The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is the brainchild of retired scientist S. Fred Singer. The chair of SEPP's board of directors is retired university president Frederick Seitz, formerly president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The project, based in Fairfax, Virginia, has since 1990 presented arguments against the "environmentalist" positions on ozone depletion and global warming theory. Its website regularly presents what it claims is evidence that the media and other institutions have shown bias in reporting on the global warming controversy.

SEPP claims that the United Nations panel on climate change (IPCC) has produced misleading summaries of the work of scientists whose results did not support the IPCC's preordained conclusions. It strongly rejects the claim frequently voiced by the UN panel and the Democratic Party of the US, that a "scientific consensus" exists regarding the global warming hypothesis, contending that supporters of the Kyoto Protocol vastly overstate the degree of scientific certainty on climate change.

SEPP's board of directors and advisers is, according to Grist, "made up primarily of retired scientists no longer active in the field, and many of whom are also on the board of the closely linked George C. Marshall Institute."

Table of contents
1 Views of the SEPP
2 Criticisms of SEPP
3 External links

Views of the SEPP

SEPP has emerged as one of the chief opponents of the global warming hypothesis, dismissing it as an unvalidated theory. SEPP's position on global warming is summed up in these quotes from Dr. Singer's web site:

  • ". . . at least two-thirds of the warming in this century occurred before 1940, i.e., before most of the increase in greenhouse gases. The period, 1940-1975, showed a cooling. More important perhaps, the highly accurate global temperature data from weather satellites show no warming whatsoever in the last 18 years, while the climate models predict a warming of 0.4 to 0.6 C. Clearly, the theoretical models have not been validated by actual observations. Why then should we trust them to predict a future warming?" (August 26, 1996) [1].

Note that the claim about "at least 2/3 of the warming" does not appear to be supported by the temperature record Further, the claim about no warming from the satellite record is currently wrong: the rise to-date (mid 2003) is 0.07-0.26 oC/decade, depending on which satellite record is used (see satellite temperature record); and climate models reproduce past temperature history quite accurately [1].

  • "The possibility that global temperatures could rise because of an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a concern that needs to be monitored," says Singer. "But there has been no indication in the last century that we've seen anything other than natural climate fluctuations. Both greenhouse theory and computer models predict that global warming should be more rapid in the polar regions than anywhere else," he says, "but in July the Antarctic experienced the coldest weather on record." (Sept. 2, 1997) [1]

The claim that there is "no indication" of anything other than natural fluctuations is odd: most recent research (see anthropogenic climate change) suggests that recent warming is anthropogenic. Even Patrick Michaels, a well-known "skeptic", has said: it is "proven humans are warming the atmosphere" [1]. Attempting to refute warming by quoting cooling in any one year is to confuse weather with climate.

SEPP was the author of the Leipzig Declaration, which it says was based on the conclusions drawn from a November 1995 conference in Leipzig, Germany, which SEPP organized with the European Academy for Environmental Affairs.

SEPP (or Fred Singer) has also commented on the question of Ozone depletion, asserting that the statement "CFCs with lifetimes of decades and longer become well-mixed in the atmosphere, percolate into the stratosphere, and there release chlorine." is controversial [1]. This claim can be seen to be false by breaking the statement into components:

  1. CFCs with lifetimes of decades and longer
  2. become well-mixed in the atmosphere
  3. percolate into the stratosphere
  4. and there release chlorine.

SEPP don't say which of 1-4 they consider controversial, so they must be considered one by one. 1 is a commonplace see CFC for example. 2 is also commonplace: e.g., section 1.3 documents this. 3 is given in the same source, or even the SEPP page [1]. 4 ditto, "The situation changed in 1991, however, when NASA scientist C. Rinsland published data showing HCl increasing at about half the rate of HF, suggesting both natural and man-made sources (13)" says even SEPP, or the ozone depletion page.

Thus we see that each of statements 1-4 is true, and uncontroversial: the original statement is hence also true, and uncontroversial: the original SEPP claim is thus shown to be false.

Criticisms of SEPP

Criticism of SEPP centers on attempts to discredit the organization or its founder by linking it to convervative religion and free-market capitalism, implying that its science is tinged by lunacy or a profit motive. It's exceedingly rare to see any scientific criticism of SEPP (though see Gary Taubes' article "The Ozone Backlash," Science, June 11, pp 1580-1583 for one).

SEPP's views are either self-published or appear in the mainstream press rather than in peer-reviewed scientific journals. As a result, scientists who publish in the peer-reviewed literature have had little comment about SEPP's claims.

Critics have noted its past ties with "cult leader" Rev. Moon, implying that its positions are based on Moon's conservative political ideology rather than science. They also point to SEPP's receipt of funding from the fossil fuel industry, implying this funding taints its independence.

SEPP received startup funding and a one-year donation of office space from the Washington Institute for Values in Public Policy, a now-defunct think tank affiliated with Moon's Unification Church.[1] SEPP has subsequently dissociated itself from Moon's organization, strengthening its links with the conservative Virginia-based George Mason University. However, Singer remains a frequent columnist for the Washington Times, a publication owned by the Unification Church.

In 1998, SEPP received a $10,000 donation from ExxonMobil [1]. According to the Clearinghouse for Environmental Education, Advocacy and Research (CLEAR), a research project formerly affiliated with the Environmental Working Group, Singer:

"has extensive ties to fossil fuels industries. On a Nightline program in February, 1994, it was revealed that Singer has accepted 'consulting fees from Exxon, Shell, Arco, Unocal and Sun Oil.' According to Ozone Action, an environmental organization, SEPP has also received funding from Monsanto, Philip Morris, and Texaco. Singer appeared as a witness during a 1995 Congressional ozone depletion hearing, claiming to have published several peer-reviewed papers on his theories about the huge ozone hole over the South Pole. 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."[1]

External links