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Benny Peiser

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Benny Peiser

Benny Peiser
Born 1957
Haifa, Israel
Education PhD Cultural Studies
Alma mater Frankfurt University
Occupation Social anthropologist, writer

Benny Josef Peiser, born 1957, is a social anthropologist specialising in the environmental and socio-economic impact of physical activity on health. He was a senior lecturer in the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU)[1] and is a visiting fellow at the University of Buckingham.

Peiser established the Cambridge Conference Network in 1997. Peiser acknowledges that he is "not a climate scientist" and has "never claimed to be one." His interest as a social anthropologist, is in "how climate change is portrayed as a potential disaster and how we respond to that."[2]

As an outspoken climate change sceptic, Peiser became director of the newly established UK lobbying group Global Warming Policy Foundation in 2009. He serves as co-editor of the journal, Energy & Environment and is a regular contributor to Canada's National Post.[3][notes 1][1][4][5][6]


Born of German parents in Haifa, Israel, in 1957, Peiser's family soon returned to Germany. He grew up in Frankfurt and "spent the first 35 years of his life" in Germany.[7]

Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science at Frankfurt University, receiving a doctorate in cultural studies (Kulturwissenschaften) from that institution in 1993, for an examination of the history, archaeology and natural history of Greek problems at the time of the ancient Olympic Games.[8][9]

Drawn by "concerns about nuclear energy and its waste", he reportedly was involved with the German Green Party while a student.[7]

Upon completing his doctoral degree, Peiser moved to Liverpool, England, to take up a position as lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University.[7]

Career and research interests

Peiser was previously employed as an historian of ancient sport at the University of Frankfurt.[10] He listed his research interests at LJMU as the effects of environmental change and catastrophic events on contemporary thought and societal evolution; climate change and science communication; international climate policy; the risks posed by near-Earth objects and satellites and the environmental and socio-economic impacts of physical activity.[11]

Cambridge Conference Network

In 1997 Peiser established the Cambridge Conference Network, an email-based discussion group for a conference of the Society for Interdisciplinary Studies about Bronze Age catastrophes. Over time the network began to focus on discussion on climate change and was renamed CCNet (active from 1997 to 2006),[12] to provide a platform for "the minority of people who are climate (change) sceptics or have doubts about the prevailing views."[2]

Peiser acknowledges that he is "not a climate scientist" and has "never claimed to be one." His interest as a social anthropologist, is in "how climate change is portrayed as a potential disaster and how we respond to that."[2]

Peiser argued that he is against alarmist, hysterical doomsday scenarios and catastrophic apocalyptic cult thinking but is not "a climate-change sceptic (2008)."[2] "Most scientists do seem to accept that there is an effect of CO2 on climate; the big question is how large and dangerous it will be in future. Personally, I'm also sceptical about the doomsday scenarios."[2]

Reclassification of Pluto's Status

American astrophysicist and science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson described (2008) the Cambridge Conference Network (CCNet) as a "widely read, UK-based Internet chat group" "moderated" by Benny Peiser with a primary interest in "open discussion of asteroids, comets, and their risk to life on Earth" but open to many other news subjects.[13] In 2001 Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the New York's museum's Hayden Planetarium, displayed only eight (not nine) planets with Pluto reclassified as a dwarf planet. Tyson recounted the heated on-line debate on CCNet chat group following Peiser's renewed call for reclassification of Pluto's status. Peiser's entry, in which he posted articles from the AP and Boston Globe spawned from the New York Times's article entitled 'Pluto's Not a Planet? Only in New York'. Tyson's decision resulted in large amounts of hate mail, much of it from children.[14][15][16]

Involvement in the climate-change debate

In 11–13 July 1997, Benny Peiser and co-editors introduced the Second Society for Interdisciplinary Studies Cambridge Conference held at Fitzwilliam College, by outlining the background of neo-catastrophism by examining the astronomical and meteoritic background for catastrophic thinking, for example near-earth objects, cometary catastrophes and ecological disasters. The presentations by historians, classicists -researchers in areas such as Chinese studies, mythology, art, religion, literature and ancient civilisations – met with geologists, astrophysics, and a science correspondent for London's Sunday Telegraph, were later compiled in a publication entitled Natural Catastrophes during Bronze Age Civilisations.[8]

During a debate at the Oxford Union in 2005, Peiser stated, "The lack of a balanced approach to the issue of global warming has led to an extremely one-sided and alarmist perception of risk.... Climate alarmists habitually ignore the potential economic and health benefits of warming temperatures. While magnifying the probable risks to health and mortality as a result of warmer temperatures, many underrate or simply discount the possible heath benefits of moderate warming."[17]

In an interview in Local Transport Today in 2006, Peiser argued that environmental concerns in general and concern about global warming in particular had reached a level of "near hysteria" and was "poisonous for rational policy making".[18]

Physicist Laurence I. Gould from the University of Hartford, in his editorial entitled 'Global Warming from a Critical Perspective' (2007) included Benny Peiser's argument in favour of the Oxford Union debate proposition entitled "This House believes that alarmism has replaced science in the global warming debate."[19]

In 2009, in response to a prediction by James E. Hansen from NASA that sea levels could rise by 60 cm, he said, "The predictions come in thick and fast, but we take them all with a pinch of salt. We look out of the window and it's very cold, it doesn't seem to be warming."[20]

In May 2013 Benny Peiser spoke to a group of 200 at the 10th annual Calgary, Alberta [25]

Global Warming Policy Foundation

Benny Peiser, social anthropologist at Liverpool's John Moores University, is director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, who was concerned with what he claimed was the hysterical nature of climate change rhetoric.[26] The Global Warming Policy Foundation, headquartered in a room rented from the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining,[26] was created in part in response to the 2009 Climatic Research Unit email controversy, a series of emails from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Bob Ward who has served as policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics[27] argued that some of the names of members of the Global Warming Policy Foundation are "straight from the Who's Who of current climate change skeptics." Ward was concerned that the GWPF would pump material that was not scrutinised through peer-reviewed into the climate change debate. The Global Warming Policy Foundation's board of trustees includes Lord Barnett, who voted against the Climate Change Bill, and the Bishop of Chester, "who has argued there was no consensus among climate change scientists that carbon dioxide levels are the key determinant".[26] Professor Ian Plimer, GWPF's on the academic advisory council, "argues volcanoes produce more CO2 than humans."[26] At its launch in 2009 it was described as a "new high-powered all-party think-tank" by global warming critic, Lord Lawson of Blaby, the former Conservative Chancellor, in an interview with The Timess journalist David Aaronovitch.[28]

The Guardian article cast doubt on the idea that an upsurge in scepticism was underway, noting that "in (the US) Congress, even the most determined opponents of climate change legislation now frame their arguments in economic terms rather than on the science". [26]

Fred Pearce wrote in The Guardian (2010) that the three inquiries Global Warming Policy Foundation looked into were all badly flawed, and that The Climategate Inquiries report ably dissects their failures. He writes that the report, "for all its sharp—and in many cases justified—rejoinders to the official inquiries ... is likely to be ignored in some quarters for its brazen hypocrisy." Pearce argued that one of the criticisms of the three inquiries was that no climate sceptics were on the inquiry teams, and now the critics themselves have produced a review of the reviews that included no one not already supportive of the sceptical position. But, Pearce wrote, Montford "has landed some good blows here."[29]

Objections to Oreskes essay

In 2004, a paper was published in the journal Science by Naomi Oreskes titled Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change.[30] It researched the hypothesis that legitimate dissenting opinions on anthropogenic climate change might be downplayed in scientific papers and concluded that 75% of the examined abstracts either explicitly or implicitly backed the consensus view, none directly dissenting from it. The essay received a great deal of media attention from around the world and has been cited by many prominent persons including as Al Gore in the movie An Inconvenient Truth, the Royal Society and Prof Sir David King, the UK Government's chief scientific adviser.

Peiser identified an error in this paper in that keywords used in the ISI database search were in fact "global climate change" and not "climate change" as originally stated, which resulted in a correction being published by Science.[30]

Noticing that the original research had limited itself to articles in peer-reviewed publications, Peiser then performed a similar survey that included non-scientific, non-peer-reviewed, publications and wrote a letter to Science claiming that only 29% of such papers agreed with the consensus viewpoint, 3% explicitly disagreeing. Science chose not to publish Peiser's letter saying that the basic contents of his letter were not novel enough to be published, as they were "widely dispersed on the internet."[31][32]

In an article in The Daily Telegraph, Peiser claimed that leading scientific journals were 'censoring debate on global warming' and that Science "has a duty to publish [his research]".[31]

One of his main points of criticism is that the vast majority of the abstracts referred to in the study do not mention anthropogenic climate change, and only 13 of the 928 abstracts explicitly endorse what Oreskes called the "consensus view".[33] Peiser later admitted that it was a mistake to include one of the papers in his survey and said that his main criticism of Oreskes's essay its "claim of a unanimous consensus on anthropogenic global warming (APG) (as opposed to a majority consensus) is tenuous" and that it still was valid. "I accept that it was a mistake to include the abstract you mentioned."[34]

In a 2006, letter to Australia's Media Watch, Peiser explained that he had retracted 97% of his original critique and elaborated on some of his comments: "I do not think anyone is questioning that we are in a period of global warming. Neither do I doubt that the overwhelming majority of climatologists is agreed that the current warming period is mostly due to human impact. However, this majority consensus is far from unanimous."[35][36]

Other interests

Peiser is a member of Spaceguard UK,[37] and a German libertarian blog, "Achse des Guten" ("Axis of Good").[38] A 10 km-wide asteroid, Minor Planet (7107) Peiser, is named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union.[39]


  1. ^ The National Post, former media magnate Conrad Black's national flagship title was established to provide a voice for Canadian conservatives and to compete with Canada's The Globe and Mail, the establishment newspaper with a liberal bias in Canadian newspapers . Outside Toronto, the National Post was built on the printing and distribution infrastructure of Black's national newspaper chain, formerly called Southam Newspapers, that included papers such as the Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Edmonton Journal, Calgary Herald, and Vancouver Sun and Benny Peiser continues to participate in stories with these newspapers as well.

Selected publications

  • ("The dark age of Olympia, critical investigation of the historical, archeological and natural science problems of the Axial age of Greece with reference to the Ancient Olympic Games")
  • B. Peiser (2003) Climate Change and Civilisation Collapse, in
  • M. Paine and B. Peiser (2004) The frequency and consequences of cosmic impacts since the demise of the dinosaurs, in: Bioastronomy 2002: Life among the Stars, eds. R. Norris & F. Stootman, (Sydney), 214–226
  • B. Peiser and T. Reilly (2004) Environmental factors in the summer Olympics in historical perspective. Journal of Sports Science 22(10) 981–1002
  • B. Peiser (2005) From Genocide to Ecocide: The Rape of Rapa Nui. Energy & Environment 16:3&4, pp. 513–539
  • B. Peiser (2005) Cultural aspects of neo-catastrophism: Implications for archaeoastronomy. In: Current Studies in Archaeoastronomy (J Fountain and R Sinclair, eds). The Carolina Academic Press Press, Durham, North Carolina, pp. 25–37
  • T. Reilly and B. Peiser (2006) Seasonal variations in health-related human physical activity, Sports Medicine 36:6, 473–485
  • A. Ball, S. Kelley and B. Peiser (2006) Near Earth Objects and the Impact Hazard. (Milton Keynes: Open University)
  • B. Peiser, T Reilly, G Atkinson, B Drust, J Waterhouse (2006). Seasonal changes and physiological responses: Their impact on activity, health, exercise and athletic performance. (The extreme environment and sports medicine) International SportMed Journal 7(1), 16–32.
  • Brook, Barry W., et al. (2007) Would the Australian megafauna have become extinct if humans had never colonised the continent? Quaternary Science Reviews, Volume 26, Issues 1–2, January 2007.


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ .
  6. ^ "Energy & Environment: Mission Statement". Accessed: 19 May 2012.
  7. ^ a b c
  8. ^ a b

    |editor1=Peiser, Benny J. |editor2=Trevor Palmer, and Mark E. Bailey (editors) (1998). Natural Catastrophes During Bronze Age Civilizations, BAR International Series 728. ISBN 0-86054-916-X. p. 251.

  9. ^ Peiser, Benny J. 1993. Das dunkle Zeitalter Olympias: kritische Untersuchung der historischen, archäologischen und naturgeschichtlichen Probleme der griechischen Achsenzeit am Beispiel der antiken Olympischen Spiele. Frankfurt am Main: Lang 1993, 290 pp., ISBN 3-631-46522-X.
  10. ^ Conference Schedule: "Reconsidering Velikovsky: The Role of Catastrophism in the Earth Sciences and the History of Mankind," University of Toronto, 17–19 August 1990.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Colbert Report, 17 August 2006
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^ a b c d e
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ a b
  31. ^ a b
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^

External links

  • Interview with Benny Peisner, "The New Age of Apocalypticism", May 28, 2008.
  • , November 25, 2011.National PostBenny Peisner, "Durban Downbeat" (op-ed),
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