A few days ago, I talked with Alban Fisher, a journalist from Capa TV press agency who works for Global —a daily TV program about environment, aired on french-german television Arte—. We spoke about the true identity of Jean Martin, the editor of Pensée unique, the most popular french website about climate skeptical ideas. Jean Martin, this a pseudonym, has been running Pensée unique since 2006 where he publish his own evaluations about climate science papers. Alban Fisher emailed me today that Jean Martin had come out and revealed his identity: he is Jacques Duran, a retired Research director at National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). Working with Pierre-Gilles de Gennes, a french Nobel prize in physics, Jacques Duran was a scientist at ESPCI, a famed school in physics and chemistry in Paris, France. Jacques Duran was also a Research vice-president at Pierre et Marie Curie university (Paris VI). His most famous work looked after powder and granular materials physics. For me, who refuses anonymity, the coming out of the most referenced french climate skeptic on the internet should improve debate on global warming issues (1).
I have to do a mea culpa. A few months ago, as I was working on a paper about skeptics for french monthly Terra Eco, I became nearly convinced that Jean Martin was an undercover for Jean-Martin Meunier, a french retired geophysicist. And I did suggest, in my paper, a link between these two names as I wrote: «As most [french] climate skeptics, the editor of Pensée unique website is carefully protecting his anonymity: “I will tell my real identity at the right moment”. Contacted several times by Terra Eco about his relationship with Jean-Martin Meunier, a retired geophysicist from CNRS who seems to believe that cosmic rays explain almost everything, from climate to plane accidents, Jean Martin did not replied to our requests.» In the paper issued today on Pensée unique, Jacques Duran explains that some people had been quite clever —better than me— in discovering his identity. I congratulate them. And I address my excuses to Jean-Martin Meunier. I did try to contact him, getting no answer. A proof that I should have insisted. We, as journalists, never loose time to verify our informations.
As I still had some doubt, while writing my paper last month —that’s why I wrote carefully—, Jean Martin’s silence about my requests had nearly convinced me. This is a mistake I will remember forever.
(1) Read —in french—, “french climate scientists and climate skeptics, which place on the internet?” in Effets de Terre (April 12th, 2010). This paper relates a study made in cooperation with dutch sociologist Sabine Niederer, who works on controversies on the internet.
• Denis Delbecq, a PhD in physics and former scientist, is a freelance journalist writing on environment and science for several internet and printed media in France and Switzerland (Science & Vie, Terra Eco, Journal du CNRS, L’Express, Le Temps…) and french television (TV5, France 3). Before being a freelance, he was based at Liberation daily newspaper in Paris where he established an “Earth” section about environment, climate and development issues.
• Terra Eco is a monthly magazine about environment, climate and sustainability, based in Nantes (France).