suggests they talk with peer-reviewed climate scientists.

“There is no escape from global warming, so even in the middle of the country in places like Kansas, it’s important for people to take the time to become informed,” Romm said. “Because in 10 to 20 years, as consequences become more obvious, it will become a top issue.”

I probably said, “the top issue,” (it’s already “a” top issue) but a good story nonetheless.

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3 Responses to Unstoppable disinformation every 15 minutes from Fred Singer

  1. David B. Benson says:

    Might also want to encourage them to read the Hadley Centre report on estimated regional impacts in 2050 CE. They might, possibly, be a bit concerned about the projected lack of percipitation: drought.

  2. Ronald says:

    I read that book just this last week. (got it from the library) I can’t say anything about most of the detailed climatology stuff, because I don’t know that much of it. From the things that I have read and knew about, the author would only raise questions about stuff, he never answered the questions with what we know is going on. It was a frustrating read, I always wanted to say, OK, keep going, answer the question you brought up with really what’s causing it and so often he wouldn’t. This book won’t be used in a climatology class, I’m sure, except as maybe a test on climate, OK, answer this question from the book that the author doesn’t.

  3. john says:

    Ronald:

    The reason he raised questions but didn’t answer them is because the answers were … inconvenient.

    Questioning others’ assertions is a favorite tactic of the Sophist — particularly when they have no intellectual ammo on their side.

    And Singer has none. He’s a scientist for hire … tobacco, fossil fuel, what’s next for him? The upside of nuclear proliferation?

    I have to echo Joe’s question. Why, when a 2 second Google search yields what a complete morally bankrupt scumbag this guy is, does the press continue to quote him?

    OK, Joe didn’t call him a scumbag or question his morality, but I will.