David Legates

David Legates

David Legates


  • B.S. in Mathematics and Geography.
  • M.S. degree in Geography-Climatology 
  • Ph.D. in Climatology, University of Delaware.

Source: [1]


Legates is a Joint Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Delaware. [2] In 2005, Legates was designated as Delaware's State Climatologist. [3]

Legates was later asked to step down as State Climatologist by the Dean of the University. Although no one at the university was willing to explain the reason for replacing Legates as the State Climatologist, Greenpeace speculates that the reason may have been Legates's close ties with Willie Soon

Legates and Soon have authored numerous papers together, including a controversial 2007 “polar bear study” that was partially funded by Koch Industries. Legates was the co-author on four of the 11 papers that Soon received fossil fuel funding for – and failed to disclose in the paper. 

He is a regular contributor to publications of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), and is connected to numerous conservative think tanks that oppose climate change regulation or are skeptical of man-made global warming.

Stance on Climate Change

Legates is a signatory of the Oregon Petition, which states that “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth”

Legates has also said, “Overall, it appears that anthropogenic climate change estimates are still uncertain (given the discrepancies between most models) and scenarios derived from still incomplete GCMs should not be used to assess future climate change or make national assessments.” [4]

Key Quotes

Regarding the IPCC: “I am not a reviewer, because reviewing the IPCC allows them to put your name on the list, and then you become one of the 'major scientists,' twenty-five hundred or so, that are supposedly 'all in agreement.' I do know that there was a lot of concern, but not much of that made it into the final document.”

“The IPCC really is a sham because while it gives the impression of being a consensus of scientists, it is simply a political document prepared by advocacy scientists with a large ax to grind.” [5]

Key Deeds

July 8 - 10, 2016

David Legates was a speaker at 34th Annual Meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, co-sponsored by Access to Energy, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, and Physicians for Civil Defense. [24]

Legates's talk was titled “Freedom of Information Act and Academic Freedom in Climate Science.” [24]

DDP listed the following speakers at their event: [24]

June 11-12, 2015

David Legates was a speaker on Panel 1: “Climate Science,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Willie Soon and Patrick Michaels. [22]

View David Legates’ Panel 1 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [23]

May 12, 2015

David Legates 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.” [17]

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' [to the encyclical letter] comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [18]

June, 2014

In June 2014, Legates testified at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee about droughts and agriculture, stating: “My overall conclusion is that droughts in the United States are more frequent and more intense during colder periods. Thus, the historical record does not warrant a claim that global warming is likely to negatively impact agricultural activities.”

March, 2013

In March 2013, Legates appeared on the same stage as Willie Soon at a Georgetown, Delaware debate on global warming. Legates told the audience, “There is no clear signal of sea-level rise in Delaware.”

March, 2009

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's 2009 International Conference on Climate Change.  The conference is described as “a platform for scientists and policy analysts from around the world who question the theory that global warming is a crisis.”

The conference's sponsors have received over $40 million from oil companies and right-wing foundations such as Koch Foundations and Scaife Foundations.  One of the main purposes of the conference was to cast doubt on the findings of the most recent Assessment Report by the Independent Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

October, 2009

Signed an open letter to the EPA opposing the endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

May, 2008

Appeared in a video titled “Unstoppable Solar Cycles: The Real Story of Greenland” alongside prominent skeptic Willie Soon. The video, produced by the Idea Channel and funded by the Heartland Institute, contends that solar cycles are the sole driver behind climate change.  

The Heartland Institute distributed over 11,000 brochures and DVDs to Canadian Schools, with their goal being for students to receive a “'balanced' education about an 'important and controversial issue'.” [6]

Rie Oldenburg, curator of the Narsaq Museum in Southern Greenland, says she was told that she was contributing to a video on Norse history. But she was horrified to learn that the interview was used to contribute to a DVD that denies the human contribution to climate change.

March 30, 2008

Spoke at an event sponsored by the Heartland Institute. His speech was titled “Is Our Climate Changing? Are We to Blame?”:

February, 2007

Legates was reportedly ordered by the Governor of Delaware to stop using the title of “State Climatologist” when making statements about global warming. Legates used the “State Climatologist” tag when he co-wrote a friend-of-the-court legal brief opposing an attempt by Delaware and other states to force the federal regulation of greenhouse gases. The brief was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. [7]

In response to the use of the title “State Climatologist,” Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) wrote to Legates:

Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.

July, 2006

Legates was a speaker at an event celebrating the release of a paper by the Interfaith Stewardship Alliance (ISA) titled “A Call to Truth, Prudence and the Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming.” Authors of the paper include prominent climate change skeptics including Calvin BeisnerPaul K. DriessenRoss McKitrick and Roy W. Spencer. [8]

“A Call to Truth” refutes, on a point-by-point basis, an open letter by another Evangelical organization titled “Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action” which supports the existence of man-made climate change.

The ISA paper contends that “All of these assumptions [by 'An Evangelical Call to Action'] … are false, probably false, or exaggerated.”

According to their website, the ISA is “a coalition of religious leaders, clergy, theologians, scientists, academics, and other policy experts committed to bringing a proper and balanced Biblical view of stewardship to the critical issues of environment and development.” The group was renamed in 2007 as the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

Legates was a “review editor” at the journal “Climate Research” when the controversial Soon/Baliunas paper attacking Michael Mann’s Hockey Stick was published.  He went on to co-author an update to the paper, publishing in discredited journal Energy and Environment with Soon, Baliunas, and both Craig and Sherwood Idso.

According to Legates' testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works committee in July 2003:  

I will say with respect to Climate Research, Otto Kinne, who is director of Inter-Research, the parent organization of Climate Research, asked Chris de Freitas who was the editor who served on the Soon and Baliunus papers, and I can relay this because I am a review editor of Climate Research so I am familiar with what has been taking place.”

Legates also appeared to be one of the recipients of an email Willie Soon sent to a group of friends in 2003, planning to criticize the IPCC’s AR4 report before it was written.


*ExxonSecrets and other sources have listed Legates as an “Adjunct Scholar” with the CEI, but this information has been since removed from the CEI website. Legates is listed among CEI's “alumni,” [16] and CEI currently maintains a blank contributor page for a “David Legates.”


  • The George C. Marshall Institute has received over $700,000 in funding from oil-giant ExxonMobil.
  • The NCPA has received over $465,900 from oil giant ExxonMobil.

The NCPA also has a history with tobacco company Philip Morris. For example, in a 1998 Philip Morris document titled “third-party public policy activity,” the NCPA is listed as an anti-government regulations group that “will write op-eds.”

  • CEI has received $2,005,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998. They have also received signification funds from the American Petroleum Institute as well as from the oil-service giant Koch Industry's family foundations. 

The CEI receives some of the highest levels of corporate funding of any conservative think-tank, and ExxonSecrets reports them to be “at the center of the global warming misinformation campaign.”


Sample publications include:

“New Perspectives on Climate Change” (PDF) indicts the IPCC, describing any research done by them as “misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong.”  The Independent Institute's report summary describes Legates as a “internationally recognized…authority on climate change.”

  • Washington Roundtable on Science & Public Policy: “Global Warming and the Hydrologic Cycle: How are the Occurrence of Floods, Droughts, and Storms Likely to Change?” (PDF) April 14, 2004. George C. Marshall Institute.

There are additional samples of Legates's articles at The Marshall Institute


  1. “David R. Legates.” Profile at the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

  2. “People | David R. Legates,” University of Delaware. Accessed January, 2012.

  3. Prof named state climatologist,” U Daily, September 23, 2005.

  4. David R. Legates. “Climate Models and the National Assessment,” The Marshall Institute, November 10, 2000.

  5. Washington Roundtable on Science and Public Policy Climate Forecasts, Global Warming and the National Assessment” (PDF). January 23, 2001.

  6. Canadian schools sent brochures, DVDs from climate change skeptics,” Canwest News Service, May 4, 2008.

  7. Delaware climatologist asked to stop using title in official capacity,” Greenwire, February 22, 2007. Republished by the Heat is Online.

  8. Call to Truth, Prudence and the Protection of the Poor: An Evangelical Response to Global Warming,” The Heritage Foundation, July 25, 2006.

  9. Dr. David R. Legates,” George C. Marshall Institute. Accessed March, 2015.

  10. SPPI Personnel 2012,” Science & Public Policy Institute Website. Accessed May 27, 2015.

  11. Climatologist Exposes Cracks In Global Warming Foundation,” National Center for Policy Analysis, July 12, 2004.

  12. David R. Legates,” Profile at the National Center for Policy Analysis. Accessed January, 2012.

  13. Research Fellow: David R. Legates,” The Independent Institute. Accessed January, 2012.

  14. Heartland Experts: David Legates,” The Heartland Institute. Accessed January, 2012.

  15. NRSP People,” Natural Resources Stewardship Project. Archived February 13, 2007.

  16. Alumni,” Competitive Enterprise Institute. Archived April 4, 2008.

  17. 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.

  18. Judith Curry. “Pope Francis, climate change, and morality,” JudithCurry.com, April 29, 2015. Archived with Webite May 27, 2015.

  19. David Legates,” SourceWatch Profile.

  20. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: David R. Legates.

  21. David Legates,” Wikipedia entry.

  22. Speakers,” Heartland Institute. Archived June 30, 2015.

  23. Panel 1: Climate Science with Willie Soon, Ph.D., David Legates, Ph.D., and Patrick Michaels, Ph.D.,” Heartland Institute, June 11, 2015. Archived July 16, 2015.

  24. DDP 34th Annual Meeting – July 2016,” Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Archived July 22, 2016. Backup archive url: http://archive.is/oRn3j