Lead Author of National Climate Assessment Joins Billion-Dollar Dark Money Activist Group

Activist climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who served as a lead author of the federal government’s most recent National Climate Assessment, has accepted a position as chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy, a billion-dollar dark money environmental activist group. Joining The Nature Conservancy so soon after serving as a lead author for the National Climate Assessment raises ethical concerns, as The Nature Conservancy spends more than $1 million per year lobbying government – more than any other environment-focused activist group. In return, The Nature Conservancy receives approximately $100 million per year in government grants.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a dark-money activist group that does not publicly disclose the names of its donors. To the extent the identities of some TNC donors are known, they include major oil and chemical companies. Critics of the organization have presented evidence indicating TNC’s large corporate donors receive valuable payback for their donations, including excused environmental damage and greenwashing propaganda.

The environmental website The Good Human published an article titled, “Greenwash of the Week: The Nature Conservancy and Corporate Donors.” The Good Human describes TNC’s list of corporate donors as “a veritable who’s-who of planet destroyers.” The Good Human notes that oil and chemical corporations also are the core of TNC’s Leadership Council.

TNC’s president makes just shy of $1 million per year. Several other top staffers earn more than a half million dollars per year. TNC did not disclose how much it will be paying Hayhoe.

Hayhoe joining a deep-pockets, dark-money activist group so soon after leading the National Climate Assessment raises serious concerns about the revolving door of activists working in high-ranking government environmental positions and then selling that visibility and access to the largest bidder among environmental activist groups. Not only does that raise questions about improper influence Hayhoe may provide to assist TNC’s lobbyists, but it also encourages other government-affiliated scientists to take extreme, aggressive positions while in government positions in the hope of landing a similar position with a billion-dollar activist group.

Hayhoe joins a growing list of climate activists with potential conflicts-of-interest turning advocacy work while in government into lucrative positions with Big Environment. After serving as EPA Administrator in the Obama administration, for example, Gina McCarthy took the position of president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a position that typically pays over a half million dollars per year. Then, after serving as president/CEO of NRDC, McCarthy recently accepted a position as White House National Climate Advisor.

Similarly, Brenda Ekwurzel worked as a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) while simultaneously joining Hayhoe as a co-author of the National Climate Assessment. The UCS is another dark-money group, with $40 million in annual revenue, that does not disclose its donors.

In addition to promoting climate alarmism, Hayhoe frequently denigrates Americans who disagree with her. In an interview published yesterday in the Washington Post, Hayhoe said, “whatever the current issue of the day is — covid, school shooting — you can guarantee that whoever rejects climate change will also be adamantly defending the right of people to bear weapons and supporting covid myths and disinformation. It all goes together.”

Hayhoe, who asserts that she is Christian, singles out for criticism Christians who disagree with her. Said Hayhoe, “you have a lot of people who are just really confused because they hear people whose values they share, who call themselves Christians, who have called themselves Republicans or conservatives, telling people, ‘Oh, this isn’t real.’ ‘Those scientists are just making it up.’”

“I can’t remember where I saw this,” Hayhoe added, “but in the last election — not this one, but [in 2016] — they surveyed people who self-identified as evangelical who voted for Trump and asked them, ‘How often do you go to church?’ Fifty percent of them did not go to church. So the term ‘evangelical’ is now used in the United States for two very different types of people.”

Hayhoe also celebrated the COVID economic shutdowns of 2020 for their effects on emissions.

“We have satellite observations from around the world that showed that, as the lockdown progressed from China to Europe to North America, levels of dangerous air pollution dropped significantly in some of the most polluted parts of the world,” Hayhoe told the Washington Post. “At the same time, our carbon emissions dropped. So it’s estimated that in the month of April, at least, global carbon emissions were down 17 percent. … [W]e’ve seen what can happen. If we want to meet our Paris [agreement] goals, we have to cut our emissions about 45 or 50 percent by 2030. As of this time last year, that seemed like an impossible goal. Well, we got a third of the way there in four weeks. One-third of the way toward the Paris agreement in four weeks! It’s just stunning.”

Now, Hayhoe is cashing in with The Nature Conservancy for her prominent climate advocacy.

James Taylor
James Taylor
James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland's Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.

Related Articles


  1. Want to bet that Ms. Hayhoe has no clue that CO2 is the basic ingredient of life on earth – through photosynthesis? Or that the precious and rare CO2 has been declining naturally for the entire existence of multicellular life – declining from life-enriching levels ten to twenty times those of today? Politics like Hayhoe’s doesn’t even understand the scientific basics of CO2’s role in life or in climate. In climate, CO2 levels follow temperatures – they do not cause them.

  2. This post by James Taylor adds a worthwhile chunk of knowledge about Madame Hayhoe, who made an appearance of sorts as part of New Mexico State University’s “Climate Education” series; hers was in 2019. Her appearance on the scene represented a “target-rich environment,” in which to shoot numerous holes, which I have done at the Cruces Atmospheric Sciences Forum website, https://casf.me/
    Full disclosure, I have attended all the Heartland Climate Change Conferences since 2011, and James Taylor has used some of my materials in Heartland posts.
    My Hayhoe posts at CASF can be seen with this link: https://casf.me/?s=Hayhoe .
    To quote from one of those posts, “To prepare for attending Dr Hayhoe’s lecture, I watched one of her previous presentations, “Earthkeeping: A Climate for Change”. I found she’s an excellent speaker, starts by breaking the ice with a joke, has a down-to-earth manner, she’s engaging, has great audience rapport, especially with young college age-people, but her presentation is shallow, full of technical errors, and blatant misstatements of fact. Make no mistake, Katharine Hayhoe is a master of emotional manipulation and selective presentation. I recommend watching this video to see her performance as a master of propaganda. I think Hayhoe is as good a propagandist as Leni Riefenstahl, who produced “Triumph of the Will,” Hitler’s propaganda masterpiece.
    And, to see the deliberate mis statement of facts, yes, I think she is a blatant liar, please see my graphics ; observe where she says that she is showing the whole climate record, when she starts her temperature record in 1960, completely and deliberately missing the cooling from 1940 to the 1970s when CO2 emissions quadrupled. There is so much more, please look up my posts at CASF.
    James Taylor, thank you for your leadership on this, and at Heartland.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Reads

Latest Publication