Chris de Freitas

Chris de Freitas (Deceased)



Chris De Freitas was an Associate Professor at the School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland. De Freitas passed away in 2017 after a two year struggle with cancer.4Dr Chris de Freitas,” The University of Auckland. Archived July 12, 2017. URL: 5Prominent NZ scientist Chris de Freitas dies,” New Zealand Herald, July 11, 2017. URL:

According to his profile at the University of Auckland, De Freitas previously worked as the Deputy Dean of Science and Head of Science and Technology at the Tamaki campus, and also worked for four years as Pro Vice Chancellor. His positions include former Vice President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand, Vice President of the International Society of Biometeorology and is co-founder of the Australia New Zealand Climate Forum. For 10 years he was an editor of the Climate Research journal.6Dr Chris de Freitas,” The University of Auckland. Archived July 12, 2017. URL:

During his time as editor, Climate Research was the source of some controversy when papers were published that led several editors to resigned in protest, pointing to the journal’s flawed peer review process. Mother Jones reported that one such article was written by climate change deniers Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, which concluded “the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.”7Chris Mooney. “Some Like It Hot,Mother Jones, May/June 2005. Archived July 11, 2017. URL:

Stance on Climate Change

July 16, 2011

De Freitas told The New Zealand Herald:8The climate dissenter holds his ground,” The New Zealand Herald, July 16, 2011. Archived June 20, 2013 vis

“’I do not dispute that the carbon dioxide rise in the atmosphere is largely from the use of fossil fuels,’

‘No doubt rising carbon dioxide could “change the climate”. The basic physics is there to support this view. But where is the evidence that the putative change would be large or damaging?’

In more extreme weather events perhaps? De Freitas doesn’t accept that extreme weather events are linked to human induced climate change (global warming).

‘It is unlikely that the man-made changes are drivers of significant climate variation,’ he wrote in 2007. As far as he’s concerned the climate has always changed – naturally. And the fact that global carbon dioxide emissions last year rose by a record amount to almost 31 billion tonnes is neither here nor there.”9The climate dissenter holds his ground,” The New Zealand Herald, July 16, 2011. Archived June 20, 2013 vis

Key Quotes

“I am not a global warming sceptic. I accept that rising human-caused CO2 from fossil sources could ‘change the climate’. The basic physics is there to support this view. But where is the evidence that the putative change would be large or damaging?”10Chris de Freitas not a skeptic,” Heretics Corner, September 2011.

Key Deeds

May 2010

De Freitas was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s fourth International Conference on Climate Change in Chicago.11“Fourth International Conference on Climate Change, Program,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived February 7, 2018.

DeSmog has done research on the co-sponsors of the conference and found that 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) have received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil, Koch Industries family foundations or the Scaife family foundations.

His speech, titled “Influence of the Southern Oscillation of Global Temperature” can be viewed below.

October 1, 2010

Chris de Freitas was listed as a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s “Pac-Rim Conference on Climate Change.”12Pacific-Rim Conference on Climate Change Conference Program (PDF),” The Heartland Institute. Archived July 25, 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

His speech, titled “Developments in Climate Science: Potential Drivers of Emissions Policy Beyond 2012” can be viewed below.

October 25, 2006

Chris de Freitas was one of several scientists submitting amicus brief organized by Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on Carbon Dioxide pollution case before Supreme Court.13Amici Curiae Brief of Climatologists and Scientists Sallie Baliunas, John R. Christy, Chris De Freitas, David Legates, Anthony Lupo, Patrick Michaels, Joel Schwartz, and Roy W. Spencer in Support of Respondents,” CEI, October 24, 2006. Archived August 27, 2007.

January 2003

As a former editor Climate Research, de Freitas was involved in a controversy surrounding a research article co-authored by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. The article reviewed previous scientific papers and came to the conclusion that the climate hasn’t changed in the last 2000 years.14Climate study just hot air say critics,” New Zealand Herald. August 7, 2003. 15Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years” (PDF), Climate Research, Vol. 23 (January 31, 2003). Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

Thirteen of the authors that had been cited in the paper by Baliunas and Soon refuted the interpretation of their work. Among the sharp criticisms of the Climate Research paper was one from Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. When von Storch, then the journal’s editor, read Mann’s critique, he said he realized his journal should never have accepted the study: “If it would have been properly reviewed, it would have been rejected on the basis of methodological flaws.” Shortly after, Von Storch, along with two other members of the Climate Research editorial board resigned in protest—“they submitted flawed research,” Von Stroch stated at the time.16Three Journal Editors Resign Over Paper by Skeptics,” The Heat is Online, July 29, 2003. Archived April 22, 2005. URL:

“And at least three scientists who were on the journal’s peer-review panel–Wolfgang Cramer, Tom Wigley and Danny Harvey–have complained that de Freitas has published papers they have deemed unacceptable without notifying them.”17Politics in Peer Review?”, Scientific American, June 24, 2003.

After the controversy a more extensive version of the research was published in Energy and Environment, operated by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen. Senator James Inhofe used the article as proof that climate change is caused by natural variability rather than human activity.18Senator Inhofe on Climate Change,” RealClimate, January 10, 2005. Archived July 12, 2017. URL:

DeSmog has described how de Freitas opened the door for papers by a set of people mostly listed in this directory. They’d never published in CR before he arrived and they essentially disappeared after von Storch resigned.19John Mashey. “Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003,” DeSmog, November 30, 2011.



According to a search of 22,000 academic journals, de Freitas has published over 40 research articles. A full list of his publications is available at the University of Auckland.25Dr Chris de Freitas,” The University of Auckland. Archived July 12, 2017. URL: 26Author details: De Freitas, Chris R.” Scopus. Search performed July, 2017.

Other Resources


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