David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist

Thu, 2011-07-14 10:01Ben Jervey
Ben Jervey's picture

David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist

David Legates, former Delaware State Climatologist

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.

Back in 2007, because of his stance on climate, then-governor Ruth Ann Minner insisted that Legates stop using the formal title in any public statements on climate change policy. Minner 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.”
Legates maintained the title, however, which is designated by the Dean of the public university’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
But this week, according to Legates himself, the Dean asked him to “step down.”
Legates sent the following note to his email list:
From: David R. Legates
Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM
Subject:  New State Climatologist
Dear All,
  I want to notify you of a change in the Office of the Delaware State
Climatologist.  I have been asked by our Dean’s office to step down and
the former Deputy Dean, Dr. Daniel J. Leathers, will be reassuming the
title of the Delaware State Climatologist.  He will be representing the
Office in Asheville and I hope you will welcome him.
  I thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Delaware State
Climatologist for the last seven years and to work alongside each of you.
Sincerely,
David R. Legates
The obvious question becomes: why now? Legates had endured as a denier in the role of official Delaware State Climatologist through seven years under Democratic governors who openly support action on climate change.

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. 

The timing could indicate that it had something to do with Legates’ close ties to Wei Hock “Willie” Soon, another prominent denier who has recently found himself embroiled in controversy. Late last month, Greenpeace released documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, and these documents reveal deep financial ties between Soon and many oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil. The most startling takeaway from the Greenpeace report was that Soon has received more than $1 million from the oil and coal industries since 2001, and that “since 2002, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.”

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.”

Previous Comments

OK….

Anyone… Tell me again that AGW is not a political movement!!!!

This Climatoligist is told his input is not wanted because he refuses to buy into the Hoax and you guys want us to believe it not about a political agenda?

I would say this Post pretty much tell the whole story.

“This Climatoligist is told his input is not wanted because he refuses to buy into the Hoax ”

Because of that juicy juicy oil money, mmmmm. Changing opinions like light switches.

The university was right to dump him. Its no place for someone who is supposed to have powers of scientific reasoning, who then jumps on the oil train & ignores it all.

AGW is obviously not a hoax (managed to fool the entire world and every professional scientific organization in every developed country, did they?). But I am not comfortable with the idea of a denier being asked to step down from his post unless they can demonstrate financial conflict of interest first (not later)–or perhaps demonstrate professional misconduct such as knowingly lying about data. Right now, I think this was a misstep.

By the way, AGW is not a political movement. Neither is the theory of evolution. Or that tobacco smoke causes cancer. Or HIV causes AIDs. Or vaccinations are beneficial. They are scientific theories/observations, all with overwhelming evidence to back them up and all with new evidence coming in every month to support them. They have, though, all been used and misused for political purposes.

In fact, many scientific achievements are used for political purposes (e.g. sending man to the moon…oh wait…that is a hoax too, isnt it?). Just because something is used/misused for political purposes does not negate the actual science…a distinction that is lost on many.

Unlike Dan, I think that it’s past time that Mr. Legate stepped down as state climatologist. When somebody claims to represent the state, and then deliberately misinterprets the data, it seems that the state is well within its rights to ask that person to step down, so that a person with a wider grasp of the issue - and more integrity that Mr. Legate demonstrated - can hold the position.

You need to prove your accusations.

But of course you can’t so in essence you have no case.

Legate simply represented the truth.
The fact that it is politally incorrect to do that in climate science is a travisty but it is what it is.

After 30 years and billions of dollars donw the drain trying to make the case for AGW it is way past due to put this failed hypothesis out of our misery.

Hmmm, this is a very revealing comment. You’re right, from this blog one gets the impression that Legate deliberately misinterpreted the data. This of course has never been shown to be true, but the impression is exactly as you say. If this isn’t character assassination or libel on the part of blogs like this, I don’t know what is. I hope he sues.

If the head of the Delaware Dept of Health services were using his office/title to downplay the risks of cigarette smoking, the State of Delaware would be within its rights to fire his *ss, even if he honestly believed that smoking was harmless.

The very same applies here – As a “climatologist”, Legates is as incompetent as a health official who really believes that smoking is harmless.

If Legates has deliberately and knowingly misrepresented the evidence, he should be fired for dishonesty.

If Legates doesn’t realize that he’s misrepresenting the evidence and has been making claims about global-warming based on his honest opinion, he should be fired for incompetence.

Either way, he should be fired.

Mr. Andrews, you have provided an excellent pithy comment on the workings of the scientific method. Each and every day more and more evidence piles up regarding the effects of the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation are having on our daily lives. It is no longer just something that our decendants will have to deal with…as some have claimed. Yes indeed the entire subject is politized, particulary here in America, which only adds to the noise and does little to negate the science. Yes that distinction is indeed lost on far too many.

Ben what did Legates deny? I don’t know the man but I assume you do. Does he deny that a doubling of CO2 has been shown in a lab to increase ambient temperature by 1C degrees? Does he deny that CO2 contributes to warming of the Earth. Does he deny that 60%+ of the current Arctic ice melt is caused by black carbon and ozone as was announced last month by Drew Shindell at the IPCC science policy meeting? Is he denying that ocean heat content has not risen significantly since 2003? Is he denying that satellites, buoys and tide gauges indicate that annual sea level rise has decelerated since 2004?

It would be helpful for those of us who don’t know this man to know what you know about his being a denier.

The next question is did his denial of whatever he denied impact is job performance. I am subject to an annual job performance as I’m sure are many others that read DeSmog. It would be acceptable to be dismissed based on poor performance but was that the case. However if he performed his job flawlessly and was dismissed, I would find it troubling. Would we accept the dismissal of a gay person, a woman, a minority, etc because of their beliefs? I don’t know enough to state that this is similar to the unfair treatment that Juan Williams received from PBS, and I hope only job performance was the criteria for Legates dismissal.

Power truth! We more power you! Ha ha. Blah blah blah.

I am concerned about the fact that Soon is able to represent himself as an scientist with a presumably highly credible organization when he’s for all practical purposes in the employ of Exxon-Mobil. Are Harvard, the Smithsonian, and Harvard-Smithsonian not concerned about how this undermines their institutional credibility? Do they not have the conflict of interest and/or disclosure rules in place to ensure that they do maintain their institutional credibility?

Jones wrote to Mann, “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin [Trenberth] and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” Trenberth is head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Phil Jones of Climategate fame from a release of his emails - If the media was not conplicit in this scandal, we would not be having this conversation. Thank God for the internet.

The papers were the kind of garbage the routinely earns undergraduate students grades south of a “C-“, so it is quite understandable that Jones was unhappy about their publication.

And Jones was venting in a private email message – he had no power to dictate to the IPCC what would go into the next IPCC report. And he wasn’t speaking for Trenberth, anyway.

Actually only a true rality denier would make such nonsensicle comment.

The papers were solid and reviewed and unfairly discriminated against because they were such a threat to the cult.

And nobody but cult members believes yur comment about Phil.
His comments stand on their own as testiment to the corruption and deciet that permiates the climate cult.

Remember to hide your decline….

Yep – those papers were every bit as solid as your chances of winning a spelling-bee.

Why did DeSmogBlog switch to allowing anonymous, unverified comments? The pile-on from these denier sockpuppets pretty much kills any reasonable discussion.

Desmog never had any discussion when the comments were more controlled. There were very few comments and they all said the same thing. It was polite boring golf applause. You want to go back to that?

The only value of a comment section is opportunity to challenge and rebut the article.

‘Desmog never had any discussion when the comments were more controlled. There were very few comments and they all said the same thing. It was polite boring golf applause. You want to go back to that?’

When offerings like these of Naughty NikFromNYC

‘—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–

Now moot is the gun barrel enforced religious symbolic act of mercurially sacrificing Edison bulbs while churningly turning remaining pristine winded hills and mountains and oceans too into power line and access path fouled support networks for monstrous bird-chopping industrial towers, shadow-casting bat lung blasting icons of the Church of Climatology, the swinging knives of The Green Bank Authority.’

and

‘hQIOA+c0mc6Civ2uEAf+PYEJPiYZaeMNL5JIffYBUscfg2nyqraT8ZnKZ84OcbdW
IZ2Ih/BcqeuMAwvlQzjMBOudv9MUnJTvYQG/pjOvhXW2uo66X56tsHzcde+wM9Ya
2LC5bPz41sUJKWKIRR6c8/VHeijXOnOrvjEsMGqUcAz4FRl1qxSp5WGmE7+GHy4h
my15EyZymyiFPCIMr/ew1cmqpJ2D+07ie3OSbKnE9wCo2RPsKxaP+NljX+wIV5Cw
KpEi3NRNgy5qDv3/9jv/XbfenFESrQvX51NvXVsDnREUdqCRNdmw/CHM7KLCZY5g
u4YlbTfikkJeuIFcS75U7nu95z1/sxlko1fpIbRnbQf/RIfH+u3qJmWxPXs1etB2
8LeEAK2eKnoOaPmLHpMmsJ056hxuch+X38r239Pug7iHs3oOgp/GtAiurZz4cQVU
OncUbYH9kCDCFwFd2TimQ39mX5y3OR0fpdZIb13FIgSxMhBzuC9S4N46SrZd/oQk
YZ/N14’

arrive I think that a toilet flush is in order. I am not sure what he is trying to prove. He with a PhD in carbon chemistry, isn’t that what we would know as organic chemistry? Whatever his education seems a little narrow.

Now as for Legates, here is an example of his non-science:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soon_and_Baliunas_controversy#Impact_of_the_criticisms

with further commentary here, as highlighted by other recent articles here:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/how-soon-is-now/

You should understand that any methodology that selects data points to arrive at a conclusion that satisfies the promoters of such work is not science but politically/ideologically driven cherry picking.

And you septics wonder wonder why we dismiss Soon, Legates, Spencer, Michaels and Lindzen as reputable scientists. Maybe they were once but no longer. Of course once a once respected scientist has decided that fame and fortune or more worthy than scientific integrity then it is very difficult, if not impossible, to regain the trust of the wider scientific community. Trust, like true democracy, is hard one and so easily lost.

I second Bills question. Why?

It might add more volume to the discussion, but it allows as you say numerous sock puppets to enter the debate.

Not only are they able to hide their mistakes & not take ownership of their mistakes, but they can log on from the same computer & post anonymously serveral times & pretend to be different people saying the same thing.

Astroturf sock puppets.

I agree Bill…why? Maybe email them and ask. I did but got no reply….not impressed Desmogblog.

Desmog has to make a choice between preaching to the choir and engaging the other side. I like to think they’ve made a choice for open engagement.

“I agree Bill…why? Maybe email them and ask. I did but got no reply….not impressed Desmogblog.”

To be fair to Desmog blog. I did a few weeks back also, but like you, did it on the weekend. They dont answer their emails on the weekend.

Give them at least until Monday or Tuesday to answer. They have got back to me when its business hours.

How typical of this site…. LOL

Baseless character assination of a respected scientist because they don’t tow the line on the religious doctrines of AGW.

Fortunately, most people with a working brain will see it for what it is.

Just more Smearing from the smear site.

Intense. Have you considered reducing your caffeine?

Kudos to the University of Delaware. The right decision given Dave’s close ties to disreputable and ethically challenged people like Soon.

Now when is GMU going to take action against Wegman?

Anyone making $100k a year had received roughly $1MM over a decade. This is true of most university professors. Does this make them guilty of pushing their funders’ views? Does academic ethics and honesty only hold for AGW proponents? Does not the idea come first, and then the funding, like everywhere else in academia? Would Greenpeace fund the likes of Soon, Legates, or Svensmark to research and prove their theories? Aren’t they entitled to seeking research funding like any other academic? Should they refuse legally valid funding from Exxon if available? Would Mann refuse Exxon funding were it his only available source for research money?

All these questions are rhetorical, no need for an answer, but those who know what I’m talking about, please spend a few seconds thinking about it.

The question that everyone here should be asking is, “What is the *quality* of the research funded by fossil-fuel interests?”

If Soon et al. published articles in leading journals that were widely cited (in a positive sense) by other researchers, and those articles opened up legitimate new avenues of climate-research activity, then I’d have no problem with the source of the funding.

But it’s clear that Soon et al. didn’t use their funding to produce quality research products. They published garbage that would earn undergraduates grades south of a “C-” at any reputable university. Just look at the quality of Soon’s “research”, from the Soon/Baliunas-2003 paper to his “research” on climate and polar-bears. It’s *garbage*.

We know that Exxon, etc. have the capability of funding top-notch research; they do it all the time in the areas of geophysics, petroleum geology, etc. related to their core business.

But when it comes to climate-research, Exxon and other fossil-fuel interests always seem to fund losers and “back-benchers” whose published work, if turned as undergraduate research papers, would likely land them on academic probation at any first/second-tier university.

Good points Albert.

Of course funding sources dont determine validity of credibility but warmsist have so little to support their agenda, they have to resort to smearing anyone that gets funding from any source they dont like.

It simply shows how weak their postition is.

If AGW had any credible support, smear tactics would not be required.

So, how many of your debunkers of AGW have published a single peer reviewed paper on detection and attribution? Don’t put that coffee down, you only need the one hand.

[x]

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

The Amazon rainforest is magnificent. Watching programs about it, we’re amazed by brilliant parrots and toucans, tapirs, anacondas and jaguars. But if you ever go there expecting to be overwhelmed by a dazzling blur of activity, you’ll be disappointed. The jungle has plenty of vegetation — hanging vines, enormous trees, bromeliads and more — and a cacophony of insects and frogs. But much of the activity goes on at night or high up in the canopy.

Films of tropical forests don’t accurately reflect the reality of the ecosystems....

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