In June, 1997, S. Fred Singer, arguably the most reckless of the U.S. "greenhouse skeptics", launched a blitz of news releases which declared that Dr. Bert Bolin, then-chair of the IPCC, was disavowing his previous statements about climate science.
According to a press release disseminated by Singer's organization, "Bolin publicly refuted claims by the Clinton Administration and many environmental activist groups that any floods, droughts, hurricanes, or other extreme weather patterns are the result of rising global temperatures." According to Singer, Bolin said that "There has been no effect on countries from any current climate change." Bolin added that efforts by activists to establish such a link "is why I do not trust the Greens," according to Singer.
Singer added that "Bolin took issue with Tim Wirth, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, for saying that global warming science was "settled." "Tim Wirth may have said that," said Bolin (according to Singer's version), "but I've talked with him and I know he really doesn't mean it. " Singer added that Bolin was also at odds with a group of more than 2,400 scientists, including 97 Nobel Laureates, who declared that "scientific questions surrounding global warming have largely been resolved and that the government must take quick action, including reducing fossil fuel emissions."
When Bolin heard about Singer's highly publicized version of what he said, he responded in an open letter that Singer's representation was "inaccurate and misleading."
The then-chair of the IPCC categorically denied criticizing Clinton administration officials and others who have commented that recent extreme weather events may be the result of rising global temperatures. Bolin noted that Vice President Al Gore's statement that the 1997 floods in the Upper Midwest "are consistent" with the predicted effects of climate change is a scientifically accurate statement and "no cause for criticism."
Bolin also denied taking issue with Wirth. He said that the large majority of governments at the Second Meeting of the conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (held in Geneva in June 1996), "while recognizing uncertainties, believe that we know enough to take some actions now," and that this position was supported by more than 2000 independent scientists in a letter to President Clinton several weeks ago.
"Dr. Fred Singer of the University of Virginia has distributed a press release in which he refers to remarks I made, when he early this month presented his views about the IPCC Second Assessment (SAR) in Stockholm," Bolin said. "As Chairman of the IPCC, and on the basis of the assessment conducted by the IPCC, I criticized a number of Singer's "findings" severely. His account of what happened at this meeting is inaccurate and misleading."