Indur M. Goklany

Indur M. Goklany


  • Ph. D., Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University (1973). [1]
  • M.S., Electrical Engineering, Michigan State University (1969). [1]
  • B.Tech., Electrical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (1968). [1]


Indur M. Goklany is a senior advisor at the U.S. Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis. [2], [42]

On his website,, he mentions that has “worked with federal and state governments, think tanks, and the private sector for over 35 years.” Goklany was the Julian Simon Fellow at the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) in 2000, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (2002-2003), and the winner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Julian Simon Prize and Award (2007). [1]

Goklany has published with numerous think tanks that question man-made climate change including the Cato Institute, which published two of Goklany’s books, and the Reason Foundation which published multiple “Policy Studies” by Goklany. He is also a guest contributor on the climate change denial blog Watts Up With That run by Anthony Watts. Goklany is also known for his promotion of DDT as a method to fight malaria, despite the possibility for more effective measures available. [24], [25][3]

He was involved in a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) film titled “Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies are More Dangerous than Global Warming Itself,” criticizing Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. He has also been affiliated with the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) and the International Policy Network (IPN). [14], [15]


According to leaked budget documents, Indur Goklany has received $1,000 per month from the Heartland Institute, an organization at the forefront of climate change denial, for his work on the “NIPCC Project.” According to the National Center for Science Education, Heartland’s Nonintergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has the primary goal to “convey that there is a scientific debate about climate change” and is created for the sole purpose of criticizing the IPCC[26], [27], [28]

“Goks Uncertainty Language”

The New York Times reported in March 2020 that, according to review of documents, Goklany was behind the insertion of “misleading language about climate change — including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial” while working at the Interior Department under the Trump administration. [39]

Internally, the wording became known as “Goks uncertainty language,” after Indur Goklany’s nickname. It included phrases that misleadingly suggests a lack of consensus among scientists that the earth is warming. For example, Goklany modeling “may be overestimating the rate of global warming, for whatever reason.” [39]

He also instructed scientists at the Interior Department to add that raising CO2 levels could be beneficial as it may “may increase plant water use efficiency” and “lengthen the agricultural growing season.” [39]

Samuel Myers, a principal research scientist at Harvard University’s Center for the Environment, said the language “takes very specific and isolated pieces of science, and tries to expand it in an extraordinarily misleading fashion.” [39]

According to the documents reviewed by the Times, Goklany began directing scientists to add uncertainly language in reports as early as September 2017 when he was newly appointed to the office of the deputy secretary. [39]

My edits are on the attached,” Mr. Goklany wrote in a September 12 email of that year, where he added mark ups indicating references to benefits of more CO2 in the atmosphere. He also included an abstract of a paper, and he wrote “that CO2 may have increased the water use efficiency of plants globally.” [39]

In December 2017 he gave a presentation at the Interior Department on the benefits of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide to “human & environmental well-being.” [39]

The Times reported that by early 2018, the department had a “de facto requirement that studies reference climate uncertainty,” pointing to sample emails between scientists. [39]

Stance on Climate Change


In his report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), “Carbon Dioxide: The Good News,” Goklany makes a number of arguments for the “benefits of carbon dioxide.” He also suggests that global warming could be beneficial: [18]

“It is very likely that the impact of rising carbon dioxide concentrations is currently net beneficial for both humanity and the biosphere generally. These benefits are real, whereas the costs of warming are uncertain,” Goklany wrote.

”[…] Firstly, the global climate has not been warming as rapidly as projected in the IPCC assessment reports. […]models have been running hotter than reality. But these are the projections that governments have relied on to justify global warming policies, including subsidies for biofuels and renewable energy while increasing the overall cost of energy to the  general consumer – costs that disproportionately burden those that are poorer.”

”[…] Finally, assessments of climate change impacts usually give short shrift to the potential positive impacts of anthropogenic global warming.”


“[O]ver the foreseeable future, the magnitude of the problem due to unmitigated climate change is generally smaller than that due to non-climate change related factors, and, where it is not, as in the case of coastal flooding, it is more economical to remedy it via  adaptation. Therefore, global warming is unlikely to be the most important environmental problem facing the world, at least for most of the remainder of this century,” Goklany wrote in an article in Energy and Environment journal. [4]

Key Quotes


Gokanly wrote an article in the controversial journal Energy and Environment, titled “Is Climate Change the ‘Defining Challenge of Our Age?” In the article, Goklany argued it was not: [5]

“Climate change is not now—nor is it likely to be for the foreseeable future—the most important environmental problem facing the globe, unless present-day problems such as hunger, water-related diseases, lack of access to safe water and sanitation, and indoor air pollution are reduced drastically.”

”[…] Future generations should, moreover, have greater access to human capital and technology to address whatever problems they might face, including climate change. Hence the argument that we should shift resources from dealing with the real and urgent problems confronting present generations to solving potential problems of tomorrow’s wealthier and better positioned generations is unpersuasive at best and verging on immoral at worst.” [5]


In the Spring 2009 issue of the journal Regulation, Goklany wrote: [6]

“Considering that future generations will be far better off than current generations even after accounting for climate change, it would be more equitable for today’s industrialized world to help solve the real problems facing today’s poorer developing world than to mitigate climate change now to help reduce the burden on future populations that would not only be wealthier but also technologically superior.” [6]


In an Energy and Environment article titled, “Is a Richer-but-warmer World Better than Poorer-but-cooler Worlds?” Goklany wrote:  [7]

“Strictly from the perspective of human well-being, the richest-but-warmest world characterized by the A1FI scenario would probably be superior to the poorer-but-cooler worlds at least through 2085, particularly if one considers the numerous ways GDP per capita advances human well-being.” [7]

Key Deeds

March 4, 2020

The New York Times, following review of internal documents, found that Goklany had been behind an effort to insert misleading language into at least nine reports at the Interior Department, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the West. That included debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial because it “may increase plant water use efficiency” and “lengthen the agricultural growing season.” The Hill also noted “Both claims misrepresent scientific consensus.” [39], [41]

March 8, 2018

According to documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and reported on at E&E News, Goklany was directly involved with rewriting the Interior Department’s public positions on climate change during the early days of the Trump administration. Goklany initially volunteered to rewrite webpages and policies shortly after the presidential inauguration and was officially charged with the task in May 2017. [33]

“I actually think that removing the Priorities page [on the DOI website] is better and more efficient than just modifying certain pages because climate change is not the only questionable priority on the current Priorities,” Goklany (signing off as “Goks”) wrote in an email to Doug Domenech, then-head of the Interior Department transition team. [34]

The email was released as part of a 1,284-page disclosure prompted by a FOIA request. Associate Deputy Secretary James Cason tasked Goklany with “reviewing and providing feedback on various documents and reports, including DOI and non-DOI reports, departmental manual chapters, and the information contained on websites,” including the agency’s climate change policies, according to a September 18, 2018 document. [35]

Documents revealed that Cason and Goklany corresponded directly on a paper to be released by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“Just an advance notice that we might not be able to get the paper to you by the end of the day,” Goklany wrote to Cason in a May 19, 2017 email exchange. “I was supposed to get a new version from them yesterday, but haven’t received it yet. Unless they incorporate all my comments, there may be some additional discussion that may entail a delay.” [36]

In a June 9 email, Goklany gave Cason and Domenech an updated draft mission statement and action list with new prioriteis excluding climate change. Goklany replaced “climate change” with “infrastructure maintenance.”

“With respect to existing webpages referring to climate change, the draft proposes to recall/revoke all of them unless the web pages relate to scientific investigations undertaken by or at the office that maintains the web page(s) and it is clear to the reader what precisely is meant by the term ‘climate change’ and context is provided with respect to climate history, its importance relative to other factors affecting resources etc.” Goklany wrote.

Goklany also wrote to Domenech on scientific matters. In a August 14, 2017 email, Goklany forwarded a New York Times article on the threat of sea level rise to Guam, countering that “Tide gauge data, however, doesn’t show any acceleration in sea level rise due to man-made global warming or whatever.” [37]

March 23–24, 2017

Goklany spoke on two panels at the Heartland Institute‘s 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC12). [23]

Panel 2A) Fossil Fuels and Human Prosperity

Panel 5A) Sustainability

October, 2015

Indur Goklany wrote a GWPF report titled “Carbon Dioxide: The Good News” (PDF), extolling the benefits of atmospheric carbon dioxide. [18]

A December 2015 undercover Greenpeace Investigation discovered additional details on the peer review process of the Global Warming Policy Foundation. William Happer said the GWPF‘s peer review process consisted of members of the Advisory Council and other selected scientists reviewing the work, rather than presenting it to an academic journal. [19]

According to Goklany, he had been approached by the journalist Matt Ridley (a GWPF academic advisor) to write the report. When Ridley promoted Goklany’s report, he described the report as “thoroughly peer-reviewed […] (Full disclosure: I helped edit the report.)”  [20]

However, when The Times reported on the Goklany/Ridley report on October 12, it initially described it as “not peer reviewed.” Within a week, The Times issued a correction: “We stated that Indur Goklany’s report, Carbon Dioxide: The Good News, has not been peer reviewed. We should have said it has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal.” [22]

Professor Ross McKitrick, now chairman of the GWPF advisory council, wrote to The Times on October 16 to tell the paper that the report “underwent detailed, independent peer review prior to publication.”  [22]

Matt Ridley also defended the report on social media:

Adam Ramsay, from openDemocracy, an analysis website, said: “The Times appears to have undermined its own reporter by wrongly correcting an accurate article which informed its readers that the GWPF report was not, in fact, peer reviewed.” [22]

June 30, 2015

Indur Goklany authored a GWPF paper titled “The Pontifical Academies’ Broken Moral Compass” (PDF) in response to Pope Francis’s Encyclical on the Environment[17] 

According to the GWPF‘s press release, the paper “finds the Vatican is being led astray by its advisors by statements on climate change that are scientifically lacking and ethically dubious.” They also conclude that using fossil fuels is beneficial to the environment “the beneficial impact of fossil fuels has not only been on human well-being but also on nature, because fossil fuel use has allowed more intensive use of land, thus reducing the amount of wilderness that has to be diverted to agricultural use. This means that the Vatican’s backing of reductions in fossil fuel use would actually reduce human well-being and increase the human impact on the planet” [16]

Goklany said, “The academies say that sustainability and resilience are being destroyed by over-consumption and that fossil fuels are to blame, yet almost every indicator of human well-being from life-expectancy to health to standard of living has improved beyond measure largely because of our use of fossil fuels.”

“[…]Climate change is a moral and ethical issue, but it is a strange ethical calculus that would justify wiping out the gains we have made in human well-being over the last few centuries at the same time devastating the natural world. The Vatican’s advisors appear to have lost their way.”

November 2014

Indur Goklany authored a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundatation that argues the 2014 report by the World Health Organization (WHO)—which had found that global warming would exacerbate undernutrition, malaria, dengue, excessive heat, and coastal flooding and in turn contribute to over 250,000 additional deaths annually between 2030 and 2050—was “fundamentally flawed.” [21]

Goklany argues that the WHO report ignores that low-income countries could “avail themselves of technology or take any commonsense steps to protect themselves.”

February 22, 2012

Representative Raúl M. Grijalva called for a full Natural Resources Committee hearing to probe whether Indur Goklany improperly received payments from the Heartland Institute while still receiving taxpayer dollars. Goklany was listed as receiving $1,000 per month to write a chapter on “Economics and Policy” for a Heartland-funded book (the NIPCC report) on climate science. [30]

The letter from M. Grijalva points out that employees of federal agencies are specifically warned not to take payment from outside organizations, particularly for “teaching, speaking and writing that relates to [their] official duties.” [8]

May 16–18, 2010

Goklany was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s Fourth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4) in Chicago, Il. His presentation was titled “Global Warming, Global Warming Policy and Mortality Rates,” and discussed “potential death and disease from biofuel production.” See video below. [29]

DeSmog has done research on the co-sponsors of the conference and found that 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) have received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobilKoch Industries family foundations or the Scaife family foundations.

March 1, 2015

Goklany was listed as a writer/endorser of a Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) briefing paper titled “The Small Print: What the Royal Society Left Out“ that accused the Royal Society of “presenting a misleading picture of climate science.” [31], [32]

As an example, the Royal Society addresses the question of why Antarctic sea ice is growing,” said Prof Ross McKitrick, the chairman of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council, “but in doing so they present a recently proposed hypothesis as if it were settled science. Failing to admit when the answer to an important question is simply not known does a disservice to the public. We believe that this new paper does a much better job of presenting the whole picture to the public.” [32]

The paper was written/endorsed by the following “experts”:

December 13, 2009

Goklany made a presentation to the University of Pennsylvania Workshop on Markets & the Environment titled “Trapped Between the Falling Sky and the Rising Seas: The Imagined Terrors of the Impacts of Climate Change.” [24]

August 2009

Goklany took part in a video produced by the Competitive Enterprise Institute titled “Policy Peril: Why Global Warming Policies are More Dangerous than Global Warming Itself.” [12]

The movie, narrated by climate change skeptic Marlo Lewis, criticizes Al Gore’s film, “attacking the assumptions cited as fact in ‘An Inconvenient  Truth’ and the solutions Gore proposed to combat the alleged disastrous consequences of global warming.” [12]

Goklany also participated in a panel discussion on the movie along with Marlo Lewis and Heritage Foundation policy analysts Ben Lieberman and David Kreutzer. [12]

March 2009

Goklany was a speaker at the Heartland Institute‘s Second International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC2) where he gave a speech titled “Programs & Science & Technology Policy, Department of the Interior Climate Change Impacts.” [38]

DeSmogBlog researched the funding behind the conference and found that sponsor organizations had collectively received over $47 million from energy companies and right-wing foundations, with 78% of that total coming from the Scaife Family of foundations.

October-December 2006

Goklany was one of the authors of “The Stern Review: A Dual Critique” which criticized numerous elements of the Stern Review.  Other authors included prominent climate change deniers such as Robert M. Carter, Chris De Freitas, and Richard S. Lindzen[9]

According to the critique, “The scientific evidence for dangerous [climate] change is, in fact, far from overwhelming, and the Review presents a picture of the scientific debate that is neither accurate nor objective.” One could interpret this last statement to mean that not enough evidence from the “skeptic” side was presented. [9]

Goklany appears to have contributed to both parts of the report, as his name is listed for both “Part 1: The Science,” and “Part II: Economic Aspects.”

Although the original Stern Review is not without its own faults, RealClimate concludes that “Stern gets the climate science largely right.” However, the dual critique published by Goklany et al has been criticized for its own lack of peer review, and citation of a certain paper by Khilyuk and Chilingar. [10], [11]



According to a search of Google Scholar, and a list of publications provided at Goklany’s website, it appears the Goklany has published numerous papers on Policy related to climate change, but has not published a single paper involving the Science relating to climate change. 

The majority of Goklany’s climate-related papers are published by skeptical think tanks and by the journal Energy & Environment which has been criticized for it’s peer review process and is noted for a tendency to published papers by climate change skeptics.

Sample Papers


  1. Indur M. Goklany: Brief Biography,” Archived February 20, 2018. URL
  2. OPA – Staff Directory,” U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived March 26, 2012. URL:
  3. Tim Lambert. “Indur Goklany, DDT and Malaria,” Deltoid, September 15, 2010. Archived September 21, 2010. URL
  4. “A Climate Policy for the Short and Medium Term: Stabilization or Adaptation?” Energy & Environment 16: 667-680 (2005).
  5. Is Climate Change the “Defining Challenge of Our Age?” Energy & Environment 20(3): 279-302 (2009).
  6. Discounting the Future, Regulation 32: 36-40 (Spring 2009).
  7. Is a Richer-but-warmer World Better than Poorer-but-cooler Worlds?”  Energy & Environment, vol. 18, nos. 7 and 8, pp. 1023-1048 (2007).
  8. “Dear Chairman Hastings and Ranking Member Markey” (PDF), Raul M. Grijalva, Congress of the United States, House of Representatives, February 22, 2012.
  9. The Stern Review: A Dual Critique, Part I: The Science (by Robert M. Carter, C. R. de Freitas, Indur M. Goklany, David Holland & Richard S. Lindzen), and Part II: Economic Aspects (by Ian Byatt, Ian Castles, Indur M. Goklany, David Henderson, Nigel Lawson, Ross McKitrick, Julian Morris, Alan Peacock, Colin Robinson & Robert Skidelsky), World Economics  7 (4): 165-232 (2006).
  10. Tim Lambert. “Khilyuk and Chilingar: the gift that keeps giving,” Deltoid, January 17, 2007. Archived December 30, 2010. URL
  11. Tim Lambert. “Paper claims human CO2 emissions are negligible,” Deltoid, December 6, 2006. Archived April 29, 2009. URL
  12. Adam Brickley. “New Movie Seeks to Refute Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’,”, August 14, 2009. Archived June 6, 2011.
  13. Indur M. Goklany. The Improving State of the World: Why We’re Living Longer, Healthier, More Comfortable Lives on a Cleaner Planet. Cato Institute, 2007. Page vii.
  14. Academic Advisory Council,” The Global Warming Policy Foundation. Archived August 17, 2016. URL
  15. Indur M. Goklany,” International Policy Network. Archived June 3, 2013. URL
  16. “On Climate Change & Energy, ‘The Vatican’s Advisors Have Lost Their Moral Compasses’” (Press Release), Global Warming Policy Foundation, June 30, 2015. Archived August 17, 2015.
  17. Indur M. Goklany.  The Pontifical Academies’ BROKEN MORAL COMPASS (PDF). Global Warming Policy Foundation, July 2015. 
  18. Indur M. Goklany. “Carbon Dioxide: The Good News” (PDF), GWPF, October 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  19. Lawrence Carter and Maeve McClenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” GreenPeace EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. WebCiteURL:
  20. The Benefits of Carbon Dioxide,” MattRidley Online (Blog), October 20, 2015. Archived October 22, 2015. 
  21. Indur M. Goklany. “Unhealthy Exaggeration: The WHO report on climate change” (PDF), The Global Warming Policy Foundation, November, 2014.  Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  22. Brendan Montague. “Matt Ridley Caught up in Dollars-for-Denial Scandal,” Desmog UK, December 11, 2015. 
  23. INDUR GOKLANY,” Archived April 6, 2017. URL
  24. Climate Change,” Archived February 20, 2018. URL:
  25. Tag Archives: Indur M. Goklany,” Watts Up With That. Archived February 20, 2018. URL:
  26. Brendan DeMelle.”Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine,” DeSmog, February 14, 2012.
  27. “2012 Proposed Budget” (PDF), The Heartland Institute, January 15, 2012.
  28. “Debunking the Heartland Institute’s Efforts to Deny Climate Science” (PDF),
  29. Indur Goklany, ICCC4,” International Conferences on Climate Change. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.
  30. Brendan DeMelle. “Congressman Calls For Hearing Into Heartland Institute Payments to Federal Employee Indur Goklany,” DeSmog, February 22, 2012.
  31. THE SMALL PRINT: What the Royal Society Left Out” (PDF), Global Warming Policy Foundation, 2015.
  32. (Press Release). “Royal Society Misrepresents Climate Science,” Global Warming Policy Foundation, January 3, 2015. Archived August 17, 2014. URL:
  33. Brittany Patterson. “Climate skeptic oversaw sprawling review of agency policy,” E&E News, March 8, 2018. Archived March 9, 2018. URL:
  34. Indur Goklany. “You’d be doing the new Secretary a favor if ...” Retrieved from E&E News. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  35. Climate Change Review,” Retrieved from E&E News. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  36. Re: USGS paper on climate change,” May 19, 2017. Retrieved from E&E News. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  37. Indur Goklany “Sea level rise in Guam,” August 14, 2017. Archived .png on file at DeSmog.
  38. “Second International Conference on Climate Change, Program,” (PDF) Heartland Institute. Archived January 23, 2018
  39. Hiroko Tabuchi. “A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research,” The New York Times, March 2, 2020. Archived March 2, 2020. URL:
  40. EJSD Homepage. Archived February 2, 2012. URL:
  41. Rebecca Klar. “Trump official inserted debunked climate change language into scientific documents: report,” The Hill, March 2, 2020. Archived March 2, 2020. URL
  42. PPA Staff Directory,” U.S. Department of the Interior. Archived March 2, 2020. URL:
  43. Indur Goklany,” PERC. Archived March 2, 2020. URL:

Other Resources

Profile image screenshot from YouTube video, Indur Goklany speaking at the  Heartland Institute’s 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC12).

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