Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change
This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
The Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change claims to be a petition from "scientists concerned with atmospheric and climate problems" who deny that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing global climate change. According to the declaration, "there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, most climate specialists now agree that actual observations from both weather satellites and balloon-borne radiosondes show no current warming whatsoever." 
The Leipzig Declaration emerged from a November 1995 conference, "The Greenhouse Controversy," cosponsored by S. Fred Singer's Science and Environmental Policy Project and the European Academy for Environmental Affairs in Leipzig, Germany. It has been widely cited by conservative voices in the "sound science" movement and is regarded in some circles as the gold standard of scientific expertise on the issue. It has been cited by Singer himself 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 "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 the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia. 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.
When journalist David Olinger of the St. Petersburg Times investigated the Leipzig Declaration, however, he discovered that most of its signers have not dealt with climate issues at all and none of them is an acknowledged leading expert. Twenty-five of the signers were TV weathermen - a profession that requires no in-depth knowledge of climate research. Some did not even have a college degree, such as Dick Groeber of Dick's Weather Service in Springfield, Ohio. Did Groeber regard himself as a scientist? "I sort of consider myself so," he said when asked. "I had two or three years of college training in the scientific area, and 30 or 40 years of self-study." Other signers included a dentist, a medical laboratory researcher, a civil engineer, and an amateur meteorologist. Some were not even found to reside at the addresses they had given. 
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).
- "The Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change", November 1995.
- David Olinger, "Cool to the Warnings of Global Warming's Dangers," St. Petersburg Times, July 29, 1996.
Related SourceWatch articles
- Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR1) report, cited in Christian Jensen, "Re: Fred Singer's Comment on Trenberth's Article," naturalSCIENCE, February 11, 1998.
- Doug Henwood, "Re: Global Warming," Left Business Observer, April 3, 2001
- 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).
- "Leipzig Declaration," Wikipedia
- Leipzig Declaration: List of Signers. SEPP. Retrieved on 1998-06-29.
- Hans Bulow and Poul-Eric Heilburth, "The Energy Conspiracy" (video documentary), Filmakers Library, 124 East 40th Street, New York, NY 10016.