Fred Singer : biography
During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, he argued that smoke from the Kuwaiti oil fires would have little impact, in opposition to most commentators. He debated the astronomer Carl Sagan on ABC’s Nightline, Sagan arguing that the smoke might loft into the upper atmosphere and lead to massive agricultural failures. Singer argued that it would rise to then be rained out after a few days."First Israeli scud fatalities oil fires in Kuwait", Nightline, ABC News, January 22, 1991. Singer’s position proved correct: the fires had little impact beyond the Gulf region.The Washington Times. "When advocacy beclouds science," June 2, 1993; The Washington Times. "Mr. Gore in the balance," March 2, 1994; Michael, Patrick J. Sound and fury: the science and politics of global warming. 1992.
The public debates in which Singer has received most criticism have been about second-hand smoke and global warming. He has questioned the link between second-hand smoke and lung cancer, and has been an outspoken opponent of the mainstream scientific view on climate change; he argues there is no evidence that increases in carbon dioxide produced by human beings is causing global warming and that the temperature of the earth has always varied. A CBC Fifth Estate documentary in 2006 linked these two debates, naming Singer as a scientist who has acted as a consultant to industry in both areas, either directly or through a public relations firm. Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway named Singer in their book, Merchants of Doubt, as one of three contrarian physicists—along with Fred Seitz and Bill Nierenberg—who regularly injected themselves into the public debate about contentious scientific issues, positioning themselves as skeptics, their views gaining traction because the media gives them equal time out of a sense of fairness.Brown, Seth. , USA Today, May 31, 2010.
According to David Biello and John Pavlus in Scientific American, Singer is best known for his denial of the health risks of passive smoking.Biello, David and Pavlus, John. , Scientific American, March 18, 2008. He was involved in 1994 as writer and reviewer of a report on the issue by the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, where he was a senior fellow.Singer, S. Fred and Jeffreys, Kent. , courtesy of the University of California, San Francisco, see page 18 for the authors, undated, accessed May 18, 2010. A prepublication draft of the report was archived in the files of Walter Woodson, Vice President-Public Affairs of the Tobacco Institute: (accessed Dec. 26 2012). Interestingly, when the report was released by the de Tocqueville institution as the first chapter of the report Science, Economics, and Environmental Policy: A Critical Examination, Singer’s credit was changed from lead author to "reviewer."
- For the final version of the report, see , Alexis de Tocqueville Institution, August 11, 1994, accessed Dec. 26 2012 The report criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their 1993 study about the cancer risks of passive smoking, calling it "junk science". Singer told CBC’s The Fifth Estate in 2006 that he stood by the position that the EPA had "cooked the data" to show that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer. CBC said that tobacco money had paid for Singer’s research and for his promotion of it, and that it was organized by APCO. Singer told CBC it made no difference where the money came from. "They don’t carry a note on a dollar bill saying ‘This comes from the tobacco industry,’" he said. "In any case I was not aware of it, and I didn’t ask APCO where they get their money. That’s not my business.", The Fifth Estate, CBC, November 15, 2006, updated October 24, 2007, 16:01–16:35 mins.
- Also see Singer, S. Fred. , Washington Times, February 11, 1996. In December 2010 he wrote in American Thinker that he is nonsmoker who finds second-hand smoke an unpleasant irritant that cannot be healthy; he also wrote that his father, a heavy smoker, died of emphysema when relatively young. According to Singer, he serves on the advisory board of an anti-smoking organization, and has never been paid by Philip Morris or the tobacco lobby.Singer, S. Fred. , American Thinker, December 19, 2010.