The Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) is an Arlington, Virginia, United States-based advocacy group founded in 1990 by atmospheric physicist S. Fred Singer The group disputes the prevailing scientific views of climate change, ozone depletion, and secondhand smoke
The chair of SEPP's board of directors was (until his death, March 2, 2008) Rockefeller University president emeritus Frederick Seitz, former president of the National Academy of Sciences. Of SEPP's board of directors and advisers, three are also on the board of the George C. Marshall Institute. Four of the nine science advisors listed on its web site (William Mitchell, William Nierenberg, Michael J. Higatsberger, and Chauncey Starr) are deceased.
The project lists the following key issues:
- "Computer models forecast rapidly rising global temperatures, but data from weather satellites and balloon instruments show no warming whatsoever. Nevertheless, these same unreliable computer models underpin the Global Climate Treaty."
- In preparing its 1995 report, the UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change unfairly marginalized scientific views which do not support the conclusion that human activity is causing climate change.
- The Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated various regulations (pertaining to e.g. smog, ozone, environmental toxins, and particulate matter) which significantly harm the economy with negligible environmental benefit.
- No detectable increase in ultraviolet radiation has been demonstrated from thinning of the ozone layer. The ban on CFCs in developed countries is economically harmful and ineffective, because they are still produced in developing countries.
- In general, science has been misused to promote "politically correct" views, and the mechanisms of science funding contribute to a systemic bias.
- Natural resources are best managed by free-market mechanisms in the context of clearly established property rights.
- The U.S. space program should focus on manned exploration of Mars (as opposed to unmanned problems, or manned exploration of low earth orbit), with the Moon as a stepping stone.
- Efforts to protect the Earth from asteroid impact have been neglected.
On September 2, 1997, Singer said that "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...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."
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's critics offer the following rebuttals to its claims:
- The satellite record shows that warming is occurring. As of mid-2007, the rise is between 0.14 and 0.184 degree Celsius per decade, depending on which satellite record is used. (See Satellite temperature measurements.)
- Computer climate models have predicted 20th century temperature trends accurately.
- The weather pattern in a particular year (e.g. "in July the Antarctic experienced the coldest weather on record") do not imply anything about longer-term climate.
- Scientific evidence indicates that recent global warming is caused by human activity. Patrick Michaels, a well-known "skeptic", has said that it is "proven humans are warming the atmosphere" (See Attribution of recent climate change.)
- The ban on CFCs did not cause any substantial economic harm, and has been effective. Increases in surface UV are inferred (see ozone depletion).
- Primary scientific data was collected in Punta Arenas, Chile, using a Brewer spectro-photometer, and "These results indicate that during the time when ozone depletion in the Antarctica takes place, an increase in UV-B radiation reaching the Earth surface affected the American continent at latitudes about parallel 50° S."
SEPP does not publish research. However, in 2004 Singer was coauthor of two papers published in Geophysical Research Letters:
- Douglass, D. H., B. D. Pearson, and S. F. Singer (2004), Altitude dependence of atmospheric temperature trends: Climate models versus observation, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L13208, doi:10.1029/2004GL020103.
- Douglass, D. H., B. D. Pearson, S. F. Singer, P. C. Knappenberger, and P. J. Michaels (2004), Disparity of tropospheric and surface temperature trends: New evidence, Geophys. Res. Lett., 31, L13207, doi:10.1029/2004GL020212.
SEPP reports that they are following up on these findings and expects to publish more papers.
Scientific criticism of SEPP's views:
- "The Ozone Backlash," Science, New Series, Vol. 260, No. 5114, pp. 1580-1583, June 11, 1993.