A Free-Market Energy Blog

Stifling Climate Research & Opinion: Another Desparado Mistake

By James Rust -- March 5, 2015

 “With the exception of EPA’s Dr. Allan Carlin, I have never encountered a published view of a federal employee questioning that catastrophic climate change is caused by carbon dioxide.  The penalties from this conflict are too severe of loss of pay increases, promotions, or dismissal.”

In the past few weeks, statements of scientists challenging the hypothesis that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuels is causing catastrophic global warming are being criticized on ad hominem grounds. The charge is that there exists an inherent conflict-of-interest, owingto their sources of income, specifically income from fossil-fuel companies or pro-fossil-fuel organizations otherwise.

The starting point (it was surely orchestrated) was the attack on Dr. Willie Soon by the February 21, 2015 New York Times article, “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher,” by Justin Gillis and John Schwartz. The article apparently was inspired by a Greenpeace report that researched sources of income for Dr. Soon, who is employed as a research scientist for the Smithsonian Institute. (The Times‘ writers more recently published a piece that included Soon’s defense.)

Some of Soon’s income was funded by research grants from energy corporations, to do research through the Smithsonian Institute. The authors particularly criticize money spent by energy companies to investigate global warming, while ignoring the billions spent by neo-Malthusian environmental groups at war with our abundant, economical, and geographically distributed fossil fuels.

An example is the July 30, 2014, U. S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Staff Report “The Chain of Environmental Command: How a Club of Billionaires and Their Foundations Control the Environmental Movement and EPA”. The Billionaires Club gave Greenpeace $1.98 million from 2010–2013.

Mr. Gillis and Mr. Schwartz masquerade as science reporters, while doing the bidding of those promoting catastrophic global warming from using fossil fuels. They shortchange the scientific method and implicitly want stopped research into questioning the veracity of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change.  Their work has inspired others in the U. S. Congress to challenge freedom-of-scientific research.

Rep. Grijalva Witch Hunt

Citing the New York Times article, Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D AZ), Ranking Member House Committee on Natural Resources, sent a letter February 24, 2015 to the President of the University of Colorado demanding to know sources of funding and other information for Prof. Roger Pielke Jr., who has given frequent testimony before Congress on the causes and impacts of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide.  Congressman Grijalva wrote, “My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships.”

The Wikipedia biography for Congressman Grijalva claims he is among the most far-left of members in Congress, and KeyWiki describes numerous left-wing ties  during the Congressman’s career.

A portion of the letter follows:

What is CU’s policy on employee financial disclosure?  Please provide a full copy of all       applicable policies, including but not limited to those applying to Prof. Pielke.

For those instances already mentioned and other that apply, please provide:

 All drafts of Prof. Pielke’s testimony before any government body or agency or that which,     to your knowledge, he helped prepare for others;

Communications regarding testimony preparations.

Please provide information on Prof. Pielke’s sources of external funding.  “External funding”    refers to consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary, compensation, and other monies given to Prof. Pielke that did not originate from the  institution itself.  Please include:

The source of funding;

The amount of funding;

The reason for receiving the funding;

 For grants, a description of the research proposal and copy of the funded grant;

Communications regarding the funding.

Please provide all financial disclosure forms Prof. Pielke listing CU as his affiliation.

Please provide Prof. Pielke’s total annual compensation for each year covered here.

Thank you for your attention to this issue.  Please provide a full response no later than March 16, 2015.

The same letter was sent to six other university presidents involving present or past professors—Robert Balling of Arizona State University, John Christy of University of Alabama at Huntsville, Judith Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology, Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University, David Legates of University of Delaware, and Richard Lindzen of M. I. T.  For some of these professors, Congressman Grijalva complained about their presenting papers at The Heartland Institute’s International Conferences on Climate Change.

Adding insult to injury, this announcement was issued by the office of Senator Edward Markey—“WASHINGTON (February 25, 2015) –

Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) today sent letters to 100 fossil fuel companies, trade groups, and other organizations to determine whether they are funding scientific studies designed to confuse the public and avoid taking action to cut carbon pollution, and whether the funded scientists fail to disclose the sources of their funding in scientific publications or in testimony to legislators.”  Their letter contained this request:

“List of funded research efforts (including but not limited to grants, fellowships, scholarships, consulting contracts, contracts, honoraria, and speaking events) on or related to climate, climate change, global warming, environmental issues, air quality, atmospheric or oceanic topics, greenhouse gas emissions, associated impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide, methane, aerosols, solar radiation, vulnerable animal species or ecosystems, geology, paleoclimatology, meteorology, astrophysics, or heliophysics.”  The offended organizations were allowed up to April 3, 2015, to respond to the questions.

The Heartland Institute, which has sponsored  Nine International Conferences on Climate Change with hundreds of speakers, was one of the 100 organizations asked to respond to this madness.  Thousands of hours will be needed to produce the response.  The mountains of material generated by these requests will require thousands of hours of taxpayer-paid staff to sift through the submissions.  These four members of Congress are one of the reasons the nation goes into debt $1.5 billion per day.  Naturally, responding to their new nation free of fossil fuels will mark the end of the United States as an economic power.


Letters of this nature shake-up university presidents’ confidence in their faculty members.  With the short time for reply to these lengthy demands, the university presidents and professors will suffer great burdens.  Due to the vast amount of university funding coming from federal sources, Congressman Grijalva’s demands may coerce university presidents to explore means of terminating professors cited.

Craig Rucker of Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) reported a response from Prof. Pielke as, “Pielke says a ‘politically-motivated witch hunt designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name’ has caused him to end his research debunking wild claims about extreme weather.  Thus intimidation has silenced an experienced, well-qualified scientist from participating in one of the most important issue confronting the United States.

Daniel Malloy wrote an article “Views on climate prompt inquiry” on page B1 of the March 1, 2015, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  In the article he quotes Georgia Tech Prof. Judith Curry about her being one of the seven scientists targeted by Congressman Grijalva.  “So what is the point of asking for detailed financial information (including travel) from these academic researchers?” she asked.  “Intimidation and harassment is certainly one reason that comes to mind.”

Professor Curry also mentioned that last year she was on a Senate Panel on anthropogenic greenhouse warming with Prof. Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University.  He testified carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels was at fault and did not have the honor of a career-ending letter sent to the president of Texas A&M.

What About the Alarmists?

Does Michael Mann of Penn State University have to provide all his financial disclosures for the past 20 years when he provides testimony or interviews with the media?  The same could apply to Gavin Schmidt with NASA-GISS.  We should not forget James Hansen, who used to be with NASA-GISS, flew to the United Kingdom to testify in the defense of Greenpeace activists on trial for the October 8, 2007 vandalism of the Kingsnorth coal-fired power plant. How has former Vice President Al Gore increased his net worth by millions since leaving office?

Do financial disclosures apply to presidential candidates?  A February 26, 2015 report by The BLAZE was titled “Report:  Clinton Foundation Accepted Foreign Donation While Hillary Was Secretary of State.”  Another report indicated the Clinton Foundation changed names in 2013 with more Hilary involvement in fund raising with substantial sums raised from 19 foreign governments.

Sources of money supporting anti-energy programs are reported by Voice of America of Russia’s support of anti-fracking in Europe through donations to environmental groups.  The January 27, 2015, article in The Washington Free Beacon “Foreign Firm Funding U. S. Green Groups Tied to State-Owned Russian Oil Company” describes in detail laundering of Russian money through a Bermuda shell-corporation to many environmental groups that support anti-fracking and stopping use of fossil fuels.

These green groups, claiming scientists questioning fossil fuels causing global warming are supported by energy companies, need to show their conflicts of interest of financial ties to foreign organizations and U. S. government’s programs to suppress fossil fuel use due to questionable climate change research.

While campaigning in San Francisco during Democrat Party primaries in January 2008, Presidential Candidate Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board,

“So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant they can; it’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

At a May 29, 2013 Chicago fundraiser President Obama said, “I don’t have much patience for people who deny climate change.”  At his swearing in ceremony May 21, 2013, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz declared he is, “not interested in debating what is not debatable.”

These remarks echo the long-standing plea of climate alarmists the “science is settled” with regard to burning fossil fuels causing catastrophic global warming.

Would these statements come from true scientists interested in pursuing the truth about whether carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuel is a global threat? These remarks make very clear the policies of the United States government with regard to education or research on climate science.  If proposed education material or research does not support abandoning fossil fuels, go somewhere else for financial support and airing your views. Close the door on the way out.

EPA’s Alan Carlin Experience

The experiences of Dr. Alan Carlin with the EPA demonstrate problems with the Obama administration demands all communications must defend carbon dioxide caused catastrophic global warming.  In 2009 he wrote a report questioning the efficacy of human-caused global warming being used to support the EPA’s Endangerment Finding for greenhouse gases.  He was told to suppress the report, not speak about this, and work in other areas.  Dr. Carlin retired in 2010.

The conflict-of-interest on climate science is the most severe for those collecting funds from the U. S. government whether it is in the form of loans, research grants, or salaries.  The top administrators in all federal agencies like Departments of Energy, Agriculture, Interior, EPA, NASA, etc. have been vetted on their views catastrophic climate change is caused by fossil fuels. With the exception of EPA’s Dr. Carlin, I have never encountered a published view of a federal employee questioning catastrophic climate change is caused by carbon dioxide. The penalties from this conflict are too severe of loss of pay increases, promotions, or dismissal.

Remember Climategate?

The problems of writings and testimony of U. S. government supported scientists has been demonstrated for years.  In November 2009, one thousand e-mail communications among researchers at the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and United States researchers showed attempts at adjusting global temperature data and stopping publications of researchers questioning human-caused global warming.

This scandal was called Climategate.  In 2011, over 5,000 more e-mails were released.  A recent paper by James H. Rust “NOAA and NASA-GISS:  Helping the Warming Narrative” describes multi-year adjustments of global temperature data to lower early twentieth century temperatures and raise temperatures the last thirty years to show the influence of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide on global warming.

With any sense of fairness, Congressman Gripalva and others should make the same demands of full financial disclosure on those who testify in favor of catastrophic climate change due to carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels as those who are skeptical.  The best solution is to drop this intimidating nightmare altogether.


James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering and policy advisor The Heartland Institute.


  1. Assuming money corrupts and problems of false equivalence  

    […] The climate change related issue of mankind’s doomsday influence on Gaia is getting touchy. The latest is a push by Democratic Party elected representatives based on the assumption that any money used by those who do not agree with them is certain evidence of improper bias. James Rust reports on Stifling Climate Research & Opinion: Another Desparado Mistake […]


  2. gnome  

    So some pollies write to some institutions asking for lots of information. The obvious, two word response, can take a page or so to express diplomatically, but the meaning can still be clear.

    Minority Senators aren’t in much of a position to make major demands.


  3. Ray  

    Anybody whose IQ is higher than their body temperature knows scientists that work for the government toe the party line or else.


  4. Bill Vancouver  

    In addition to the ref links contained herein, I suggest reading some exposes from Green Corruption File. Also do the alarmists acknowledge the millions of birds and bats slaughtered annually by giant wind mills or solar farms like Ivanpah? During the 2008 elections, America was asked to believe in hope and change. Now I hope we can change back to the days when the scientific method was in vogue. The BHO regime is leading us back into the Dark Ages where science was conducted by consensus. The world’s last Beacon of Hope is being extinguished by crony capitalism and greed.


Leave a Reply