Joe Bast Remembers Fred Singer

Excerpts from Joe Bast’s remembrance of Fred Singer, who died April 6 at the age of 95. On the Heartland Institute website:

Fred Singer. Photo from Heartland Institute

Fred Singer was a giant in the field of climate science. His careers in government, the academy, and then in think tanks gave him a breadth of knowledge and experience that mere specialists invariably lack. Most physicists, for example, focus on the behavior of clouds and cosmic rays while neglecting the bigger picture of biological feedbacks, economics, and politics. Most economists focus on cost-benefit analysis and forget that people don’t care how much fire extinguishers cost when their house is on fire.

Fred understood the physics, biology, economics, and politics of climate change and much, much more. In a dozen books and hundreds of articles he explained virtually every aspect of the climate change issue in terms sophisticated enough to be published in the leading peer-reviewed science journals and so plain-spoken that he could appear in The Wall Street Journal and online at American Thinker.


He was a pioneer, one of the first and most prominent scientists to debate his fellow scientists and criticize the false and exaggerated claims of environmentalists and politicians who claimed to be experts on the subject. Where others stayed silent out of fear of retaliation by activists in government and in universities, Fred was utterly fearless, willing to take the slings and arrows of critics in order to defend real (not political) science.


For several years, Fred Singer almost singlehandedly sustained a debate over whether or not enough is known, or can be known, about the causes and consequences of climate change to justify the regulations and taxes being proposed by many partisans on the left. Thanks to his example, integrity, leadership, and generosity, he soon was not a lone voice in the debate, but instead created a movement — call it climate realism — that today dominates informed (if not academic) discussion of climate change. That perspective, now embraced by President Donald Trump and most Republicans in the United States, is saving countless lives and fueling global prosperity.

God bless you, Fred Singer.