Prof. Fred Singer on Suppression of Science by Al Gore

As U.S. senator and later as vice president, Al Gore successfully imposed climate alarmism on scientific institutions and suppressed dissent. But, he had few failures and only some of them became publicly known. This book chapter by Professor Fred Singer tells about one of them, when Al Gore targeted him personally.  Excerpts from it follow.  Links in the excerpts are mine.

The Revelle-Gore Story
Attempted Political Suppression of Science
S. Fred Singer

This is a personal account linking efforts to suppress scientific publication about climate science and policy by then-Senator (later vice president) Al Gore and his staff.

In those efforts, an individual working closely with Senator Gore and his staff made false and damaging statements about my behavior as a scientist. I filed a libel suit against the individual. The suit was settled when he issued a retraction and apology to me that included a statement that members of Senator Gore’s staff had made “similar statements and insinuations” to those that he retracted.

Vice President Al Gore also tried to influence at least one TV news anchor to carry out an investigation designed to discredit those who disagreed with his personal views about climate change. His effort failed because of the newsman’s integrity. [It was 1992, when newsman’s integrity was not a joke – LG]

Dr. Roger Revelle was one of the outstanding oceanographers of the twentieth-century. … He considered the possibility that human-caused modification of atmospheric composition might affect climate to be a “grand geophysical experiment,” and he didn’t express any particular concerns about possible negative impacts from global warming.

Our [Revelle, Starr, and Singer himself – LG] Cosmos article,“What to Do About Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap,” appeared in April 1991. Our main conclusion was a simple message:“The scientific base for a greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. ”It echoes almost precisely Dr. Revelle’s words in letters to members of Congress following hearings in the (very hot) summer of 1988, in which concerns about global warming were raised. One of his letters went to then-Congressman Tim Wirth, who chose not to heed Revelle’s advice and, as Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, became a close ally of Vice President Gore in promoting the drastic restrictions on fossil fuel use embodied in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the 1992 Rio Climate Treaty.

More than a year after our article appeared in Cosmos, journalist Gregg Easterbrook … wrote that Al Gore in his book Earth in the Balance had claimed that Dr. Revelle, as his mentor at Harvard, had introduced him to the problem of climate change. In his article, Mr. Easterbrook wrote: “Earth in the Balance does not mention that before his death last year, Revelle published a paper that concludes, ‘The scientific base for greenhouse warming is too uncertain to justify drastic action at this time. There is little risk in delaying policy responses.’”

The contradiction … embarrassed Senator Al Gore …

Dr. Justin Lancaster [acting on behalf of Al Gore – LG] at the Environmental Science and Policy Institute, Harvard University … first requested and then demanded that I remove Revelle’s name from the article to be reprinted in the Geyer volume.

When I refused his request, Dr. Lancaster stepped up the pressure on me … suggesting that Dr. Revelle’s mental capacities were failing at the time. Subsequently, Dr. Anthony D. Socci, a member of Senator Gore’s staff, made similar outrageous accusations in a lengthy letter to the publishers of the Geyer volume [This is how Al Gore treated his supposed mentor – LG], requesting that the Cosmos article be dropped. Neither the editors nor the publishers consented to the requests (near demands) of Lancaster and Socci.

The discovery process for the suit produced a number of revelations about Dr. Lancaster’s interactions with Senator Gore and the senator’s staff (including Dr. Socci) and about the senator and his staff’s intentions. According to Dr.Lancaster’s deposition, Senator Gore called him after the Easterbrook article appeared. During the phone call, the senator asked Dr. Lancaster about Dr. Revelle’s mental capacity in the months before his death and whether the article accurately reflected his views. In a draft for a letter in reply to the senator’s questions, Dr. Lancaster completely undermined the claims that he later made against me, stating Dr. Revelle was “mentally sharp to the end” and that he was “not casual about his integrity” …

We also found much additional evidence linking Senator Gore to Dr. Lancaster.

Like Senator Gore, Dr. Lancaster seemed to be under the impression that scientists who question the basis for a global warming catastrophe, such as Robert Balling, John Christy, Hugh Ellsaesser, William Happer, Sherwood Idso, Richard Lindzen, Patrick Michaels, William Nierenberg (Revelle’s successor as director of the Scripps Institution), Chauncey Starr, Roy Spencer, and many others are part of some sort of energy-industry conspiracy.

On February 24, 1994, Ted Koppel revealed on his [ABC News] Nightline program that Vice President Gore had called him and suggested that Mr. Koppel investigate the political and economic forces behind the “anti environmental”movement.

Mr. Koppel didn’t do the vice president’s bidding … He closed the show by chastising Gore for trying to use the media to discredit skeptical scientists:

There is some irony in the fact that Vice President Gore — one of the most scientifically literate men to sit in the White House in this century [widely spread but absolutely unfounded myth – LG] — resorting to political means to achieve what should ultimately be resolved on a purely scientific basis. The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works. [If it were that simple! Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “the acid of truth”. A scientific hypotheses is tested by observations and experiments, which might be difficult to perform and even more difficult to interpret. – LG]

To me, Mr. Gore’s involvement in this case as a senator and then as vice president was surprising and intimidating.

I have two major concerns about Mr. Gore and his position (or perhaps “posturing” is a better word) on global climate change and scientists who disagree with him.

  1. He appears to believe that those who disagree with him are part of some vast industry-led conspiracy, and his ego will not entertain the thought that his opposition really is just a group of individuals and small organizations led by people whose motivation is something other than financial gain. …
  2. As his own aides have reportedly said, Gore has “a long memory.” Like Richard Nixon, it is said that he’s a “don’t get mad, get even” kind of guy — witness the many scientists who have been harassed and bullied (see chapter by Happer, this volume) and the journalists who have been frozen out or fired.

Socci was on Gore’s senate staff. Frieman and Munk were scientists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, whom Lancaster knew well; they were all politically active in the Gore campaign of 1992.

This was a chapter from the book Politicizing Science: The Alchemy of Policymaking (2003), which contains essays from a number of eminent scientists who experienced or at least witnessed more cases of suppression or corruption of science.  At least some chapters of this book appear online but they are digitized in a way that is not friendly to search engines.