Businessman Peter Farrell says a lot of interesting things: Of course carbon is a greenhouse gas but we’re not emitting enough of it to change the climate. The climate is just changing but not that much. If sea levels are rising, maybe insurance companies should stop providing policies to people in Miami Beach. Australia, he says, does health care better than the disaster that is this country’s Affordable Care Act. And maybe wealthy people like him should not collect Social Security.

Farrell is a colorful, smart and very conservative scientist and businessman, and he sat down with me for an interview that sometimes seemed more like an argument that I enjoyed.

Farrell founded the San Diego-based company ResMed, which manufactures the apparatuses that have helped millions with sleep disorders and sleep apnea. He told me why he’s so passionate about free trade and why he preferred to make his product in Singapore rather than in this country. And he also explained how hard it was to turn ResMed over to his son, who is the current CEO.

You’ll also want to hear what happened when he confronted Mayor Kevin Faulconer about his Climate Action Plan. Faulconer listened politely but Farrell says Faulconer’s wife agreed with him that the mayor’s plan to cut carbon emissions was a futile effort. “There’s no impact at all of CO2 on the climate, end of story,” Farrell recounts Faulconer’s wife, Katherine, as telling her husband.

I asked the mayor’s office if they wanted to challenge Farrell’s memory of the exchange and did not get a response.

Farrell is one of San Diego’s globetrotting business leaders — the kind of tycoon whose views on politics, climate change and “political correctness” can influence presidential candidates. You might find his statements offensive or inspiring but here they are for you to consider.


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    This article relates to: Science/Environment, Voice of San Diego Podcast

    Written by Scott Lewis

    I'm Scott Lewis, the editor in chief of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it's a blast!): @vosdscott.

    10 comments
    craig Nelson
    craig Nelson

    Peter Farrell is the bright light shining on the climate change scam industry. Brilliant MIT scientist who has the cajones to say the emperor has no clothes and only wants to take your money! 

    Started as global cooling , morphed into global warming and finally "climate change" so no matter what happens they can't be wrong -- it's changing eh? 

    I wonder if Al Gore ever bought that ocean front property in El Cajon?  His model had all the ice melted several years ago. 

    Greg Chick
    Greg Chick subscriber

    So a biz expert can voice an opinion and say end of story?  Wow, close minded and arrogant.  He should run for president.  The issues involving climate change are far more complex than any one person can solve and conclude.  As inconvenient as that may be.   The world is bigger than an industry or a political parties interests.  The saying,  you can only pack so many rats in a box, till they start eating each other comes to mind in this case.  Greed is like hunger, and too many people act like rats in that regard.  

    Walt Brewer
    Walt Brewer subscribermember

    Reading between widely spaced lines. Whatever the CO2 amounts reduced and climate impact, perhaps Mr. Farrell would agree to these actions as beneficial tohealthful productive communities:


    Energy sufficiency in North America. Emphasis on solar and nuclear.

    Community facilities achieve lower energy use, and built in solar sources.

    Communities absorb growth with resident agreed designs. Productivity emphasis.

    Public Urban Transportationtransition to on-call personal same vehicle curbside to destination. Mix ofself-drive and human driver vehicles.

    High emphasis for personal on-road motor vehicle electric powered designs to reduce energy and all emissions. Dual mode for roads and Personal Rapid Transit guideways in dense congested areas.

    Mass transit role reduced to a few very active corridors, (e.g.Blue Line Mexican Border), and major high attendance events.

    Public facilities for bicycles etc., related to transportation.

    Support program to reduce costs and recover competitiveness of devices and procedures used to reduce energy use and emissions.

    Helen Fricker
    Helen Fricker

    Peter Farrell is clearly an intelligent and well-educated man; unfortunately, however, he made some incorrect assertions about climate change and the ice sheets in this interview. As a glaciologist I feel compelled to respond to these. First thing he said that was wrong was that Earth's temperature is not rising. This is just not true, the global temperature records show this. Second thing he said that was not true was that the Greenland Ice Sheet is not melting, and "the stuff you read in the newspaper is not solid science". He also said there was no data to prove it. What is reported in the papers is based on press releases associated with papers that have been published in peer-reviewed journals, often Science or Nature. Three independent techniques using data from both NASA and ESA satellites show us that Greenland is losing mass, at an accelerated rate. There are many, many papers on this, and it is in the IPCC report.

    The next incorrect assertion he made about the ice sheets involved the water in the glass analogy, and he said he was not trying to embarrass the interviewer by using it. I have used that analogy too, in a NPR interview last year, except with a gin and tonic instead of water: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/26/395379216/big-shelves-of-antarctic-ice-melting-faster-than-scientists-thought It is correct that if the ice cube in your glass melts then it doesn't raise the level of the liquid, because of Archimedes Principle. However, if you add *another ice cube to the glass*, the liquid level does go up. This is what is happening with the ice sheets -- the ice that is melting and contributing to sea-level rise is not floating on the ocean, it is sitting on bedrock (grounded). When floating ice shelves melt, the grounded ice responds by flowing faster towards the ocean. This happens because there is less and less resistance to grounded ice flow provided by the ice shelves as they thin. His comments demonstrate a total lack of understanding of this process. "This is all explicable with science, trust me". He asked to see the evidence. We have the evidence: satellite data records showing that ice shelves are losing mass, grounding lines are retreating, glaciers are speeding up, grounds ice sheets are losing mass and sea-level is rising.

    About climate change and natural variability: if we were following natural cycles (Milankovitch Cycles) we would be headed towards a cooling.

    "These guys who said that the sea level is rising were in Hong Kong which is subsiding"? I am uncertain what study he is referring to but the fact is that satellites have global coverage. They show that sea level is rising at 3mm a year (global average).

    "Not a shred of scientific evidence that CO2 influences climate". This again is not true. Peter: during this interview you repeatedly asked to be shown the data. Please know that you are welcome to arrange a visit Scripps anytime, we are your neighbours in La Jolla after all, and we would love to show you the evidence for climate change.

    Frank J Lepiane
    Frank J Lepiane subscriber

    And wasn't it the 'conservative scientists' that for decades  denied  that cigarettes are harmful to human health?  I'll give him 'colorful' and 'very conservative' for sure.

    Chris Brewster
    Chris Brewster subscribermember

    Asserting what the Mayor's wife supposedly said without confirmation seems pretty questionable to me.

    michael-leonard
    michael-leonard subscriber

    Yeah, it's called heresay in court, gossip in the barber shop, and bearing false witness in the bible.

    Carrie
    Carrie subscribermember

    As if it matters what Falconer's wife's opinion is. Why is this relevant?