Science and Environmental Policy Project

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Science and Environmental Policy Project was founded by Fred Singer in 1989 and incorporated as a Foundation-funded, independent research group in 1992, “to advance environment and health policies through sound science. SEPP is a non-profit, education organization”[1] It was started an as affiliate to the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, which is part of the Rev Sun Myung Moon’s Unification church, although it is no longer affiliated to it.[2]

Singer, a former government scientist, has become one of the world’s leading and most quoted climate sceptics. Singer has also attacked other issues such as ozone depletion, acid rain, automobile emissions and whaling.

Rachels Environment and Health Weekly argues that: “Singer is himself one of the fringe scientists who appeared as a witness (as did Michaels) at the 1995 Congressional ozone hearing …. During the hearing, Singer tried to establish his ozone credentials by claiming to have published several peer-reviewed papers in which he presented his current theories about why the continent-sized ozone hole over the South Pole isn't a problem. However, when Congressional staff checked his references, they found that Singer's only published work on ozone depletion during the past 20 years had been one letter to the editor of SCIENCE magazine, and two articles in magazines that are not peer reviewed." [3]

He has also worked with the Independent Institute, The Hoover Institution, The Heritage Foundation, and The Brookings Institution, among others.[4] He has also appeared on behalf of the fossil-fuel Global Climate Coalition, along with Robert Balling and Patrick Michaels. [5] Indeed in 1995 Singer appeared at a one day conference organised by Atlas in Hong Kong along with another sceptic Michael Formento, then of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and author of Science under Siege. Singer’s talk was called “Science and Myth in Global Warming and Ozone Depletion.” [6]

Singer has also debunked global warming along with Patrick Michaels at press conference organised by the Wise Use group, Consumer Alert. Singer and Robert Balling have also spoken at Wise Use conferences. [7]

Singer was also on the Advisory board of TASCC, along with other known “Sceptics”, Bruce Ames (on SEPP’s board), Dr. Patrick Michaels, Michael Sanera, and Hugh Ellsaesser[8]. He is also on the Advisory board of the corporate front groups ACSH.[9] He appeared along with a whole host of anti-greens on the programme Against Nature, broadcast on Channel 4 in 1997[10]. The programme was linked to the Revolutionary Communist Party / Living Marxism activists, which drew the wrath of the Independent Television Commission for having "misled" participants and "distorted" their views via selective editing[11]. Many of these activists have now resurrected themselves in new guises in the anti-green backlash.

Funding

The project started in 1990 and was underwritten by $55000 grant from the Bradley Foundation [8] , a private, independent grant making organisation based in Milwaukee that is, “committed to preserving and defending the tradition of free representative government and private enterprise,” and believes that, “the good society is a free society,” [9] complimenting the SEPP disagreement with government backed environmental regulation on industry and private enterprise.

The project has an annual budget of $100,000 and receives no funding from the Environmental Protection Agency or other federal agencies, [10] The SEPP website claims the project does not receive support from governments or industry but rather charitable foundations and individuals, with donations reaching up to $10,000. [11]

In March 2001, Ross Gelspan, the author of the Heat is On wrote that “The most widely quoted sceptic, S. Fred Singer, denied receiving oil industry money in a February letter to The Washington Post. But in 1998 ExxonMobil gave $10,000 to Singer's institute, the Science and Environmental Policy Project, and $65,000 to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, which shared building space with SEPP. Says Atlas' website, "For those who believe public policy should be based on sound science, Dr. Singer offers a wealth of information, credibility and encouragement [12]

Singer now admits he has worked as a consultant for Exxon, Shell, Unocal, Sun Oil, and ARCO, GE, Ford, and GM.[13] SEPP has received some $20,000 from Exxon since 1998.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag The SEPP website claims, “for the past three years Exxon has sent a no-strings $10,000 donation. We are happy to get it.” [14]

It was also revealed by Ross Gelbspan in his book ‘The Heat Is On’ that Dr Singer consulted for five oil companies, Exxon Mobile, Shell, ARCO, Unocal and Sun Oil although the SEPP deny any funding from these organisations apart from the previously mentioned Exxon donations. [15] David McKnight in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2nd August, 2008, argues Oil companies approach to climate change mirrors that of tobacco companies in the mid 20th Century that tried to cast doubt on the science that claimed tobacco was bad for human health rather than try to prove tobacco was harmless. In 2005 Exxon Mobile spent US $3million funding 39 groups that "misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence that greenhouse gases are driving climate change.” [16] After a stakeholder revolt, Exxon ceased funding to nine climate-denial groups. [17]

The most controversial claims regarding funding is through links to the Unification Church, a right wing group created by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon who believes he is the new messiah, informed by God when he was 16. [18] SEPP deny any claims of financial support from the Unification Church but are open that Singer presented scientific papers at the International Conference on the Unity of Sciences which was underwritten by the Unification Church who subsequently asked for the papers to be published as a book and, “paid a small fee to do so.” [19] However Robert Wright in ‘The New Republic’ 6th November 1995 notes Dr Singers revelation to ABC news in 1994 that SEPP received free office space for a year from a group funded by Moon. [20] In addition Singer often defends his connection to Moon through others selling articles to his magazine ‘The World and I’. Singer however is on the executive board of this magazine. [21]

Board of Directors

  • Frederick Seitz - (Chairman), president of The Rockefeller University (1968-78), on the board of the Wise Use Group the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and the George C Marshall Institute as well as used to be on the Science Advisory board of TASSC.
  • Charles Gelman - is the founder, and former chairman and chief executive officer, of Gelman Sciences, Inc. Supporter of the web-site that supports controversial conservative journalist John Stossel - supportjohnstossel.org web-site. Along with the National Center for Public Policy Research; Political Economy Research Center; Tom DeGregori; Dr. C.S. Prakash; Steve Milloy, Junkscience.com; Free-Market.net; MissLiberty.com; Consumer Alert; counterprotest.net; Competitive Enterprise Institute; Michael Fumento; overlawyered.com and People for the USA[15]
  • David L. Hill - president and chief executive officer of the Patent Enforcement Fund, Inc. in Southport, Connecticut, a privately held company that pursues licensing for infringed technological patents.

S. Fred Singer

SEPP Board of Science Advisors

Ames is also a contributor to the book called “Fearing Food - Risk, Health and Environment”, edited by Julian Morris and Roger Bate, at the time from the right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs in London (see below). Other contributors included Dennis Avery from the Hudson Institute, and Lynn Scarlett from the Reason Foundation, amongst others[17].

Issues

Singer on climate: “Computer models forecast rapidly rising global temperatures, but data from weather satellites and balloon instruments show no warming whatsoever[24]”

Singer on Ozone: Although environmental pressure groups have made exaggerated claims that the stratospheric ozone layer is being eaten away by chlorofluorocarbons (most notably Freon) wafting into space, scientists have yet to see any increase of solar ultraviolet radiation at the Earth's surface[25]

The “New on the SEPP website” includes articles from known right-wing / sceptics such as Steven Milloy, Steven Hayward; Paul Driessen; Paul Reiter; Bjorn Lomborg; Iain Murray; Sallie Baliunas; Ross McKitrick; William O'Keefe; Ronald Bailey; James Glassman; Christopher C. Horner; Myron Ebell; Sherwood and Keith, Idso and Richard Lindzen to name a few[26].

The website also lists four “Declarations” on climate: the Heidelberg Appeal from 1992, the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists on Greenhouse Warming signed the same year; Singer’s own Leipzig declaration from 1997 and the Oregon Petition, circulated by Frederick Seitz, the Chair of the Board of SEPP in 1998.

Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber from PR Watch have analysed the petitions. They are that the Heidelberg Appeal “has been enthusiastically embraced by proponents of ‘sound science’ such as Steven Milloy and Elizabeth Whelan and is frequently cited as proof that scientists reject not only the theory of global warming but also a host of other environmental health risks … the only problems is that the Heidelberg Appeal makes no mention whatsoever of global warming … it is simply a brief statement supporting rationality and science.”

The Leipzig Declaration emerged from a conference, "The Greenhouse Controversy," cosponsored by The Science & Environmental Policy Project and the European Academy for Environmental Affairs in Leipzig, Germany, in November 1995. The statement was revised in 1997 and currently has more than 140 endorsements from climate scientists, with more coming in.[27]

Of Singer’s own Leipzig Declaration they say that “it has been cited by Singer himself in editorial columns appearing in hundreds of conservative websites and major publications”. However when journalist David Olinger of the St.Petersberg Times investigated the Declaration “he discovered that most of its signers have not dealt with climate issues at all and one of them is an acknowledged leading expert.”[28]

Contact

  • Address: The Science & Environmental Policy Project, 1600 South Eads Street, Suite #712-S, Arlington, VA 22202-2907
  • Web Address: http://www.sepp.org/

Notes

  1. Fred Singer
  2. http://www.unification.net/activities/washinst.html; Rowell (1996) Green Backlash –Global Subversion of the Environment Movement, Routledge, p139-143; S. Rampton & J. Stauber (2001) Trust Us, We’re Experts, How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Yours Future, Tarcher / Putnam, p272-274
  3. [1]
  4. Fred Singer
  5. PR Newswire (1992) “World's Energy Policy Should Not Be Based On Feelings, Experts Say”, 27 February.
  6. [2]
  7. A. Rowell (1996) Green Backlash –Global Subversion of the Environment Movement, Routledge, p139-143.
  8. SEPP Key Issues Science and Environmental Policy Project, accessed 14/4/2010
  9. The Bradley Foundation The Bradley Foundation Website The Bradley Foundation, accessed 19/4/2010
  10. SEPP Key Issues Science and Environmental Policy Project, accessed 14/4/2010
  11. SEPP SEPP Website The Science and Environmental Policy Project, Accessed 20/4/2010
  12. Ross Gelspan, Heat is On"
  13. SEPP Key Issues Science and Environmental Policy Project, accessed 14/4/2010
  14. SEPP Key Issues The Science and Environmental Policy Project, accessed 21/4/2010
  15. SEPP Key Issues Science and Environmental Policy Project, accessed 21/4/2010
  16. David McKnight, The Sydney Morning Herald, 2nd August 2008, accessed 19/4/2010
  17. David McKnight [link needed], The Sydney Morning Herald, 2nd August 2008, Accessed 19/4/2010
  18. David Streitfield The House that Moon Built The Washington Post, January 21, 1990, Accessed 17/4/2010
  19. SEPP Key Issues Science and Environmental Policy Project, Accessed 17/4/2010
  20. Robert Wright The New Republic The New Republic, November 6 1995, Accessed 18/4/2010
  21. Robert Wright The New Republic The New Republic, November 6 1995, Accessed 18/4/2010

Notes