David Legates

David Legates


  • B.S. in Mathematics and Geography. [1]
  • M.S. degree in Geography-Climatology [1]
  • Ph.D. in Climatology, University of Delaware. [1]


David R. Legates is a Joint Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Delaware. In 2005, Legates was designated as Delaware’s State Climatologist. He was hired as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2020. In November 2020, Legates was reportedly tapped to head the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He would leave NOAA and serve until the end of President Trump’s term. Following a controversy where documents promoting debunked climate change studies were released without approval, bearing the print of the Executive Office of the President, Legates and his colleague Ryan Maue were reassigned from positions at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). [2][3], [91], [102], [104]

Legates was later asked to step down as State Climatologist by the Dean of the University. Although no one at the university was willing to explain the reason for replacing Legates as the State Climatologist, Greenpeace speculates that the reason may have been Legates’s close ties with Willie Soon. [23]

In 2007, then-governor Ruth Ann Minner asked Legates to stop using his formal title in public statements on climate change policy. Minner wrote:

“Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.” [23]

Legates and Soon have authored numerous papers together, including a controversial 2007 “polar bear study” that was partially funded by Koch Industries. Legates was the co-author on four of the 11 papers that Soon received fossil fuel funding for – and failed to disclose in the paper. [24], [25]

Legates maintains affiliations with numerous conservative think tanks that oppose climate change regulation or are skeptical of man-made global warming, including the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) where he has been an “Adjunct Scholar” and “Environmental Expert.” [11], [12]

Stance on Climate Change

Legates is a signatory of the Oregon Petition, which states that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

February 7, 2019

In testimony before a subcommittee hearing on “Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies: The State of Our Oceans In the 21st Century,” Legates claimed:  [85]

“Climate has always changed and weather is always variable, due to complex, powerful natural forces. No efforts to stabilize the climate can possibly be successful. […] The current emphasis on climate change abatement will do far more harm than good.”


“Climate, however, is not static. It is highly variable, on timescales from years to millennia – for reasons that include, but certainly are not limited to, human activity.” [29]


“Overall, it appears that anthropogenic climate change estimates are still uncertain (given the discrepancies between most models) and scenarios derived from still incomplete GCMs should not be used to assess future climate change or make national assessments.” [4]

Key Quotes

July 30, 2020

In a guest post for The Christian Post titled “A carbon tax would harm the poor,’’ Legates wrote: [93]

“Delaware’s climate is not changing disastrously. Restricting carbon dioxide will have little impact on our climate . . . a carbon tax assumes that the harm done by carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use exceeds the benefits derived from the fuels and their emissions. There is good reason to think the benefits of the emissions — in enhanced plant growth and hence more abundant and affordable food and a general greening of the planet — could by themselves exceed the costs.”

December 8, 2016

“Models have too much sensitivity to climate change, particular with relation to the greenhouse effect, because there’s just too much water in the atmosphere.” [57]

July, 2016

“Students are increasingly being fed climate change advocacy as a surrogate for becoming climate science literate. This makes them easy targets for the climate alarmism that pervades America today.” [29]

“I fear that our climate science curriculum has been co-opted, to satisfy the climate change fear-mongering agenda that pervades our society today. Instead of teaching the science behind Earth’s climate, advocates have taken the initiative to convert it to a social agenda of environmental activism.” [29]


Legates concluded at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) that it is “difficult to continue to argue that the climate, of the US at least, is becoming more extreme.” [21]


Regarding the IPCC: “I am not a reviewer, because reviewing the IPCC allows them to put your name on the list, and then you become one of the ‘major scientists,’ twenty-five hundred or so, that are supposedly ‘all in agreement.’ I do know that there was a lot of concern, but not much of that made it into the final document.” [5]

“The IPCC really is a sham because while it gives the impression of being a consensus of scientists, it is simply a political document prepared by advocacy scientists with a large ax to grind.”[5]

Key Actions

February 16, 2021

The Independent Institute announced the release of an update to Fred Singer’s bookHot Talk, Cold Science. “Dr. Singer passed away in April 2020, but not before updating and expanding his much-discussed book with the co-authors, and atmospheric scientist Anthony R. Lupo (University of Missouri) and climatologist David R. Legates (University of Delaware),” the press release noted. [108]

“In the new edition (twice the size of the previous edition) the authors explore the inaccuracies in historical climate data, the limitations on and failures of climate models, solar variability along with the effects of clouds, ocean currents, and sea levels on global climate, plus factors that could mitigate any human impact on world climate.

“‘Over the years and despite all the invectives poured upon him by climate alarmists, Dr. Singer has stood his ground for scientific integrity and adherence to the scientific method. For that, he is to be greatly commended,’ said climatologist David R. Legates.”

January 2021

As reported at The Washington Post and The New York Times, David Legates and Ryan Maue were both reassigned from their positions at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) following their role in producing and publishing a series of debunked climate change reports without White House approval. [104], [105], [106]

The reports were published on the website of the Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences (CERES), which appears to be associated with Willie Soon. [107]

The papers bore the print of the Executive Office of the President wrote they were copyrighted by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). They were not approved by Kelvin Droegemeier, the director of the office. [104]

“Dr. Droegemeier was outraged to learn of the materials that were not shared with or approved by OSTP leadership,” OSTP spokeswoman Kristina Baum said in an email Tuesday afternoon. “He first became aware of the documents when contacted by the press. As a result, Dr. Droegemeier took swift action and the individuals responsible have been relieved of their duties at OSTP.”

Legates and Maue would return to NOAA from their positions at OSTP in their final days working for the Trump administration. Scott Smullen, deputy director of NOAA communications, distanced the agency from the documents: [104]

“Science papers from NOAA follow a rigorous peer-reviewed process under agency regulations on scientific publications. NOAA was not involved in the creation or posting online of the climate change flyers that have been allegedly attributed to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, nor does NOAA endorse the flyers. OSTP is investigating the issue,” Smullen said in a statement.

Former OSTP director John Holdren, who headed the agency during Barack Obama’s presidency, called for Legates to be fired. He also suggested that writing the papers under the banner of the Executive Office of the President and the OSTP without authorization was “not merely outrageous but, apparently, illegal.” [104]

As noted by The Washington PostU.S. Code states: “Whoever fraudulently or wrongfully affixes or impresses the seal of any department or agency of the United States … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.” [104]

December 3, 2020

Legates was appointed to the committee responsible for selecting the National Medal of Science winners, The Hill reported. The appointment would extend into the Biden administration. The National Medal of Science is traditionally awarded to top scientists for contributions in their field. [103]

November 2020

Legates was tapped to head the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He would leave NOAA and transition to the new role as early as November 12, The Washington Post reported noting, “The shift would put Legates in position to at least influence the authors chosen to craft the National Climate Assessment, a congressionally-mandated report that periodically examines climate change damage and includes projections for the U.S., down to the local and regional level.” [102]

A former NOAA official commented on the appointment: [102]

“Sometimes these moves are made at end of an administration. It’s like titling at a windmill: It’s a nice move to your base, but there’s no substance to it,” the former agency official said. “From a pure political standpoint, if you wanted to appeal to your base, why didn’t you do this before the election? This is just a waste of time and energy.” [102]

Legates would serve in the role of executive director until the End of Trump’s term, however a new administration would be able to remove him from the research program. [102]

“I think he [Legates] can make messes that the Biden people are going to have to clean up, especially with respect to personnel appointments and author nominations and assignments,” said a former scientist with the research program. [102]

September 2020

NPR reported Legates was hired for a top position at NOAA. As NOAA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction, Legates would report directly to to Neil Jacobs, who is responsible for the “strategic direction and oversight of over $5.54 billion in annual spending” of the agency. [91], [92]

Heartland Institute board member Steve Milloy celebrated Legates’ appointment, saying in an email to NPR, “David Legates is a true climate scientist and will bring a great deal of much-needed science to NOAA.” [91]

Climate researchers criticized the appointment.

“He’s not just in left field — he’s not even near the ballpark,” said Jane Lubchenco, a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and head of NOAA under President Barack Obama. [91]

Michael Mann, climate scientist at State University, said in an email to NPR that Legates has, throughout his career, “misrepresented the science of climate change, serving as an advocate for polluting interests as he dismisses and downplays the impacts of climate change.” [91]

Legates has has “earned infamy” for opposing the conclusion that climate is changing rapidly due to human activities, and labeled those who believe that consensus as “alarmists and charlatans,” The Washington Post reported. [94]

“Mr. Legates’s appointment, which does not require Senate confirmation, threatens to upend an agency that produces some of the best Earth science research in the world — and that has, so far, managed to keep doing credible work even as experts at the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department have been suppressed,” the Washington Post editorial board wrote. [94]

Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) made the following statement: [95]

“I am extremely concerned that the quiet weekend appointment of David Legates is another move by the Trump Administration to place climate deniers in key political positions to silence federal climate scientists, as has occurred at the EPA and Interior Department. At a time when our nation is suffering from compound climate hazards and extreme weather, including devastating wildfires and extreme heat in the West, derechos in the Midwest, and a record-setting hyper-active Atlantic hurricane season, Dr. Legates’ appointment is not only troubling but potentially dangerous.

“NOAA is our nation’s leading climate and weather agency and provides crucial and timely information, tools, and decision-support services to keep U.S. communities safe. I strongly urge Dr. Legates to publicly affirm that he will uphold NOAA’s scientific integrity policy during his time at NOAA, to prevent political interests from interfering with the agency’s research and communications.”

Following criticism of the appointment in media, The Heartland Institute issued its own statement defending Legates and criticized The Washington Post for its reporting. [96]

“The Washington Post continues to make a fool of itself by playing stenographer to the most radical fringe of the environmental movement,” Heartland’s former president Joe Bast wrote in conclusion. “Prof. Legates is a fine man with a distinguished academic career, his appointment at NOAA may be a long-overdue attempt to inject new talent into an organization that lost its independence and integrity a long time ago.”

The New York Times reported in October 2020 the Trump administration’s moves to remove the chief scientist at NOAA and install “political staff” like Legates and Ryan Maue as well as impose new controls on communications “threaten to stifle a major source of objective United States government information about climate change that underpins federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions and offer an indication of the direction the agency will take if President Trump wins re-election.” [97]

Erik Noble, a former White House policy adviser who was recently appointed NOAA’s chief of staff, removed NOAA’s chief scientist Craig McClean. According to the New York Times, McClean had sent some of the new appointees a message asking them to acknowledge the agency’s scientific integrity policy, which prohibits manipulating research or presenting ideologically driven findings. [97]

Noble responded, according to someone who received a copy of the exchange: “Respectfully, by what authority are you sending this to me?” [97]

McClean responded that, as acting chief scientist, he felt he was responsible for ensuring the agency’s rules on scientific integrity were followed. Noble responded the following morning that a new chief scientist had been appointed. “You no longer serve as the acting chief scientist for NOAA,” Noble said. [97]

Investigating the role the new staff members would play at NOAA, The New York Times reported: “According to people close to the administration who have questioned climate science, though, their primary goal is to undercut the National Climate Assessment.” [97]

“The real issue at play is the National Climate Assessment,” said Judith Curry, who said she has been in contact with Dr. Maue. “That’s what the powers that be are trying to influence.” [97]

John Christy said he had been asked to take on a senior role at NOAA during the summer but had declined. He commented the role would include changing the agency’s approach to the climate assessment. [97]

The NYT added: [97]

“Ms. Curry and the others said that, if Mr. Trump wins re-election, further changes at NOAA would include removing longtime authors of the climate assessment and adding new ones who challenge the degree to which warming is occurring, the extent to which it is caused by human activities and the danger it poses to human health, national security and the economy.”

October 28, 2019

Legates appeared before the Pennsylvania House Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy in a public hearing. [88] , [89]

He testified against a proposal for the state to join a regional cap-and-trade program with eight other states, claiming that there was no scientific consensus on man-made climate change. [90]

In his written testimony, he commented: “I do not believe humans are responsible for most of this warming as many other factors exist to cause climate to change. So, to create a Climate Change Action Plan to ‘stabilize’ the Earth’s climate is like trying to keep the Sun from shining.” [90]

Marc Morano and Gregory Wrightstone, who is affiliated with the Heartland Institute, also testified at the hearing. When asked during the hearing where his funding came from, Wrightstone commented “I get no funding from anybody.” [88, 89]

October 2019

Legates signed the “Realist Catholic Climate Declaration,” drafted by Heartland Institute policy analyst William Briggs, which stated, “the earth’s climate has always changed, is changing now, and will never cease changing. The extent to which man is responsible for climate change is not known, only surmised. There is no earthly force capable of stopping climate change,” and that, “the salvation of souls is of more pressing concern than the air temperature. Pray to God and pray for your neighbor, not to the planet.” [98], [99]

The declaration was endorsed by Anthony Watts’ blog Watts Up With That, in a post by Charles Rotter, which stated, “please share this as widely as possible. With the concept of ‘eco-sins’ being bruited, and the return of paganism, this declaration is timely and important.” [100]

According to a post at William Briggs’s website: “This statement is to be in contradistinction to the hyperbolic and inaccurate ‘U.S. Catholic Climate Declaration’,” Briggs wrote of the draft. “The goal is to have something short, sweet, certain, and Catholic.” [101]

September 23, 2019

Legates appeared at a Heartland Institute panel discussion in New York City also featuring Patrick Michaels and Willie Soon, and moderated by John Stossel. The event was live-streamed to coincide with the UN’s Climate Summit and was announced with the tag line: “It’s time for both sides to make the case: What is happening to our climate and what can we do about it?” [87]

During the discussion, Legates said:

“Most governments want to keep control, and most governments get bigger and bigger over time. So in this case, this is one easy way of getting bigger, is to have sort of that H.L. Mencken hobgoblin that always comes up in front of you. And carbon dioxide becomes that molecule by which we can take control of your lives, of your efforts, and everything that goes on.” [87]

February 27, 2019

Legates appeared before the Congressional Western Caucus alongside Marc Morano and Myron Ebell to provide testimony in opposition to the proposed Green New Deal. In disagreement with the consensus opinion on the causes of anthropogenic climate change, he said that:

“Carbon Dioxide is not the dangerous gas it’s made out to be. […] The most important greenhouse gas is not carbon dioxide, it is water vapor.” [86]

Not only did Legates minimize the causative effects of carbon emissions on climate, he touted a net benefit of carbon dioxide:

“Is a warmer climate and more carbon dioxide a net benefit to life on the planet? You bet. The answer to the question is a resounding yes. More people die from exposure to cold than heat. A longer growing season is more beneficial to feeding a growing population as carbon dioxide is plant food, and under higher carbon dioxide concentrations virtually all plants grow faster and they’re more efficient at using water.” [86]

February 7, 2019

Legates testified at a subcommittee hearing on “Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies: The State of Our Oceans In the 21st Century” as a minority witness alongside Kevin Dayaratna of The Heritage Foundation. [84], [85]

In his testimony, Legates claimed “many species such as lobsters and blue crabs actually will thrive on the addition of carbonate and bicarbonate ions and its slightly lowered Ph content” caused by increasing ocean acidification. [85]

Solutions proposed would “have virtually no impact on the Earth’s climate,” he claimed. [85]

“Climate has always changed and weather is always variable, due to complex, powerful natural forces. No efforts to stabilize the climate can possibly be successful.”

With regards to extreme weather events, he said: [85]

“Current climate observations indicate that the events which kill or injure the most people and have the biggest economic impact are not affected significantly by changing greenhouse gas concentrations. Insisting that these events must be caused or exacerbated by human activity reflects a denial of basic climate science.”

Legates also repeated a point that has been pushed by several pro-fossil-fuel campaigns such as Fueling US Forward contending that renewable energy sources rely overly on rare Earth metals: [85]

“Wind turbines, hybrid cars and solar panels require large quantities of these rare metals,” Legates contended. “Mine workers are exposed to highly toxic and dangerous working conditions, usually for low pay and often with child labor or exploitation water from the mines, contaminate soil and groundwater and the required process of strip mining involves significant environmental degradation.”

August 7, 2018

Legates spoke at the Heartland Institute‘s “America First Energy Conference” (AFEC 2018) in New Orleans, Louisiana. [81]

“The purpose of this event is to promote and expand energy freedom in the United States, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s bold America First Energy Plan, a proposal first released during the 2016 presidential campaign. The president’s plan marks a decisive change in direction from the Obama administration’s ‘war on fossil fuels’ and focus on the theory of catastrophic man-caused climate change,” the conference description reads. [82]

Legates spoke on a panel titled “Why CO2 Emissions Are Not Creating a Climate Crisis.” [83]

March 2018

Legates was one of several climate change deniers listed in “friend of the court” briefs offered as part of a case in which San Francisco and Oakland are suing fossil fuel companies over the costs their cities face due to climate change. [74]

As of March 19, U.S. District Judge William Alsup said he had received two of the briefs. One group included Willie SoonChristopher Monckton, while the other included Lindzen and Steven Koonin, who has advocated for a “red team, blue team” approach to debating climate science. [74]

Authors also included William M. Briggs, a statistician; Michael Limburg, vice president of the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE) that has co-hosted climate change denial events with the Heartland Institute; Dietrich Jeschke from  the University of Applied Sciences in Flensburg, Germany; and James Morrison, whose only listing is as an undergraduate in Environmental Scienes at the University of West Anglia. “It’s unusual to list an undergraduate student as a scientific expert, particularly in a brief related specifically to a tutorial on the scientific evidence underpinning a case,” Climate Liability News noted[75]

ICN described the case—which included a “climate tutorial”—as an “an unusual arrangement, seemingly borrowed from patent litigation, where judges commonly hear initial testimony from both sides on pertinent scientific details,” would take place in a mock classroom and included a set of basic preliminary questions about climate to start the discussion. [76], [77]

Lindzen’s group summarized their message as follows:

“To summarize this overview, the historical and geological record suggests recent changes in the climate over the past century are within the bounds of natural variability. Human influences on the climate (largely the accumulation of CO2 from fossil fuel combustion) are a physically small (1%) effect on a complex, chaotic, multicomponent and multiscale system. Unfortunately, the data and our understanding are insufficient to usefully quantify the climate’s response to human influences. However, even as human influences have quadrupled since 1950, severe weather phenomena and sea level rise show no significant trends attributable to them. Projections of future climate and weather events rely on models demonstrably unfit for the purpose. As a result, rising levels of CO2 do not obviously pose an immediate, let alone imminent, threat to the earth’s climate.” [74]

The other group, including Monckton and Soon, had their brief submitted by a Heartland Institute lawyer:

“There is no agreement among climatologists as to the relative contributions of Man and Nature” to observed planetary warming, they claimed. As for the consensus view, it “says nothing about whether anthropogenic global warming was, is or will be catastrophic.” [74]

InsideClimateNews noted that the judge requested that the groups of climate change deniers each file a statement by the end of the day on Tuesday declaring who paid for their research, whether they received support from anyone “on either side of the climate debate,” and whether any of them were “affiliated in any way (directly or indirectly)” with parties to the litigation. [79]

“And why, he asked, did they wait so long to present their documents, limiting the time for others to respond to them?” ICNadded. [74]

The case is one of several in which cities have filed lawsuits against fossil fuel companies regarding knowledge about climate change, and damages related to to their products due to the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. [78]

E&E News reported that Legates, who had worked with Willie Soon on a number of his studies, did not disclose this when responding to the judge’s questions.  While Legates “notified the court that his views have cost him federal research grants” he ” did not mention that some of the studies he conducted with Soon received funding from fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil.” [80]

February 4, 2018

In January 2018, more than 200 scientists endorsed an open letter calling on the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) to remove climate change denier Rebekah Mercer from its board and to “end ties to anti-science propagandists and funders of climate science misinformation.” The New York Times reported that those among the AMNH letter calling for Mercer to step down were Michael E. Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, and Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. [70]

Legates was among a group of climate change deniers who responded with their own open letter, calling for the AMNH “not to cave in to this pressure.” The letter was signed by numerous individuals with ties to groups funded by the Mercer Family Foundation such as Will Happer of the CO2 CoalitionRichard Lindzen, a fellow at the Cato Institute; and Craig Idso, the chairman of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. There are a number of signatories affiliated with the Heartland Institute, which has received over $5.78 million from the Mercer Family Foundation since 2008. [71]

The letter reads: [72]

“The Earth has supported abundant life many times in the geological past when there were much higher levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It is quite likely that future generations will benefit from the enrichment of Earth’s atmosphere with more carbon dioxide.

“Make no mistake, the agitators are not defending science from quackery — quite the contrary!”

November 9, 2017

Legates was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s “America First Energy Conference” at the Marriott Hotel in Houston, Texas. Legates spoke on Panel 1A “Climate Science,” and his presentation was titled “Where the Science Debate Stands Now“: [66]

The event description read as follows: [63]

“At the America First Energy Conference, we plan to examine—one year and one day after Trump’s shocking Election Day victory—the following:

“Where does Trump’s America First Energy Plan stand?

“How much progress has been made in implementing it, and what remains to be done?

“What scientific and economic evidence is there that the plan is putting the nation on the right path for economic growth, environmental protection, or both?” [63]

In a fundraising letter obtained by DeSmog, Fred Palmer had promoted the event as having the goal to “review the scientific and economic evidence that exposes the fraud inherent in the Obama-era regulation regime” while discussing “the overwhelming benefits of fossil fuels to us all.” [64]

Many of the other speakers have regularly spoken at the Heartland Institute’s past ICCCs. Notable speakers listed so far include Joe Bast, Fred PalmerRoger BezdekH. Sterling BurnettHal Doiron, Paul DriessenJohn Dale DunnMyron Ebell, Heartland’s new President Tim HuelskampCraig IdsoDavid LegatesJay LehrAnthony LupoRoss McKitrickSteve MilloyTodd MyersJohn Nothdurt, David Schnare, and numerous others. [65]

As reported at the Houston Chronicle, speakers notably included two Trump Administration officials: Richard W. Westerdale II of the State Department and Vincent DeVito of the Department of Interior. David Bernhardt, deputy secretary of the Interior Department, was also formerly listed as a Heartland conference speaker, but apparently withdrew. [67]

Scott Pruitt also addressed the conference in a recorded video, personally thanking Heartland for “what you’re doing to advance energy” and “for what you’re doing to advance natural resources. [68]

The Climate Investigations Center put up a parody of the America First Energy conference website, complete with profiles on the individual speakers and highlighting their corporate funding and ties to groups such as the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC)[69]

February 23, 2017

David Legates was a signatory of a petition (PDF) organized by Richard Lindzen of the Cato Institute urging President Donald Trump to pull the United States out of the United Nations international convention on climate change (UNFCCC). [61]

“In just a few weeks, more than 300 eminent scientists and other qualified individuals from around the world have signed the petition below,” Lindzen wrote in the letter. [61]

DeSmog investigated the list, and found that only a small handful of the signatories could be considered “even remotely ‘qualified’ or ‘eminent’ — but not in the field of climate science.” The list included individuals “interested in climate,” and one signatory who only identified as an “emailer who wished to sign the petition” while some signers provided no affiliation or address whatsoever. [62]

January 5, 2017

David Legates was a signatory to a Cornwall Alliance open letter supporting Scott Pruitt for EPA Administrator under the Trump administration. [58]

“Mr. Pruitt has also demonstrated understanding of and open-mindedness toward scientific insights crucial to the formulation and implementation of environmental regulation. He is prepared to hear all sides in debates over the risks and benefits of various activities that come under the purview of the EPA,” reads the letter.

On January 12, 2017, Senate Democrats raised conflict of interest concerns regarding Scott Prutt’s fossil fuel ties. Pruitt had spent years working to combat the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan. [59]

In an open letter to the Office of Government Ethics, members of the Senate’s environmental panel commented:

“During his tenure as Attorney General of Oklahoma, Mr. Pruitt has blurred the distinction between official and political actions, often at the behest of corporations he will regulate if confirmed to lead EPA,” the letter said. “Public reporting based on documents produced by Freedom of Information Act requests illustrate how Mr. Pruitt and members of his staff have worked closely with fossil fuel lobbyists to craft his office’s official positions.”

Pruitt was further grilled on his fossil fuel ties at his confirmation hearing on January 18[60]

Some notable signatories of the Cornwall Alliance letter, as of January 5, 2017, included:

December 8, 2016

David Legates was a speaker at the “At the Crossroads III Energy and Climate Summit,” an event co-hosted by the Heritage Foundation and the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). The event was billed as “the premier energy-and-climate policy event in America,” and attracted a range of prominent climate change deniers as well as a range of names connected to Donald Trump and his transition team. [55]

Legates was intended to be on a panel debate, however according to him no one showed up to debate the other side. Legates joked: “I’d like to say that when they saw it was me, they went slinking bank into the swamp from which they came. But the truth is, had any one of these people or had any one of you been in the same situation, they would have not have come here either.” Note this video is now listed as “private” and no longer publicly accessible on YouTube..

“As far as I’m concerned, carbon dioxide is not the most important compound on the planet, as far as climate is concerned. It is of course, as Pat alluded, water.” [31:18]

“When you look at water vapor and water in the atmosphere […] it’s everywhere, in all three forms. […] You can see, even atmospheric concentration, which is where carbon dioxide is king, it’s apparently only queen because water vapor has even the bigger impact on atmospheric concentration than carbon dioxide does.“ [32:56]

“I could have been a modeler. Maybe in another world, I am. I don’t know.” [36:35]

Legates argues that models are just too complex: “There’s 40 different kinds of vegetation around the plant. Now, this shows you just how complex these models are. But what I want to point out is how ridiculous this gets […] we’ve got an unbelievable number of variables to try to keep track of, and then we hit it with a little teeny mallet to see what happens and we bet the farm and all the policy of the future on what that model does with that little, teeny nudge, given the fact it’s got all of these fundamental problems associated with them.” [37:28]

“Models have too much sensitivity to climate change, particular with relation to the greenhouse effect, because there’s just too much water in the atmosphere.” [38:45]

Doug Domenech, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s “Fueling Freedom” project, wrote about the proceedings at The HillDomenech outlined the common climate change denial message shared among the speakers: “Is climate change real? Yes, it has happened in the past and will happen in the future. Is man making an impact on the climate? Perhaps but in very small ways. But the overarching consensus remains the climate change we are experiencing is by no means catastrophic.” [56]

Speakers included:

July 8–10, 2016

David Legates was a speaker at 34th Annual Meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, co-sponsored by Access to Energy, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, and Physicians for Civil Defense. [19]

Legates’s talk was titled “Freedom of Information Act and Academic Freedom in Climate Science.” [19]

DDP listed the following speakers at their event: [19]

March 31, 2016

Following the U.S. premier of CFACT’sClimate Hustle,” David Legates appeared on a panel alongside Sarah Palin, Lamar Smith, and Brent Bozell, Marc Morano’s Climate Depot reports. [35]

Climate Hustle was produced by the Committee for Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and CDR Communications. As noted at Desmog’s project, ClimateHustler.org,  CFACT has received funding from ExxonMobil, Chevron, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundations associated with Richard Mellon Scaife. CFACT has also received at least $7.8 million in “dark money” through DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund[32], [33]

CDR Communications was behind the 2010 video by the Cornwall Alliance titled Resisting the Green Dragon, which claimed environmentalism was a “false religion” and a “global government” power grab. Chris Rogers of CDR Communictions is also chairman of The James Partnership, the umbrella arm that includes the Cornwall Alliance as one of its projects and pays the salary of Calvin Beisner, Cornwall’s founder and spokesperson. [34]

Individuals listed as “Key Scientists” in Climate Hustle include the following: [32]

June 11-12, 2015

David Legates was a speaker on Panel 1: “Climate Science,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Willie Soon and Patrick Michaels. [20]

View David Legates’ Panel 1 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [21]

Legates was also presented the “Courage in Defense of Science Award” at the conference. [28]

May 12, 2015

David Legates is a signatory to an open letter to Pope Francis on climate change. The letter invites the Pope to reconsider his views on climate change before his upcoming encyclical letter on the environment, which is widely expected to call for measures to prevent climate change in the interests of the world’s poor. [43]

The open letter was coordinated and signed by Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance. According to the letter, “Good climate policy must recognize human exceptionalism, the God-given call for human persons to ‘have dominion’ in the natural world (Genesis 1:28), and the need to protect the poor from harm, including actions that hinder their ascent out of poverty.” [17]

Another excerpt below:

“[…] the [climate] models are wrong. They therefore provide no rational basis to forecast dangerous human-induced global warming, and therefore no rational basis for efforts to reduce warming by restricting the use of fossil fuels or any other means.”

Judith Curry comments on her blog Climate Etcthat “Arguably the most effective ‘pushback’ [to the encyclical letter] comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [18]

April 2015

David Legates co-authored a report, that has been cited in the media to claim that the 97% consensus is “bogus.” According to The Daily Signal, Legates, Willie Soon, William Briggs, and Christopher Monckton “found that a mere 1 percent of the 4,014 papers expressing an opinion on climate change claim that the majority of warming since 1950 is man-made.” [30], [31]

January 2015

David Legates is a co-author, along with Willie Soon, William M. Briggs, and Christopher Monckton, of a paper in Science Bulletin titled “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” (PDF). [22]

The paper concludes that “it appears that the impact of anthropogenic global warming over the next century, and even as far as equilibrium many millennia hence, may be no more than one-third to one-half of IPCC’s current projections.”

June 2014

In June 2014, Legates testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about droughts and agriculture, stating: “My overall conclusion is that droughts in the United States are more frequent and more intense during colder periods. Thus, the historical record does not warrant a claim that global warming is likely to negatively impact agricultural activities.” [38]

March 2013

In March 2013, Legates appeared on the same stage as Willie Soon at a Georgetown, Delaware debate on global warming. Legates told the audience, “There is no clear signal of sea-level rise in Delaware.” [37]

March 2009

David Legates was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2.) [73] His speech, titled “Climate Change and Extreme Events: Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics” can be viewed below.

The conference’s sponsors have received over $40 million from oil companies and right-wing foundations such as Koch Foundations and Scaife Foundations.  One of the main purposes of the conference was to cast doubt on the findings of the most recent Assessment Report by the Independent Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

October 2009

David Legates signed an open letter to the EPA opposing the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases. According to the letter, submitted to EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson, “there is no known credible reason why further increasing CO2 levels will cause harm in the future.” [36]

May 2008

Appeared in a video titled “Unstoppable Solar Cycles: The Real Story of Greenland” alongside prominent skeptic Willie Soon. The video, produced by the Idea Channel and funded by the Heartland Institute, contends that solar cycles are the sole driver behind climate change.

The Heartland Institute distributed over 11,000 brochures and DVDs to Canadian Schools, with their goal being for students to receive a “‘balanced’ education about an ‘important and controversial issue’.” [6]

Rie Oldenburg, curator of the Narsaq Museum in Southern Greenland, says she was told that she was contributing to a video on Norse history. But she was horrified to learn that the interview was used to contribute to a DVD that denies the human contribution to climate change.

March 30, 2008

David Legates spoke at the First International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC1) sponsored by the Heartland Institute. His speech, titled “Global Warming and the Hydrologic Cycle” can be viewed below. [40]

February, 2007

Legates was reportedly ordered by the Governor of Delaware to stop using the title of “State Climatologist” when making statements about global warming. Legates used the “State Climatologist” tag when he co-wrote a friend-of-the-court legal brief opposing an attempt by Delaware and other states to force the federal regulation of greenhouse gases. The brief was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. [7]

In response to the use of the title “State Climatologist,” Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) wrote to Legates:

“Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.”

February 24, 2016

David Legates’s work is featured in Shattered Consensus, a book comprised of “nine expert essays on global warming,” describes the George C. Marshall Institute. Legates was one of the four authors who discussed their chapters at a Marshall Institute event. [27] In addition to Legates, authors included Ross McKitrick, Patrick Michaels, and Oliver W. Frauenfeld. Slides from Legate’s presentation can be viewed here (PDF). [26]

July 2006

Legates was a speaker at an event celebrating the release of a paper by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) titled “A Call to Truth, Prudence and the Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.” Authors of the paper include prominent climate change skeptics including Calvin BeisnerPaul K. DriessenRoss McKitrick and Roy W. Spencer. [8]

“A Call to Truth” refutes, on a point-by-point basis, an open letter by another Evangelical organization titled “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” which supports the existence of man-made climate change. [41], [42]

The ISA paper contends that “All of these assumptions [by ‘An Evangelical Call to Action’] . . . are false, probably false, or exaggerated.”

According to their website, the ISA is “a coalition of religious leaders, clergy, theologians, scientists, academics, and other policy experts committed to bringing a proper and balanced Biblical view of stewardship to the critical issues of environment and development.” The group was renamed in 2007 as the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

Legates was a “review editor” at the journal “Climate Research” when the controversial Soon/Baliunas paper attacking Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick was published. He went on to co-author an update to the paper, publishing in discredited journal Energy and Environment with Soon, Baliunas, and both Craig and Sherwood Idso.

According to Legates’ testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee in July 2003: [54]

“I will say with respect to Climate Research, Otto Kinne, who is director of Inter-Research, the parent organization of Climate Research, asked Chris de Freitas who was the editor who served on the Soon and Baliunus papers, and I can relay this because I am a review editor of Climate Research so I am familiar with what has been taking place.”


David Legates appeared to be one of the recipients of an email Willie Soon sent to a group of friends in 2003, planning to criticize the IPCC’s AR4 report before it was written. [44]


*ExxonSecrets and other sources have listed Legates as an “Adjunct Scholar” with the CEI, but this information has been since removed from the CEI website. Legates is listed among CEI’s “alumni, and CEI currently maintains a blank contributor page for a “David Legates.” [16], [45]


The NCPA also has a history with tobacco company Philip Morris. For example, in a 1998 Philip Morris document titled “third-party public policy activity,” the NCPA is listed as an anti-government regulations group that “will write op-eds.” [49]

The CEI receives some of the highest levels of corporate funding of any conservative think-tank, and ExxonSecrets reports them to be “at the center of the global warming misinformation campaign.”[45]


“New Perspectives on Climate Change” (PDF) indicts the IPCC, describing any research done by them as “misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong.”  The Independent Institute’s report summary describes Legates as a “internationally recognized…authority on climate change.”

  • Washington Roundtable on Science & Public Policy: “Global Warming and the Hydrologic Cycle: How are the Occurrence of Floods, Droughts, and Storms Likely to Change?” (PDF) April 14, 2004. George C. Marshall Institute.


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