Climate Scientist David Legates Vindicated After NPR Attack

National Public Radio (NPR) posted an article Saturday attacking University of Delaware climate science professor David Legates. Legates’ sin is that he has just been appointed to a top position within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and he is not alarmed by global warming.

NPR, which mentioned The Heartland Institute in its article, reached out to Heartland for comment on a Saturday two hours before they published this story “on a tight deadline” for a story they were obviously working on for days. So, here is the truth about NPR’s allegations – paragraph by paragraph in its article – that Heartland was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to share with NPR prior to publication:

NPR’s lead paragraph:

“David Legates, a University of Delaware professor of climatology who has spent much of his career questioning basic tenets of climate science, has been hired for a top position at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

Legates has, indeed, been “questioning basic tenets of climate science,” if you substitute the word “science” for “dogma.” The very definition of science, in its most-basic sense from The Enlightenment to 2020, is “questioning the basic tenets” of current assumptions.

NPR reporter Rebecca Hersher appears to be ignorant of this basic fact of the scientific method. Worse, she’s paid, in part by taxpayers like you, to be a “science writer” for National Public Radio.

After some factual boilerplate, here’s NPR’s paragraph #4:

“Legates has a long history of using his position as an academic scientist to publicly cast doubt on climate science. His appointment to NOAA comes as Americans face profound threats stoked by climate change, from the vast, deadly wildfires in the West to an unusually active hurricane season in the South and East.”

David has not “used his position” for anything. He’s examined the data for many, many years and has not seen persuasive evidence that humans are the chief drivers of climate change. Americans in the West threatened by wildfires have the extreme never-cut-any-tree-down “green” polices pushed by the Sierra Club and other luxuriously funded leftist groups to blame for their misery.

By the way, this year’s hurricane season is indeed, active, but that is only getting back to normal after almost historic years of inactivity. But the legacy media ignores those facts. \

NPR’s paragraph #5:

“Global temperatures have already risen nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit as a result of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels. Warming is happening the fastest at the Earth’s poles, where sea ice is melting, permafrost is thawing and ocean temperatures are heating up, with devastating effects on animals and humans alike.”

There has been “nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit” … since when? The climate science reporter doesn’t say. And is it the result of greenhouse gases? There is no proof or evidence of that in the National Public Radio story.

Yes, the earth is warmer than it was before the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, when humans started burning fossil fuels and emitting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But temperature readings in the United States were warmer in the 1930s than today, when global emissions were a tiny fraction of today. That is the kind of fact that Legates examines as a scientist.

NPR’s paragraph #6:

“In 2007, Legates was one of the authors of a paper that questioned previous findings about the role of climate change in destroying the habitat of polar bears. That research was partially funded by grants from Koch Industries, the lobbying group the American Petroleum Institute and ExxonMobil, according to InsideClimate News.”

That was not just “a paper.” It was a paper published in the peer-reviewed science journal Ecological Complexity, which is itself a product of the highly respected publisher Elsevier. It is funny how NPR, pushing an agenda, fails to mention that very important fact. Legates didn’t just “write a paper” that “someone” published.

Polar bears populations are also thriving, another fact that is easily found and debunks the idea that their habitat is being destroyed. Research stands on its own on the science. Note how there is no attempt by NPR to counter the paper, just a smear. This is typical. NPR, like most establishment media outlets, never cites anything to debunk the science presented by “skeptics.”

NPR’s paragraph #7:

“The same year, Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner sent a letter to Legates expressing concern about his opinions on climate change, given that he was the state climatologist at the time. Minner asked him to refrain from casting doubt on climate science when he was acting in his official role. Legates stepped down in 2011.”

A politician definitely knows more about climate science than Legates. Sure. And, again, Legates wasn’t “casting doubt on climate science,” he was engaging in climate science. His sin was that his examination of the data differed from climate politics dogma. No wonder he resigned. He was employed by ideologues, not even objective laymen with an open mind.

NPR’s paragraph #8:

“Legates also appeared in a video pushing the discredited theory that the sun is the cause of global warming. In testimony before the U.S. Senate in 2014, Legates argued that a climate science report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change erroneously stated that humans are causing global warming.”

NPR provides no link to anything indicating the sun’s impact on climate has been “discredited”. On the other hand, the most recent publication by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) provides compelling scientific evidence supporting the common-sense notion that the sun plays a significant role regarding the Earth’s temperatures. See pages 174-186 of the 2019 NIPCC report, here.

NPR’s paragraph #9:

“Legates is a professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware. He is also affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a think tank that has poured money into convincing Americans that climate change is not happening and that the scientific evidence – including evidence published by the agency that now employs Legates – is uncertain or untrustworthy.”

If Rebecca spent even 10 minutes looking over Heartland’s website, or our Center on the Environment, or our climate conferences, or the Climate Reconsidered series, or our Climate Realism website, or our Climate-At-A-Glance website, she would know that Heartland has never posited that “climate change is not happening.” Such a proposition is absurd.

The question that The Heartland Institute raises — via the hundreds of scientists we worth with across the globe — is that humans are not creating a climate crisis. That is what the data shows, including NOAA’s data. That is far different than NPR’s strawman assertion that Heartland says climate change does not exist.

NPR’s paragraph #10

“Advocates who reject mainstream climate science, such as those at Heartland, have had a leading role in shaping the Trump administration’s response to global warming, including the decision to exit the Paris climate accord.”

Eureka! We’re making progress. The Heartland Institute did have a role in Trump rejecting the Paris Climate Accord and has helped shape his “response to global warming.” We are proud of that, and every American should be grateful. In truth, every word of this paragraph is an accurate statement, other than “reject mainstream climate science.”

“Mainstream climate science” is the Scientific Method. The Scientific Method encourages – indeed, demands – that theories be rigorously tested against real-world evidence. Even alleged “consensus” theories. NPR turns science on its head by claiming that when anybody trots out an alleged consensus of thought, those who subject it to the Scientific Method are “rejecting mainstream science.”

NPR’s paragraph #11:

“Steve Milloy, a Heartland board member and part of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, says he welcomes the Legates appointment. ‘David Legates is a true climate scientist and will bring a great deal of much-needed science to NOAA,’ Milloy writes in an email to NPR.”

I submitted independently the same statement to NPR. Well done, Steve!

NPR’s paragraph #12:

“But climate researchers slammed the NOAA decision to appoint Legates to a key scientific position.”

It is no surprise that NPR’s handpicked “climate researchers” – aka alarmists – are worried that David Legates will introduce the Scientific Method to NOAA. And David knows more about the climate and has researched it more than the very next person Rebecca quotes.

NPR’s paragraph #13:

“‘He’s not just in left field, he’s not even near the ballpark,’ says Jane Lubchenco, professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and head of NOAA under President Obama.

“Contrarians in science are welcome, Lubchenco says, but their claims have to be scientifically defensible. That’s why official groups like the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change review the entire range of scientific research before reaching a conclusion.”

The chances that Jane Lubchenco has read anything David Legates has written, or listened to anything he’s said about the climate, is zero. If she did, she wouldn’t say anything she said. David only cites data. And the reason why the Climate Change Reconsidered series exists is because they IPCC (a political, not scientific organization) ignored anything that went against their alarmist, pre-conceived dogma.

NPR’s paragraph #14:

“Over the last 20 years, in his work and public statements, Legates has rejected the overwhelming peer-reviewed research that shows human activity is the main driver of a dangerously changing climate.”

NPR presents no source or citation for the assertion that “the overwhelming peer-reviewed research that shows human activity is the main driver of a dangerously changing climate.” That is because NPR’s assertion is an urban myth.

Legates has examined the scientific data and come to a different conclusion than NPR. That is called science. And Legates has compelling presented his conclusions in public, repeatedly, for many years.

NPR’s paragraphs #15 and #16:

“Michael Mann, professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, says 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.’

“Mann adds: ‘At a time when those impacts are playing out before our very eyes in the form of unprecedented wildfires out West and super-storms back East, I cannot imagine a more misguided decision than to appoint someone like Legates to a position of leadership at an agency that is tasked with assessing the risks we face from extreme weather events.’”

The Heartland Institute is hosting its 14th International Conference on Climate Change in April in Las Vegas. The media’s favorite climate alarmist is welcome to come make his case, in front of David Legates, at that conference.

Michael Mann will refuse to defend his assertions, as he always does. (He’s blocked all who disagree with him on social media.) Maybe there’s a story there, NPR.

Professor David Legates, the truth vindicate you.


Jim Lakely
Jim Lakely
Jim Lakely is the Vice President of The Heartland Institute.

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  1. Michael Mann…petulant, vindictive, thin-skinned, disreputable…I could go on and on, but why bother. I would only ask him to point to the page in the Glossary of Meteorology where the term “super-storm” is defined. Useless hyperbole. Oh, and also please show us that lovely Nobel Prize he claimed for many years to have been awarded.

    He is an embarrassment to the Penn State Meteorology Dept.


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