S. Fred Singer, physicist and influential climate change denier, dies at 95

The physicist S. Fred Singer died on April 6, 2020, at the age of 95, according to Politico (April 8, 2020). Singer was one of the "merchants of doubt" identified by NCSE board member Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway in their Merchants of Doubt (2010): a handful of scientists who "joined forces with think tanks and private corporations to challenge scientific evidence on a host of contemporary issues" including tobacco, the Strategic Defense Initiative, acid rain, ozone depletion, and, of course, climate change.

Starting around 1990, Singer wrote and spoke extensively about what he claimed was the shakiness of the scientific consensus on climate change as well as the supposedly disastrous economic damage of curtailing the use of fossil fuels. As late as 2018, for example, he contributed a column entitled "The Sea is Rising, but Not Because of Climate Change" to the Wall Street Journal (May 28, 2018); Climate Feedback's panel of climate scientists described his column as "contradicted by a wealth of data and research," adding that "modern research utilizing all available data clearly indicates that sea level rise has accelerated, and is unambiguously the result of human-caused global warming" (emphasis in original). Singer also launched a number of climate-change-denial initiatives—such as the Science & Environmental Policy Project in 1990, the Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change in 1995, and the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change in 2003, which have enjoyed the financial support of the fossil fuel industry—and was deeply entrenched in the climate change denial community. His books on the topic included Unstoppable Global Warming (coauthored with Dennis T. Avery, 2006).

Singer was born in Vienna, Austria, on September 27, 1924. He emigrated to Britain and then to the United States, where he received his B.E.E. in electrical engineering from Ohio State University in 1943 followed by his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1948. He held a large number of positions in the military, with the federal government, and in higher education during his career; his longest stint was as Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia from 1971 to 1994.

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