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Leipzig Declaration

This article is about the climate change declarations, not the Leipzig Declaration on Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture[?]


The Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change refers to two separate declarations which oppose the global warming hypothesis and the Kyoto Protocol. The declarations were both written by Fred Singer of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), and the most recent has just over 100 signatures.

Global warming skeptics have hailed the declarations as a critical scientific turning point. Critics claim they were fraudulent publicity stunts. Indeed, there is considerable controversy over both the authenticity of the signatures and the credentials of the verifiable signers.

The first declaration was based on a November 9-10 1995 conference, in Leipzig, Germany. The second declaration was additionally based on a successor conference in Bonn, Germany on November 10-11, 1997. The conferences were cosponsored by the SEPP and the European Academy for Environmental Affairs[?] and titled International Symposium on the Greenhouse Controversy.

Table of contents

The 1995 Declaration

The 1995 declaration asserts: "There does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. On the contrary, most scientists now accept the fact that actual observations from earth satellites show no climate warming whatsoever."

It also criticised the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, saying: "Energy is essential for all economic growth, and fossil fuels provide today's principal global energy source. In a world in which poverty is the greatest social pollutant, any restriction on energy use that inhibits economic growth should be viewed with caution. For this reason, we consider 'carbon taxes' and other drastic control policies ... to be ill-advised, premature, wrought with economic danger, and likely to be counterproductive."

Signatures

According to the SEPP website, there were 79 signatures to the 1995 declaration, including Frederick Seitz: the current SEPP chair. The signature list was last updated on July 16, 1996. Of these 79, 33 failed to respond when the SEPP asked them to sign the 1997 declaration. The SEPP calls the signatories "nearly 100 climate experts".

The signatures to the 1995 declaration were disputed by David Olinger of the St. Petersburg Times. In an article on July 29, 1996, he pointed out that many signers, including Chauncey Starr[?], Robert Balling[?], and Patrick Michaels[?], were funded by the oil industry, while others had no scientific training, or could not even be found.

The 1995 declarations starts off: "As scientists, we are intensely interested in the possibility that human activities may affect the global climate". These "scientists" and "climate experts" include at least ten weather presenters, including Dick Groeber of Dick's Weather Service in Springfield, Ohio. Groeber, who also signed the 1997 declaration, is particularly notable as a scientist for not having a college degree. When asked by David Olinger whether he considered himself a scientist, Groeber replied:

"I sort of consider myself so. I had two or three years of college training in the scientific area, and 30 or 40 years of self-study."

It is difficult to accurately evaluate the list of signatures of the 1995 declaration, as the SEPP website provides no details about them except for their university, if they have one. In any case, 79 people do not represent a significant fraction of the community of climate scientists.

The 1997 Declaration

The 1997 declaration updates the 1995 declaration in a number of ways. The most obvious difference is its focus on the Kyoto Protocol, as the Kyoto conference was in the process of being finalised. The declaration says:

"We believe the Kyoto Protocol -- to curtail carbon dioxide emissions from only part of the world community -- is dangerously simplistic, quite ineffective, and economically destructive to jobs and standards-of-living. ... We consider the drastic emission control policies deriving from the Kyoto conference -- lacking credible support from the underlying science -- to be ill-advised and premature."

The 1997 declaration also updates its mentions of evidence that runs contrary to the consensus on global warming. For example, the 1995 declaration cites "observations from earth satellites," where the 1997 declaration cites "observations from both weather satellites and balloon-borne radiosondes."

The declaration begins: "As independent scientists concerned with atmospheric and climate problems, we...". As with the 1995 declaration, questions have been raised about the scientific background of these "scientists," and others have questioned the degree to which they can be deemed to be "independent." Because many of the signatures on the 1997 declaration were carried over from the 1995 declaration, the concerns raised by David Olinger and others are still very relevant.

Numbers of Signatures

The number of signatures on the document, according to the SEPP's own press releases, has declined from 140 (according to a December 1997 press release) to 105 (as of February 2003). The signers are generally described by Fred Singer and his supporters as "climate scientists." The 105 current signers include 25 weather presenters.

When released, the Leipzig declaration caused considerable controversy, and the primary focus, as with the 1995 declaration, was on the scientific credentials of the "independent scientists" who had signed. One key report was a Danish Broadcasting Company TV special by ějvind Hesselager. As a result, Singer removed some, but not all, of the discredited signatures.

The SEPP's position is that "a few of the original signers did not have the 'proper' academic credentials - even though they understand the scientific climate issues quite well. To avoid this kind of smear, we want to restrict the Leipzig Declaration to signers with impeccable qualifications." The SEPP now provides considerably more information about each signer on their website, and additionally lists the weather presenters separately from the other "scientists." However, further questions have been raised about the remaining signatures.

Use of the declarations

The declarations have been widely cited by conservative voices in the "sound science" movement. It has been cited by Fred Singer in editorial columns appearing in hundreds of conservative websites and major publications, including The Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald[?], Detroit News[?], Chicago Tribune, Cleveland Plain Dealer[?], Memphis Commercial-Appeal[?], Seattle Times[?], and Orange County Register[?]. Jeff Jacoby[?], a columnist with the Boston Globe, describes the signers of the Leipzig Declaration as "climate scientists" that "include prominent scholars." The Heritage Foundation[?] calls them "noted scientists," as do conservative think tanks such as Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Heartland Institute[?], and Australia's Institute for Public Affairs[?]. Both the Leipzig Declaration and Frederick Seitz's Oregon Petition[?] have been quoted as authoritative sources during deliberations in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

The authenticity of the declaration

The declaration claims to be a petition from 110 "scientists concerned with atmospheric and climate problems." The majority of the signers lack credentials in the field of climate science.

ějvind Hesselager, A journalist with the Danish Broadcasting Company, attempted to contact the declaration's 33 European signers and found that four of them could not be located, 12 denied ever having signed, and some had not even heard of the Leipzig Declaration. Those who did admit signing included a medical doctor, a nuclear scientist, and an expert on flying insects. After discounting the signers whose credentials were inflated, irrelevant, false, or unverifiable, it turned out that only 20 of the names on the list had any scientific connection with the study of climate change, and some of those names were known to have obtained grants from the oil and fuel industry, including the German coal industry and the government of Kuwait (a major oil exporter).

See also: Public relations

External Links

1995 declaration:

1997 declaration:

Related resources

  • Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR1) report, TV report cited by Christian Jensen.
  • Hans Bulow and Poul-Eric Heilburth, "The Energy Conspiracy" (video documentary), Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016.
  • Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Trust Us, We're Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles With Your Future (New York, NY: Tarcher Putnam, 2002).



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