We object to the inaccurate and misleading characterization of William Nierenberg by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway (Nature 465, 686–687; 2010). Their claim that the peer-review panel chaired by Nierenberg “played down the severity of acid rain” is a contradiction of the panel report itself (see W. A. Nierenberg, chairman, Report of the Acid Rain Peer Review Panel; White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, 1984).
Commenting on an interim version of this report, The New York Times wrote on 27 June 1983 that it “concludes that action should be taken immediately to curb acid rain ... It is the first recommendation by an official Government panel calling for action and not just more study to deal with acid rain, according to William A. Nierenberg.”
Nierenberg, who died in September 2000, was an independent thinker who was always willing to say what he thought, regardless of what was popular or expected. He knew that building public support for science begins with a constant regard for the truth.