The Heat Is Online

NAS Discredits Marshall Institute (1998)

For several years, the politically conservative George C. Marshall institute, under the leadership of Dr. Frederick Seitz, has bombarded the U.S. press with a series of reports denying that there is any validity to established climate science and attacking the IPCC as an intellectually and scientifically corrupt organization.

Journalists in the U.S. have portrayed those reports as newsworthy, despite the fact that the Marshall Institute conducts no research of its own and despite an admission by Seitz last year that the Institute's reports constitute nothing more than mere expressions of "opinion."

In March, 1998, Seitz's institute circulated a study, accompanied by 15,000 signatures, which declared that the IPCC reports were fundamentally flawed. The study was conducted by an Oregon chemist, Dr. Arthur Robinson, Robinson's 22-year-old son, and two members of the Marshall Institute. Robinson has no standing or experience in the field of climate science. As director of an obscure institute called the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, he has written about climate change for The New American, the magazine of the John Birch Society. As recently as 1994, he told readers of his newsletter that the ozone depletion issue was a "hoax." In another issue of his newsletter, he told readers it was safe to drink water irradiated by the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Robinson also sells a $195 home-schooling kit for parents who are "concerned about socialism" in the public schools. Robinson, moreover, co-authored a book in 1986 in which he touts a combination of prayer and fallout shelters as they key to our civilization's survival.

What made Seitz' dissemination of Robinson's alleged "study" remarkable is that it very closely resembled the reports of the National Academy of Sciences.

When the NAS learned about Seitz' project, it took the highly unusual step releasing a public statement discrediting the study and dissociating itself from Seitz and Robinson.

In the statement, the NAS said it is "concerned about the confusion caused by a petition being circulated via a letter from" Seitz. "The petition was mailed with an op-ed article from The Wall Street Journal and a manuscript in a format that is nearly identical to that of scientific articles published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS Council would like to make it clear that this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal. The petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy."

The NAS cited the findings of one of its own committees which declared, as early as 1992, that: "...even given the considerable uncertainties in our knowledge of the relevant phenomena, greenhouse warming poses a potential threat sufficient to merit prompt responses... as insurance protection against the great uncertainties and the possibility of dramatic surprises."