Yesterday we came across this post on DailyKos about a University professor who recently received a package from a PO Box in La Jolla, CA, asking him to sign a petition denying global warming and condemning the Kyoto Protocol.
The package included an official looking research study titled “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide,” by Dr. Fred Seitz (a gentleman we know all too well here at DeSmogBlog).
It seems that either this Professor has not picked up his mail in a long while, or the infamous “Oregon Petition” effort has resurfaced.
Below is a quick background and some helpful links to the history of the Oregon Petition. If you’ve also received one of these packages, please let me know it would be great to get a hold of one.
Background on the Oregon Petition
The Oregon Petition has been used by climate change deniers as proof that there is no scientific consensus, however they fail to note the controversy surrounding the petition itself.
The Oregon Petition was initiated by an individual named Art Robinson in April 1998 under the auspices of Robinson’s so-called “Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.” [picture above] Along with the Exxon-backed George C. Marshall Institute, Robinson and his Institute published the infamous “Oregon Petition” claiming to have collected 17,000 signatories to a document arguing against the realities of global warming.
The petition and the documents included were all made to look like official papers from the prestigious National Academy of Science . They weren’t, and this attempt to mislead has been well-documented.
Along with the petition there was a cover letter from Dr. Fred Seitz a notorious climate change denier (and former tobacco company scientist), who over 30 years ago was the president of the National Academy of Science. Also attached to the petition was an apparent “research paper” titled: “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.” The paper was made to mimic what a research paper would look like in the National Academy’s prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy journal.
The authors of the paper were Robinson, Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon (both oil-backed scientists) and Robinson’s son Zachary. With the signature of a former NAS president and a research paper that appeared to be published in one of the most prestigious science journals in the world, many scientists were duped into signing a petition based on a false impression.
The petition was so misleading that the National Academy issued a news release stating that: “The petition project was a deliberate attempt to mislead scientists and to rally them in an attempt to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol. The petition was not based on a review of the science of global climate change, nor were its signers experts in the field of climate science.”
Oregon petition and big tobacco
It’s interesting to note that Fred Sietz, the author of the cover letter is also the former medical advisor to RJ Reynolds medical research program. A 1989 Philip Morris memo stated that Seitz was: “quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.” However, 9 years later, it seems that he was “sufficiently rational” to lead the charge on Robinson’s Oregon Petition. It also seems that Seitz is still “sufficiently rational” to sit as the Chair of notorious climate change denier, Fred Singer’s, Science and Environmental Policy Project.
Oregon Petition and the Spice Girls
According to the May, ’98 Associated Press article , the Oregon petition included names that were intentionally placed to prove the invalid methodology with which the names of scientists were collected. The petition included the names of “Drs. ‘Frank Burns’ ‘Honeycutt’ and ‘Pierce’ from the hit-show M*A*S*H and Spice Girls, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell, who was on the petition as ‘Dr. Geri Halliwel’ and again as simply ‘Dr. Halliwell.’ ” Of the fake names, Robinson is quoted as saying: “When we’re getting thousands of signatures there’s no way of filtering out a fake.”