Ivar Giaever: Nobel Icon For Climate Deniers, and Philip Morris


Sensible Nobel laureates study new topics before offering strong opinions on them. For example, at nearby Stanford, Burton Richter “retired” from high-energy physics, and kept contributing, as in talks, book and energy efficiency project. Former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu has no problem speaking on climate science. Of course, both have easy access to top climate scientists. 

By contrast, Ivar Giaever (1929-) did a bit of online searching in 2008, decided climate scientists were wrong, and has been saying so ever since, making him a hero to climate deniers unable or unwilling to assess his lack of credibility.

Even the world’s best brain surgeon is useless for open heart surgery unless they spend much time retraining.

Skeptical Science discussed his errors in Ivar Giaever – Nobel Winning Physicist and Climate Pseudoscientist (2012):

I am not really terribly interested in global warming.  Like most physicists I don’t think much about it.  But in 2008 I was in a panel here about global warming and I had to learn something about it.  And I spent a day or so – half a day maybe on Google, and I was horrified by what I learned.”

He seems to have learned little since, and the most recent embarassment was covered at Snopes, for example.

But new research reveals a darker past. Like some other climate science denialists, Giaever cooperated for years with the tobacco industry, which stays in business only by addicting adolescents and killing many, slowly.

Chronology of Ivar Giaever’s tobacco connections and climate denial

1964-1998 Council for Tobacco Research (CTR) – Distraction Research, Decoy Research, Filibuster Research

Robert Proctor’s Golden Holocaust – Origins of the Cigarette Catastrophe… covers this in Chapter 16,1
Such research sounded good, sometimes was very good and even led to Nobels, but studied everything about cancer except connection with tobacco.  Of course, Giaever’s Nobel (superconducting) had nothing whatsoever to do with health, but his award was a useful marketing tactic.

1964 Surgeon General report clearly proved smoking-disease links. It was followed by frequent updates, including:

1982  The Health Consequences of Smoking – Cancer: A Report of The Surgeon General

“Giaever” is an easy search at Truth Tobacco Industry Documents and he shows up often in the Philip Morris (PM) collection, with documents spanning at least 1983-2000, 2-4 decades after the 1964 Surgeon General report.

1983.09.16 Giaever, still with General Electric, spent a day with PM scientists and top research executives, such as Cliff Lilly and then-VP R&D Max Hauserman. He spoke for their Technical Seminar Series.

1984.10  PM was building dossiers on researchers, including Giaever, to select speakers for 1985 research symposium.

1984.10.31 PM had proposed speakers and alternates, including Giaever,  p.11.

1985.10.18 PM held its Fifth Science Symposium.  Giaever and his wife were banquet guests, p.13.  PM employees outnumbered others ~3:1, so that the latter were mostly talking to the former.  The image above dates from then.

1992.02 Giaever makes research proposal to PM.

1992 Heidelberg Appeal   Giaever and 71 other Nobelists signed the ambiguous “motherhood” Heidelberg Appeal.2
Fred Singer’s SEPP website archived this, as did PM, who certainly cared about itSinger helped organize many petitions against mainstream climate science, (Crescendo p.93) repeatedly signed by many of the same people, usually not climate scientists, but seeming credible to the general public. Nobelists would have been prized above all, and Singer certainly knew many physicists (Merchants of Doubt), so this mainly shows a Singer-Giaever connection, rather than a clear climate position.

1992.08  Second International Conference on Theories of Carcinogenesis, Oslo, Norway August 15-21. Giaever spoke: 
“Can the modern theory of chaos, fractal mathematics, etc be applied to the problem of carcinogenesis and cancer?”

The  program covered a wide range of topics, but “tobacco” was unmentioned as in their earlier 1986 conference,  This seemed free “distraction” research funded by others, but Francis Roe, a UK tobacco industry consultant was a key organizer and speaker at both.  The CTR and companies monitored these events closely.3

2000.05 Giaver (and/or Wnek) makes biosensor research proposal to PM.
Reviewers recommend against (here, here.)

“To date, the technique does not seem to be mature enough to be used in routine testing, although this was suggested in the proposal . Indicative of the limited use of this techniques in other laboratories is the bibliography, which does not include publications of anybody else but the authors themselves.”

2008.07.01 At 58th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting, Giaever participated in a panel, whose online video is excerpted below.4
Panel Discussion on “Climate Changes and Energy Challenges” with Nobel Laureates Profs. Deisenhofer, Giaever, Michel, Osheroff, Rubbia, von Klitzing, Steinberger (Chair: Prof. Dr. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber)’ (senior climate scientist)

He said he was a skeptic, need not worry since he was from Norway, global warming a new religion, hockey stick was not very big, all from a bit of research using Google.  He cherry-picked a few years of temperature history from the USA alone, expressed doubt that warming was caused by humans and said nothing could be done.

He claimed that it took 20 years for a solar cell to return its energy cost, was contradicted, changed that to 10, and then ignored the reply. He said the USA had 500 years of coal and huge shale oil in Colorado. He worried about a new ice age, but not about sea level rise. He talked about a “small ice age” in Europe. The most indicative comment was the last one:
He expressed anger at Norway’s awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to Al Gore the year before. 

2009.03.30 CATO advertisement in major newspapers (Crescendo pp.81-82). Giaever was only Nobelist.

“We, the undersigned scientists, maintain that the case for alarm regarding climate change is grossly overstated. Surface temperature changes over the past century have been episodic and modest and there has been no net global warming for over a decade now. After controlling for population growth and property values, there has been no increase in damages from severe weather-related events. The computer models forecasting rapid temperature change abjectly fail to explain recent climate behavior. Mr. President, your characterization of the scientific facts regarding climate change and the degree of certainty informing the scientific debate is simply incorrect.”  (Few signers are climate scientists, but many familiar names appear.)

2009..??  GIaever signed the Oregon Petition some time between 2008.01.16 and 2009.05.5

2009.05  Petition to the American Physical Society (APS)5 Giaever signed to nullify its climate change statement.
Science Bypass dissected this PR campaign led by physicists who published little or no peer-reviewed climate science:
Fred Singer (1924-), Science and Environmental Policy Project, his ~one-man think tank.
Harold (“Hal”) Lewis (1923-2011), superconductors, then UC Santa Barbara nuclear power, risk analysis, later quit APS
Will Happer (1939-), Chairman George C. Marshall Institute, Princeton atomic physics (now emeritus),
Laurence Gould (1942-), U of Hartford, physics, Heartland speaker and global warming “expert”.
Roger Cohen (1927-) ExxonMobil (ret),  resigned 10/22/12 from APS topical climate group, rebutted by Warren Warren.
Robert Austin (1946-), Princeton biophysics, interviewed in Temperatures rising, had been convinced by Happer.

Princeton has a large, highly-ranked physics department and many Nobelists, fertile audiences had the petition been about science, not ideology. Happer and Austin are both Members of the National Academy of Sciences, but could only recruit 2 more Princeton signers, Salvatore Torquato (Chemistry) and Syzmon Suckewer (plasma physics/lasers).  

Months of noisy PR campaigning recruited less than 0.5% of the 47,000 APS members, ~200 signers,  most recruited via obvious personal relationships and strongly skewed demographically towards older males. At least 4 organizers might have known Giaever, and he signed in the first wave. He likely recruited a coauthor Jens Feder but was the only Nobelist signer.

In essence, a tiny group of physicists, mostly older men who were not climate scientists, recruited associates and demanded APS  reject mainstream science and ignore most of the APS membership. When they failed, some quit, noisily, often with letters given to denier websites or media.

2010.10.06  Hal Lewis resigned from APS. He concluded that, in his view, global warming was “the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.” The APS replied. Within a few days he became an Academic Advisor for the Global Warming Policy FoundationHapper still is

2011.09.13 Giaever resigned from the APS over its climate position.

2011.10 –  present   Heartland “Global Warming Expert” (by virtue of ~day with Google).  Giaever is the only Nobelist.
DeSmog readers know Heartland for climate denial, but Heartland had been funded long before by Big Tobacco, and had a PM Board member 1996-2008 (Fakery 2, pp.37-62. Joseph Bast cited his article “Joe Camel is innocent” when asking for money. Heartland now pushes e-cigarettes.  

2012.07.02  Giaever gave a 30-minute lecture “The Strange Case of “Global Warming” at the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting, following Paul Crutzen and Mario Molina, an odd juxtaposition.  Dana Nuccitelli at Skeptical Science discussed his errors in detail in Ivar Giaever – Nobel Winning Physicist and Climate Pseudoscientist (2012), so those need not be repeated. He mostly added some graphs to the same claims made in 2008 above, having learned little or nothing, but still showed strong opinions not backed by evidence.

 in my view, APS has become a political (or religious?) society. Consequently, I resigned from APS
In this talk I will explain why I became concerned about the climate, and terrified by the one sided propaganda in the media, In particular I am worried about all the money wasted on alternate energies, when so many children in the world go hungry to bed.”

2015.07.01  Meeting  Giaever’s talk “Global Warming Revisited” This is mostly more of the same, but a detailed dissection is offered in Foreign Policy Journal starts the year with Nobel Laureate Ivar Giaever on Climate Change.

Thus, Giaever got a Nobel for superconductors, moved into biophysics, cooperated with Philip Morris for more than a decade, still acts as a Heartland “Expert” and keeps demonstrating ignorance of the climate science he attacks.

Most Nobelists know better, as seen in The Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change (2015).


11964-1968 p.260 ‘Over forty-odd years more than $300 million was provided for “tobacco and health” research.  All of which was widely advertised …On paper, the ambition was to “explore and learn the causes of disease, including the role if any played by tobacco use”… it rarely supported research that might reveal smoking as a cause of human harm.  The primary focus was on the mechanisms of disease rather than its preventable causes.’ 

p.272 ‘And what about those six CTR grantees who later went on to win the Nobel prize? …No one can complain about the quality of work of these scholars – it is fine basic research into genetics, immunology, virology, and the like – but Big Tobacco supported such work because it posed no threat to the continued sale of cigarettes.’

CTR acted an independent-seeming  front for the tobacco companies and one cannot blame the scholars.  Much closer company connections occurred with others, such as Frederick Seitz (Chapter 20, also Merchants of Doubt) … and Ivar Giaever, after he’d shifted from superconducting to biophysics.  Both have been strong voices for climate denial, too.

21992 He did not sign the more explicit Union of Concerned Scientists’ “Warning to Humanity.”  Via SourceWatch:

The Heidelberg Appeal was, in fact, a scam perpetrated by the asbestos and tobacco industries …  later funded and controlled by a coalition which included coal, oil and energy interests, so the two denial strands merged. The Appeal document and the conferences which gave it life were organized by S. Fred Singer…
The document itself was promoted in the USA through Philip Morris’s then-private public relations firm, APCO

Both the “Warning to Humanity” document, and the “Heidelberg Appeal” were signed by highly credible scientists who strongly believed in the statements being made. The initial signers of both documents also provided their qualifications, disciplines, and affiliations, so at this level, there was no deception. It is also worth noting that about 40% of the scientists who signed the “Heidelberg Appeal” also had their signatures on the “Warning” document – apparently supporting opposite sides simultaneously.  In fact, the two groups and the two documents were not in dispute. The fraud comes from the way in which the Heidelberg document was used by the climate deniers to manufacture the impression of a dispute about global climate change. “

31992 Tobacco companies followed these conferences with interest.  Francis (FJC) Roe consulted for Tobacco Advisory Council (TAC), an industry lobbying group, starting no later than 1980.   Search  “Francis Roe” ORFJC Roe” gets 1800 hits.
Hilda and Leonard Zahn reported on the 1986 conference to CTR lawyer Robert F. Gertenbach:

p.3 ‘Iversen, of course, sought help early on in establishing the format and content of the program. He got aid in initial planning from FRANCIS J .C . ROE of London, UK, the well-known scientist, ‘…
p.4 ‘no great attention during the conference to the subject of smoking and health, specifically smoking and cancer. A few speakers mentioned smoking and lung cancer during,their talks or in open discussions.’

A 1988 RJR “Secret” memo reports of a meeting with Roe, one of many by tobacco companies, who were quite happy to follow cancer conferences with legitimate researchers studying anything except tobacco:

p.6 ‘Because he is a consultant to the TAC and independently to some UK tobacco companies he needs to keep a low profile and would not want his name attached to it at this stage.’

Followling the 1992 conference (attendees), Roe wrote the following, found in the PM collection:

p.1 ‘I was involved in the planning. both of the first Conference in this series (which took place in 1986 and gave rise to the book “Theories of Carcinogenesis” edited by O .H . Iversen, …) and of the 1992 conference .’

The 93-min video is instructive, as 6 of 7 Nobelists take the problems seriously.  Following are rough quotes.

01:15-08:30 Schellnhuber Introduction. How serious is this combined challenge  of climate change and energy security? What are the best combined strategies?  How can science and technology contribute?

12:35-17:00 Giaever

“I am a skeptic. … I am from Norway, so why should I worry? … We were worried about acid rain. … The ozone hole was in the papers. …  global warming has become a new religion  „, When you see the hockey stick … it looks so scary, but it is in a fraction of a degree … really isn’t very big. … I did a little research on Google before I went on this panel so I don’t claim to know much about the global warming … The temperature inside the United States, the highest temperature was 1998, the second highest tempreature was 1934, the third highest temperature was 1921.   How can that be? … Even if the global warming is caused by man, we’ll use the oil, there’s really nothing much we can do about it.” 

53:25-57:20  Giaever, with (interspersed rebuttals) from Schellnhuber: or others: 

“The solar energy is a fine source of energy, but it’s too diffuse, therefore you need too big areas and it’s too costly.  If I got back 20 years ago, somebody calculated, I’m not sure if it’s true today or not, for a solar cell to regain the energy it took to make it, it would take 20 years, and people don’t want to talk about these things.”
(“That’s not true any more.”)  “It takes 10 years.”  ( “No, 3/4 (garbled, but ignored by Giaever)”)  … “
In the United States we have coal, for another 500 years.  We have shale oil in Colorado, which is equivalent to all the oil in Saudi Arabia.  So there is no limit here if you’re willing to do the CO2 things.  And if you look at climate in the historical sense, ice ages have happened, I forget exact number, 4 or 5 times every like 100,000 years and now we are right on the level where it is supposed to happen again, 10,000 years into a stable temperature.  And when the ice age comes, the temperature falls 8 degrees.  So maybe we should pollute more, to prevent that 
(laughing). … but what is the the correct temperature? It would be a miracle if the correct temperature for the world is the temperature we have today.  Clearly that is not true.  Maybe we’d be better off 2 degrees warmer.  Maybe we’d be better off 2 degrees colder.  I don’t know, but what I do know is this is not the correct temperature.” 
(Schellnhuber explains no ice age for 40,000 years, sea level rise, degree = 20m SLR, although speed unknown.)  “Greenland … at above 15000 meters the ice have increasing, the coastline is decreasing … there is more ice on Greenland now than there was at the beginning of this period.”
(Schellnhuber: that is well understood, but the overall mass balance is clearly negative.)

1:05:00 Audience Q&A, Can we be sure mankind causes climate change?

1:05:32-1:06:36 Giaever

“There’s something called the small ice age in Europe, and i forget, there’s something like 200 years around 1600, the climate became much colder, and nobody knows why and no climate model can tell you why.  And the fact is that the EaRth is not in a stable circle around the Sun, the axis changes, Jupiter out there disturbing the planet and so on and all sorts of things can happen.  And I think that the chance that the chance the global warming anthropogenic is not very large.  It may be, but it may also not be … man from Sweden gave a wonderful talk about the real problems of the world, people are really poor and so on, and I think a much better way of spending the money on that than to spending the money trying to prevent somethign we can’t prevent anyway.”  (others rebut)

Disussion of energy efficiency, including transport losses in electrical grid
1:16:30-1:16:47 Giaever

“I don’t know much about that, but I think that’s a very small part, the transport loss of what we use, so I don’t think that’s very important.” (Interjection: “10 percent”)  ”10 percent, that’s a small part.”
(Interjection: 10% of very big number)

Discussion of scientists, public and politicians
01:25:59 Giaever

“in my opinion the Nobel prize in global warming and such has already been given last year by Gore, who got the Nobel prize for warming and what-not, and I hate to say something bad about Norway, but in this case, I sharply disagreed with that prize.”

52009 Science Bypass, p.20, 63.  When this was written during mid-2009, Giaever’s name was included in the then-current list, but not on the last previous Internet Archive snapshot, 2008.01.16.  Those earlier snapshots have become inaccessible due to retroactive honoring of robots.txt.  Currently, Giaever’s is no longer listed.

Image Credit: Philip Morris, “50 Years of Research, Development and Engineering”  (2004), but image is from 1985  p.137, found at Truth Tobacco Industry Documents.  

Philip Morris was proud of its R&D in this report, which curiously omitted their “best” R&D that made Marlboro the leading brand, even more effective in addicting adolescents.  It was not just cowboy marketing. but methods that took competitors years to discover. In the 1960s, PM found  freebasing  (“crack nicotine”) heightened the “kick” of nicotine, as per Stevenson and Proctor (2008) “The SECRET and SOUL of Marlboro – Phillip Morris and the Origins, Spread, and Denial of Nicotine Freebasing:”

“There is also tragedy, though, in the fact that so many scholars have helped to perfect and enhance this terrible technology of mortality. …We should not be so surprised that the industry has manipulated cigarette chemistry to keep people smoking; what is surprising, though, is how easily they have gotten away with it.”

Update 06/25/16: Added link to Mainau Declaration.

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