David Legates announced this week that he was asked to step down as Delaware State Climatologist, a position he held for seven years. A long-time denier of the human contribution to climate change, Legates’ tenure as State Climatologist has always been a controversial one.
I placed multiple calls to both the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and was unable to find anyone willing or able to go on the record to explain why Legates was asked to step down from the position.
Soon, who is not a climatologist, but an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has made a living over the past decade by taking an outspokenly skeptical stance to man made climate change. Soon’s name is also often linked to Legates’: the two co-authored the notorious and mightily-debunked “polar bear study” paper in 2007, the two are both listed as “ “experts” for the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank that has received over $700,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, and Soon has referred to Legates as a colleague during Congressional hearings.
Further, buried in Greenpeace’s report is an eye-opening email sent by Soon in 2003 that anticipates the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and more than hints at an overt and calculated plot to discredit the report’s findings. The email was sent to five recipients, including a “Dave,” that Greenpeace analysts say is “most definitely Legates.”
Finally, Soon and Legates were the only two “experts” featured in an Idea Channel video that portrays current warming as part of a “natural solar cycle.”
Cindy Baxter of Greenpeace US’s Research Department believes that the University’s decision to replace Legates as Delaware State Climatologist likely involved his close ties to the controversial Soon. “When we were investigating Willie Soon, it became clear that David Legates was deeply involved in many of his fossil fuel industry-funded attempts to undermine climate science,” said Baxter. “It’s heartening to see that the University of Delaware has finally seen the light.”