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Reply to RealClimate’s Attacks on the NIPCC Climate Report

December 19, 2008
By Joseph L. Bast and James M. Taylor

On November 28, the global warming alarmist Web site “RealClimate” posted a ridiculously lame attack by Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt against “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate,” the summary for policymakers of the

On November 28, the global warming alarmist Web site “RealClimate” posted a ridiculously lame attack by Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt against “Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate,” the summary for policymakers of the 2008 report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).

The NIPCC report was written by S. Fred Singer, Ph.D. and an additional 23 contributors, including some of the most accomplished atmospheric scientists in the world. The paper references approximately 200 published papers and scientific reports in support of its conclusions. It provides strong evidence that human activity is not causing a global warming crisis.

Mann and Schmidt call the NIPCC report “dishonest” and “nonsense,” a document “served up” by “S. Fred Singer and his merry band of contrarian luminaries (financed by the notorious ‘Heartland Institute’).” But instead of critiquing the scientific arguments presented in the NIPCC report, Mann and Schmidt simply dismiss and belittle them and refer readers mostly to their own past blog comments. Time spent following those links reveals a hodgepodge of opinions and superficial comments, a boatload of rhetoric, and very little science--an entirely unsatisfactory way to support such serious charges.

The reference to financing seems intended to imply that the authors of the NIPCC report were paid by The Heartland Institute, which is not true. RealClimate has been informed of this, but hasn’t corrected its false claim. To go on implying it anyway tells you all you need to know about the integrity of the RealClimate authors.

And what about “the notorious ‘Heartland Institute’”? It’s a 24-year-old national nonprofit organization that gets 95 percent of its funding from non-energy-related donors and 84 percent of its funding from non-corporate sources (in 2007). It has a long history of publishing reliable scientific and economic analysis of global warming. Heartland’s credibility is certainly less questionable than that of RealClimate, a front group created specifically to attack global warming skeptics by Fenton Communications, a truly “notorious” PR agency.

Mann and Schmidt’s assault on Fred Singer reminds us of Canadian environmentalist Lawrence Solomon’s observation, in his book The Deniers, that the qualifications of most alarmists in the global warming debate fall short of those of the skeptics. Consider only the first few paragraphs of Singer’s resume:

Dr. S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric and space physicist, is one of the world’s most respected and widely published experts on climate. Dr. Singer served as professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA (1971-94); distinguished research professor at the Institute for Space Science and Technology, Gainesville, FL (1989-94); chief scientist, U.S. Department of Transportation (1987-89); vice chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Oceans and Atmosphere (NACOA) (1981-86); deputy assistant administrator for policy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970-71); deputy assistant secretary for water quality and research, U.S. Department of the Interior (1967-70); founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences, University of Miami (1964-67); first director of the National Weather Satellite Service (1962-64); and director of the Center for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Maryland (1953-62).

Dr. Singer did his undergraduate work in electrical engineering at Ohio State University and holds a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University.

Dr. Singer has published more than 200 technical papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including EOS: Transactions of the AGU, Journal of Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, Science, Nature, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Geophysical Research Letters, and International Journal of Climatology. His editorial essays and articles have appeared in Cosmos, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New Republic, Newsweek, Journal of Commerce, Washington Times, Washington Post, and many other publications. His accomplishments have been featured in front-cover stories appearing in Time, Life, and U.S. News & World Report.


Now consider Mann’s and Schmidt’s qualifications. Mann is the author of the “hockey stick” temperature graph that did so much to fuel global warming hysteria when it was featured in an IPCC report, but which a Congressionally appointed panel of experts found was not supported by scientific data. Gavin Schmidt is a climate modeler at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and in recent weeks has been frantically trying to explain why his organization falsely reported that October 2008 was the warmest October in recorded history. Many climate researchers believe Mann and Schmidt are deliberately falsifying temperature data to keep their global warming scare going a few more years.

With no apparent sense of irony or shame, these two discredited authors call one of the world’s leading scientists “dishonest.”

Mann and Schmidt pretend to be engaged in a scientific debate over global warming, but they are not. They have banned global warming “skeptics” from posting on their blog, resort to ad hominem attacks against anyone who dissents, and have repeatedly declined invitations to appear in public forums to debate their critics. They are what the history of their organization says they are: A PR shop for discredited global warming alarmism.

Persons interested in understanding the real science of global warming can find it at Heartland’s Global Warming Facts Web site or at any of the many other sites linked on that site, or by attending the 2009 International Conference on Climate Change, taking place in New York on March 8-10, 2009.


Joseph Bast (jbast@heartland.org) is president and James M. Taylor (jtaylor@heartland.org) is a senior fellow of environment policy at The Heartland Institute.

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