Several posts ago, I reproduced a few emails to and from well-known climate skeptic Fred Singer.

Since then, I’ve had a few other exchanges emailed to me. They give great insight into how skeptics work the system to promote their view.

Here’s the best one:

To: John Marburger, Science Advisor to the President
From: Fred Singer

Dear Jack

  1. Is this story accurate?
  2. And if so, are you basing yr statement on the IPCC summary — or do you have other evidence you might be willing to share?

Thanks
Fred

BUSH AIDE SAYS WARMING MAN-MADE
BBC News, 14 September 2007
By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News

The US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact.

Professor John Marburger, who advises President Bush, said it was more than 90% certain that greenhouse gas emissions from mankind are to blame.

The Earth may become “unliveable” without cuts in CO2 output, he said, but he labelled targets for curbing temperature rise as “arbitrary”.

His comments come shortly before major meetings on climate change at the UN and the Washington White House.

There may still be some members of the White House team who are not completely convinced about climate change — but it is clear that the science advisor to the President and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy is not one of them.

In the starkest warning from the White House so far about the dangers ahead, Professor Marburger told the BBC that climate change was unequivocal, with mankind more than 90% likely to blame.

S. Fred Singer, President
Science & Environmental Policy Project
1600 S. Eads St, #712-S
Arlington, VA 22202-2907
Tel: 703/920-2744
http://www.sepp.org

Amazingly, Marburger emailed Fred back. Does he have nothing better to do?

To: Fred Singer
From: John Marburger, Science Advisor to the President

Dear Fred,

The story is pretty accurate. I meant to convey the conclusions of the IPCC — not more than that. In subsequent interviews I have said I regretted using the word “unlivable” because it lends itself to exaggeration and misinterpretation. All the other remarks are straight out of the IPCC Summary Report.

I think the IPCC technical report is useful and I don’t have reason to doubt its findings. And I think the summary does a pretty good job of capturing the underlying technical report.

The important points are

  1. As far as we know today, CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere indefinitely and in the long run this will cause problems, but
  2. The “problems” are difficult to characterize, beyond acidification of the top layer of the ocean and increases in global annual average surface temperature, and we don’t know how long the “long run” is.
  3. The climate is changing and we are going to have to live with it.

The rational thing to do is work on technologies that will reduce and eventually eliminate CO2 accumulation. There are other reasons to do this.

I reject the notion of imminent “tipping points” and any scientific basis for what “dangerous” means.

I also reject oversimplifications of the complex phenomenon of climate and human interaction with it. The large uncertainties in human behavior and physical mechanisms argue for caution in drawing conclusions about the future, but they do not justify dismissal of well-verified phenomena and features of climate simulations based on known physical laws.

Best regards,
Jack

This is a surprisingly reasonable view. Fred, of course, was not to be dissuaded. He quickly shot back:

To: John Marburger, Science Advisor to the President
From: Fred Singer

Dear Jack

I appreciate both yr prompt reply and yr detailed explanation. Many people not familiar with the technical details do indeed accept the IPCC’s summary.

However, you should be aware that a substantial number of climate scientists do not accept the IPCC conclusions and are quite willing to debate the issue.

For example, the MIT Club of Washington has organized a grand debate on Global Warming, stretching over 6 evenings at the Kenwood Country Club. Unfortunately, the format is sequential, which precludes a point-counterpoint discussion. [AD: see this post]

My turn is on Dec 11. I will expand on the memo I just sent to the chairman of the AGU Panel preparing a Statement on GW for the AGU Council (see attached)

I would be pleased to spend a few minutes with you to show you the graphs, many from CCSP report 1.1. I don’t believe that anyone in the White House is familiar with the details of this report — in spite of the huge amounts of money ($18 billion) that have been spent on this Climate Change Science Program.

Best
Fred

This shows pretty clearly how skeptics like Fred operate, and why they’re so valuable to those opposed to action.

The arguments, like the claim that a substantial number of climate scientists do not accept the IPCC conclusions, are ridiculous.

Nonetheless, if the person approached is predisposed to be suspicious of the consensus view of global warming, this kind of thing can still be effective.