Fred Singer


Fred Singer : biography

September 27, 1924 –

1967: Department of Interior and EPA

In 1967 he accepted the position of deputy assistant secretary with the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he was in charge of water quality and research. When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was created on 1970, he became its deputy assistant administrator of policy.

1971–1994 University of Virginia

Singer accepted a professorship in Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia in 1971, a position he held until 1994, where he taught classes on environmental issues such as ozone depletion, acid rain, climate change, population growth, and public policy issues related to oil and energy. In 1987 he took up a two-year post as chief scientist at the Department of Transportation, and in 1989 joined the Institute of Space Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida where he contributed to a paper on the results from the Interplanetary Dust Experiment using data from the Long Duration Exposure Facility satellite. When he retired from Virginia in 1994, he became Distinguished Research Professor at the Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University until 2000., Science & Environmental Policy Project, accessed May 13, 2010.

Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway say that Singer was involved in the Reagan administration’s efforts to prevent regulatory action to reduce acid rain.Oreskes, Naomi and Erik M. Conway, "Chapter 3: Sowing the Seeds of Doubt," in Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010: p66-106.


Singer has worked as a consultant for several government agencies, including the House Select Committee on Space, NASA, the Government Accountability Office, the National Science Foundation, the United States Atomic Energy Commission, National Research Council, the Department of Defense Strategic Defense Initiative, Department of Energy Nuclear Waste Panel, and the Department of the Treasury. Other clients have included the states of Virginia, Alaska, and Pennsylvania. In the private sector he has worked for Mitre Corp., GE, Ford, General Motors; during the late 1970s Singer consulted with Exxon, Shell, Unocal Sun Oil, and ARCO on oil pricing; and Lockheed Martin, Martin–Marietta, McDonnell-Douglas, ANSER, and IBM on space research. He has also advised the Independent Institute, the American Council on Science and Health, and Frontiers of Freedom., accessed May 15, 2010.

  • , American Council on Science and Health, May 15, 2008, accessed May 15, 2010;
  • , December 15, 2003, accessed May 15, 2010.

Public debates


Throughout his academic career Singer has written frequently in the mainstream press, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, often striking up positions that go against mainstream thinking. His overall position one of distrust of federal regulations and a faith in the free market. He believes in what Rachel White Scheuering calls "free market environmentalism": that market principles and incentives should be sufficient to lead to the protection of the environment and conservation of resources. Regular themes in his articles have been energy, oil embargoes, OPEC, Iran, and rising prices. Throughout the 1970s, for example, he downplayed the idea of an energy crisis and said it was largely a media event., Scientific & Environmental Protection Project, accessed May 18, 2010. In several papers in the 1990s and 2000s he struck up other positions against the mainstream, questioning the link between UV-B and melanoma rates, and that between CFCs and stratospheric ozone loss.

In October 1967, Singer wrote an article for The Washington Post from the perspective of 2007. His predictions included that planets had been explored but not colonized, and although rockets had become more powerful they had not replaced aircraft and ramjet vehicles. None of the fundamental laws of physics had been overturned. There was increased reliance on the electronic computer and data processor; the most exciting development was the increase in human intellect by direct electronic storage of information in the brain—the coupling of the brain to an external computer, thereby gaining direct access to an information library.Singer, S. Fred. , The Washington Post, October 1, 1967.