Walter Cunningham

(Ronnie) Walter Cunningham


  • Doctorate (Incomplete), Physics, Institute of Geophysics And Planetary Sciences. [1]
  • M.S., Institute of Geophysics And Planetary Sciences (1961). [1]
  • B.S., Physics, University of California at Los Angeles. (1960). [1]


Ronnie Walter Cunningham (Walt Cunningham) is a retired American astronaut and a pilot of the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. He was NASA‘s third civilian astronaut.

Cunningham has also been a fighter pilot, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author of The All-American Boys.

He worked for the RAND Corporation prior to joining NASA and he has also served as the director of a number of public and private companies. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer in the U.S.  [2]

According to his professional profile, Cunningham has had chief executive and senior operating positions in venture capital, real estate, offshore pipeline and consulting engineering industries.

Stance on Climate Change

August 15, 2010

“After years of looking, I have not found one piece of empirical evidence that man-made CO2 has a significant impact on global climate.” [3]

Key Quotes

October 9, 2017

Following EPA administrator Scott Pruitt‘s announcement that the Trump administration would be scrapping the Clean Power Plan, Cunningham declared: [42]

It is wonderful to see our government getting back to reality.” [42]

October 31, 2014

Speaking at a CFACT Collegians event at the University of Minnesota, as reported by CFACT, Cunningham said: [14]

“I’m here to encourage everyone to look at the data themselves, not just buy what they’re told. I find that my standards for science are more important to me than anything else, and I hate to see them being depreciated by the alarmists’ claims today. Politics and the media and what have you have allowed us now to be facing one of the biggest scientific hoaxes in history. That’s what’s being pushed on us.” [14]

November, 2013

“In the 1980s a small group of individuals became concerned about the Earth’s temperature and what it might do in the future. I hesitate to call them scientists because they have abandoned their scientific principals by which their guess about temperature increases and the cause could achieve scientific acceptance or rejection.” [18]

NASA’s Aqua satellite is showing that water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, works to offset the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This information, contrary to the assumption used in all the warming models, is ignored by global warming alarmists.

“[…] For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric CO2 has continued to accumulate—up about 4 percent in the last 10 years—the global mean temperature has remained flat. That should raise obvious questions about CO2 being the cause of climate change.

August 6, 2013

In an interview with Forbes magazine, Walter Cunningham said:

 “But, when it comes to global warming, the public- at-large really doesn’t know whom to believe anymore. And NASA has contributed to that confusion.” [23]

January, 2010

”[…] global warming alarmists invariably try to make their case by resorting to rhetoric, dogma, opinion, and emotion. The closest thing to scientific data in their articles is the occasional chart claiming a poorly understood correlation between atmospheric CO2 and the Earth’s temperature.” [5]


”[…] The reality is that atmospheric CO2 has a minimal impact on greenhouse gases and world temperature. Water vapor is responsible for 95 percent of the greenhouse effect. CO2 contributes just 3.6 percent, with human activity responsible for only 3.2 percent of that. That is why some studies claim CO2 levels are largely irrelevant to global warming.” [4]

Key Deeds

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. [43]

Cunningham 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 InstituteCraig 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. [44]

The letter reads: [45]

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!”

March 23, 2017

Cunningham attended at the Heartland Institute‘s 12th International Conference on Climate Change (ICC12), where he accepted an award from the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), titled “the dauntless purveyor of climate truth award.”  [41]

May 2, 2016

Walter Cunningham was listed among “Key Scientists” appearing in Marc Morano‘s movie, Climate Hustle. The full list included the following: [31] 

Marc Morano’s Climate Hustle was released in U.S. theatres on May 2, 2016. Bill Nye described it as  “not in our national interest and the world’s interest.” [33]

The film was produced by the Committee for Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and CDRCommunications. As noted at Desmog’s project,,  CFACT has received funding from ExxonMobil, Chevron, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars from foundations associated with Richard Mellon ScaifeCFACT has also received at least $7.8 million in “dark money” through DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund[34][35]

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. [36]

Climate Hustle initially premiered on December 7, 2015 in Paris, France during the COP21 United Nations summit on climate change[37][38]

We are putting together what I think is the most comprehensive, unique, entertaining and humorous climate documentary that has ever been done or attempted,” Morano had said before the film was released. [39]

The reason that this is a unique film,” Morano has said, “is that we are going for a pop culture-friendly… sarcastic approach and we actually give both sides in this movie.” 

In an interview with Ezra Levant, Morano said: [39]

I am not interviewing a lot of the main climate sceptical scientists because I feel like they have been interviewed by many other people and their stories have been told. I am trying to find another layer of scientist whose stories have not been out there yet. You will see a lot of new names in this.” [39]

See a preview of the film below:

At the Paris premier of the film, reporters from Desmog and the Irish Times were denied entrance after having their RSVPs accepted days earlier. [40]

November 20, 2015

Walter Cunningham, as part of “The Right Climate Stuff Research Team,” spoke at an event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation titled “At the Crossroads Energy & Climate Policy Summit.” He spoke alongside other TRCS members including Harold Doiron and Dr. George L. Stegemeier, to “set the record straight on climate science.” [32]

Event speakers included:

Robert E. MurrayFounder, Chairman, President, and CEO of Murray Energy Corporation, the nation’s largest underground coal mining commpany.
H. Leighton StewardMember,
Dr. Don EasterbrookProfessor Emeritus of Geology at Western Washington University
Dr. Will HapperCyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, Emeritus, Princeton University
Dr. Richard LindzenAlfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, MIT
Dr. Patrick MooreAuthor and founding member of Greenpeace
Dr. E. Calvin BeisnerSpokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation
Horace CooperAdjunct Fellow, National Center for Public Policy Research
Dr. Caleb RossiterAdjunct Professor, School of International Service and Adjunct Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, College of Arts and Sciences at American University
Mark P. MillsSenior Fellow, Manhattan Institute and founder andCEO, Digital Power Group
Dr. Hal DoironFormer NASA Engineer and Chairman, The Right Climate Stuff Research Team
Walter CunninghamFighter Pilot, Col. USMCR-Ret.; Physicist; Apollo 7 Astronaut
Dr. George L. StegemeierPresident, GLS Engineering, Inc.
Stephen MooreDistinguished Visiting Fellow on the Project for Economic Growth at the Heritage Foundation
Robert L. Bradley Jr.CEO, Institute for Energy Research
Mike NasPartner, Environmental and Legislative Affairs Practice Group, Jackson Walker L.L.P.
Marc MoranoFounder,
Ray GiffordPartner, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
Brian LloydExecutive Director, Public Utility Commission of Texas
John CornynU.S. Senator and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn

June 11–12, 2015

Walter Cunningham was a speaker on Panel 13: “The Right Climate Stuff,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Tom Wysmuller and Hal Doiron. [29]

View Walter Cunningham’s Panel 13 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [30]

May 12, 2015

Walter Cunningham 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. 

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.” [20]

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’ comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [21] 

February, 2015

Walter Cunningham attended a meeting of the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee, chaired by republican Senator Ted Cruz, as reported in a Scientific American article titled “The Shifting Politics of NASA‘s Astronaut Program.” 

In Cunningham’s written testimony (PDF), he suggests that “NASA should be more on their science obligations and avoid any associated political issues,” specifically that “humans are the cause of global warming.” Cunningham said that “The space agency compromises its scientific credibility by participating in the politics surrounding one of the great scientific hoaxes in history.” [24]. [25]

July 7–9, 2014

Walter Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [19]

DeSmogBlog has done in-depth research on the other speakers and sponsors from Heartland’s ICCC9, which can be found here.

December, 2014

Walter Cunningham participated in a press conference put on by The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) at the same time as international talks in Lima, Peru (DeSmogBlog reported on the event here).[26]

In addition to Walter Cunningham, CFACT‘s communications director Marc Morano and Executive Director Craig Rucker spoke at the event. 

“The climate on our planet has been changing for billions of years. And life on our planet has evolved by adapting to those changes. Today, global warming alarmists want us to believe that climate change is a threat to our civilization when it really is a program for governmental control of our energy consumption and our standard of living. One of the greatest scientific hoaxes in history,” Cunningham said in his speech. [27]

October, 2014

Walter Cunningham gave a speech at a CFACT Collegians event at the University of Minnesota, and was interviewed by the ABC Affiliate KSTP. The story was re-posted at Somewhat Reasonable, the Heartland Institute‘s blog. Cunningham had this to say:

“I’m here to encourage everyone to look at the data themselves, not just buy what they’re told. I find that my standards for science are more important to me than anything else, and I hate to see them being depreciated by the alarmists’ claims today. Politics and the media and what have you have allowed us now to be facing one of the biggest scientific hoaxes in history. That’s what’s being pushed on us.” [22]

August 6, 2013

In an interview with Larry Bell in a Forbes article titled “A Conversation With Apollo Astronaut Walter Cunningham About A Vital Need To Restore Climate Science Integrity,” Walter Cunningham takes the opportunity to explain why he “is an outspoken critic of pseudo-scientific climate alarmist claims.” 

According to Larry Bell, “when it comes to global warming, the public- at-large really doesn’t know whom to believe anymore. And NASA has contributed to that confusion.” He says that NASA should be “emphasizing to the media that human- caused global warming is a hypothesis, not a scientific fact.”[23]

March, 2013

Walter Cunningham is part of a group that calls themselves “The Right Climate Stuff” (TRCS). 

On March 15, 2013,  Cunningham, alongside Thomas Wysmuller, Harold Doiron, and Heartland President Joseph Bast spoke at a panel discussion where they explain “why they are urging government agencies to cease their ‘unbridled advocacy’ of Anthropogenic Global Warming & Return Integrity to the Scientific Method.” [28]

In January 2013, TRCS issued this summary of its findings as follows (according to a press release issued by The Heartland Institute):

  1. The science that predicts the extent of anthropogenic global warming is not settled science.
  2. There is no convincing physical evidence of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
  3. Computer models need to be validated before being used in critical decision-making.
  4. Because there is no immediate threat of global warming requiring swift corrective action, we have time to study global climate changes and improve our prediction accuracy.
  5. The U.S. government is over-reacting to concerns about anthropogenic global warming.
  6. A wider range of solution options should be studied for global warming or cooling threats from any credible cause.

July 10, 2012

Walter Cunningham authored an article in Space News titled “Winning the War with Global Warming Alarmists” where he lists a number of “tactics” that he suggests climate change skeptics adopt, “especially when dealing with the media.” According to Cunningham, “At this stage in the war on human-caused global warming, the battle for public perception may be more critical than the scientific fight, and this battle should not be beneath the dignity of climate science realists.” 

He also criticizes NASA‘s stance on global warming, suggesting that “Claims by NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are inconsistent with hundreds of thousands of years of empirical data.” [13]

May 21–23, 2012

Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [6]

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland’s ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations.

March 28, 2012

Cunningham was one of 49 former NASA scientists to sign an open letter to NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to cease their “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change.” [10]

“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated,” the letter stated.

SkepticalScience published a critique on the claims made in the letter. Their critique was republished in The Guardian. [11], [12]

May 16–18, 2010

Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s 2010 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [7]

February 2010

The Heartland Institute published an article by Cunningham titled “Global Warming Fact Versus Faith: One Astronaut’s Views” (PDF).

In his article, Cunningham argues that climate change skeptics “hold the high ground scientifically” over those who accept man-made climate change. He frames the debate as being similar to “the battle over evolution versus creationism” where “facts are pitted against faith and science against religion.”

In Cunningham’s view, those who accept man-made climate change “Faith” while skeptics are on the side of “Science.” As evidence for this view, he cites a (since debunked) U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report that “identifies 700 prominent scientists who have publicly repudiated the alarmist position on global warming.” [8]

He additionally cites the Oregon Petition (which was also debunked) as proving that there is “convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” [5]





  1. Professional Profile: Walter Cunningham,” Accessed May, 2012.
  2. NASA Biography,” Accessed May, 2012.
  3. Walter Cunningham. “Climate change alarmists ignore scientific methods,” Houston Chronicle, August 15, 2010. Retrieved from
  4. Walter Cunningham. “In Science, Ignorance is not Bliss,” Retrieved May 3, 2012.
  5. Walter Cunningham. “Global Warming: Facts versus Faith” (PDF), The Heartland Institute, 2010. Retrieved from, May, 2012.
  6. Former NASA Scientists, Astronauts to Attend Heartland Institute Climate Conference, May 21 – 23 in Chicago,” (Press Release), PRWeb, April 19, 2012. Archived May 3, 2012, with WebCite.
  7. Speakers,” 2010 International Conference on Climate Change, January 16, 2010. Archived January 24, 2010.
  8. Inhofe’s 400 Global Warming Deniers Debunked,” The Daily Green, January 11, 2008. Archived June 30, 2008.
  9. Walter Cunningham,” Tech Central Station. Archived February 10, 2005.
  10. Gus Lubin. “49 Former NASA Scientists Send A Letter Disputing Climate Change,” Business Insider, April 11, 2012. Archived May 3, 2012.
  11. NASA Climate ‘Skeptics’ Respond with Science! Just Kidding,” SkepticalScience, April 12, 2012.
  12. Attacks on climate science by former NASA staff shouldn’t be taken seriously,” The Guardian, April 12, 2012.
  13. Walter Cunningham. “Winning the War with Global Warming Alarmists,” Space News, July 10, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.
  14. “Watch Apollo Astronaut Walt Cunningham blast global warming,” CFACT, October 31, 2014. Archived April 5, 2017. URL
  15. Walter Cunningham,” SourceWatch.
  16. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Walter Cunningham.
  17. Walter Cunningham’s personal website.
  18. Climate Denial Group CFACT Congratulates Australia During Warsaw Talks,” DeSmogBlog, November 19, 2013.
  19. Return of Climate Denial-a-Palooza: Heartland Institute Hitches Anti-Science Wagon to Vegas FreedomFest,” DeSmogBlog, July 7, 2014. Archived July 14, 2014.
  20. An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change,” Cornwall Alliance For The Stewardship of Creation. April 27, 2015. Archived with WebCite May 27, 2015
  21. Judith Curry. “Pope Francis, climate change, and morality,”, April 29, 2015. Archived with Webite May 27, 2015.
  22. Jim Lakely. “Apollo VII Astronaut Walter Cunningham: Examine the Climate Data For Yourself,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute blog). November 3, 2014.
  23. Larry Bell. “A Conversation With Apollo Astronaut Walter Cunningham About A Vital Need To Restore Climate Science Integrity,” Forbes. August 6, 2013. 
  24. U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commerce Space Competitiveness” (PDF). Testimony of Walter Cunningham, Feb 24, 2015. Retrieved from U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation website. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 
  25. Lee Billings. “The Shifting Politics of NASA‘s Astronaut Program,” Scientific American (Blog). February 27, 2015.
  26. Graham Readfearn. “Climax Denied As Climate Denial Group Hits Repeat At UN Climate Talks in Lima,” DeSmogBlog. December 23, 2014.
  27. CFACT: Fact Checking, Climate Science and Policy,” UNFCCC Webcast – Lima. December 11, 2014.
  28. Jim Lakely. “Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham to Headline ‘Right Climate Stuff’ Event at CPAC 2013,” The Heartland Institute, March 8, 2013.
  29. Speakers,” Heartland Institute. Archived June 30, 2015.
  30. Panel 13: The Right Climate Stuff with Walter Cunningham, Tom Wysmuller, and Hal Doiron,” Heartland Institute, June 12, 2015. Archived July 15, 2015.
  31. “Background on Key Scientists Appearing in Climate Hustle” (PDF), Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.
  32. At The CrossRoads Energy & Climate Policy Summit,” Archived July 4, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at DesmogBlog
  33. ‘Climate Hustle’ debuts as skeptics take on global-warming ‘consensus’,” The Washington Times, May 1, 2016. Archived August 26, 2016. URL:
  34. Background on Climate Hustle Host and Producers,” Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.
  35. Homepage, URL
  36. Graham Readfearn. “The Evangelical Christian Climate Deniers Behind Marc Morano’s Climate Hustle Documentary,” Desmog, November 19, 2015.
  37. Matthew Kasper, “Climate Hustle, Latest Global Warming Denial Documentary, Set For World Premiere In Paris During COP21,” Republic Report, November 13, 2015. URL
  38. Climate Hustle,” SourceWatch, accessed November 14, 2015. URL
  39. Graham Readfearn. “Marc Morano’s Climate Hustle Film Set For Paris Premiere With Same Old Denial Myths,” Desmog, November 12, 2015.
  40. Graham Readfearn. “The Fakery of the Paris ‘Red Carpet’ Premiere of Marc Morano’s Climate Hustle Film,” Desmog, December 30, 2015.
  41. WALTER CUNNINGHAM,” Archived April 6, 2017. URL: 
  42. PRESS RELEASE: HEARTLAND INSTITUTE EXPERTS REACT TO EPA SCRAPPING THE CLEAN POWER PLAN,” The Heartland Institute, October 9, 2017. Archived October 10, 2017. URL:
  43. Robin Pogrebin and Somini Sengupta. “A Science Denier at the Natural History Museum? Scientists Rebel,” The New York Times, January 25, 2018. Archived February 13, 2018. URL
  44. Graham Readfearn. “Climate Science Deniers Defend New York’s American Museum of Natural History From Calls to Drop Trustee Rebekah Mercer,” DeSmog, February 6, 2018.
  45. mnh18-feb4-petitionletter (PDF – Untitled). Retrieved from Watts Up With That.

Related Profiles

APCO Worldwide Background APCO has been described as “one of the world's most powerful PR firms.”“Public Relations Firms Database: APCO Worldwide,” O'Dwyers. URL: https://arc...
Hugh W. Ellsaesser Credentials Ph.D., Meteorology.“Re: Global warming: It's happening,” Letter to NaturalSCIENCE, January 29, 1998. Archived July 28, 2011. URL: https://arch...
Alfred (Al) Pekarek Credentials Ph.D., University of Wyoming (1974).“Faculty/Staff,” St. Cloud State University. Archived May 28, 2010. URL: ...
Benny Josef Peiser Credentials Ph.D. , University of Frankfurt (1993). Peiser studied political science, English, and sports science. [1], [2] Background Benny Peiser is a sports ...