John Christy

John R. Christy

John R. Christy


  • Ph.D. Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois (1987).
  • M.S., Atmospheric Science, University of Illinois, (1984).
  • M.Div. Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (1978).
  • B.A., Mathematics California State University, Fresno (1973).

Source: [1]


John R. Christy is a professor of Atmospheric Science and Director of the Earth System Science Center of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Christy has been Alabama State Climatologist since November, 2000. [2], [3], [4]

Christy is associated with climate change skeptic Roy Spencer, who is is best known for jointly developing a satellite temperature record. Christy also collaborated with Spencer on a George C. Marshall Institute Roundtable discussion on climate change in April 2006. Christy noted that the two of them had been described as “swimming upstream against the climate change debate.” [2], [5]

John Christy has testified on numerous occasions against the mainstream scientific views on man-made climate change including testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, House Committee on Government Reform, House Ways and Means Committee, and others. [6], [7], [8]

Stance on Climate Change

“I'm sure the majority (but not all) of my IPCC colleagues cringe when I say this, but I see neither the developing catastrophe nor the smoking gun proving that human activity is to blame for most of the warming we see.” [9]

Key Quotes

February, 2016

“The real world is not going along with rapid warming. The models need to go back to the drawing board.” [10]

June, 2015

“[W]e are not morally bad people for taking carbon and turning it into the energy that offers life to humanity in a world that would otherwise be brutal (think of life before modernity). On the contrary, we are good people for doing so.” [11]

April, 2015

“Carbon dioxide makes things grow. The world used to have five times as much carbon dioxide as it does now. Plants love this stuff. It creates more food. CO2 is not the problem … There is absolutely no question that carbon energy provides with longer and better lives. There is no question about that.” [12]

August, 2013

“I was at the table with three Europeans, and we were having lunch. And they were talking about their role as lead authors. And they were talking about how they were trying to make the report so dramatic that the United States would just have to sign that Kyoto Protocol.” [13]

February, 2013

“If you choose to make regulations about carbon dioxide, that’s OK. You as a state can do that; you have a right to do it. But it’s not going to do anything about the climate. And it’s going to cost, there’s no doubt about that.”  [14]

March, 2011

“…it is fairly well agreed that the surface temperature will rise about 1°C as a modest response to a doubling of atmospheric CO2 if the rest of the component processes of the climate system remain independent of this response.” [15]

May, 2009

“As far as the AGU, I thought that was a fine statement because it did not put forth a magnitude of the warming. We just said that human effects have a warming influence, and that's certainly true. There was nothing about disaster or catastrophe. In fact, I was very upset about the latest AGU statement [in 2007]. It was about alarmist as you can get.” [16]

February, 2009

“We utilize energy from carbon, not because we are bad people, but because it is the affordable foundation on which the profound improvements in our standard of living have been achieved – our progress in health and welfare.” [17]

December, 2003

In a 2003 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Christy describes himself as ”  a strong critic of scientists who make catastrophic predictions of huge increases in global temperatures and tremendous rises in sea levels.” [18]

Christy also added:

“It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the atmosphere and sending quantities of greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate change hasn't been increased in the past century.” [18]

Key Deeds

February 2, 2016

John R. Christy testified at a Congressional hearing, where he claims that climate change models should not be trusted. [19]

“I would not trust model projections on which all policy is based here because they just don't match facts,” said Christy. “The message here is very simple – the theory does not match the observations as measured independently by both satellites and balloons.” [19]

When asked about extreme weather events, Christy also downplays the influence of man-made climate change: 

“There's a little bit of hyperbole in things that people see changing right now,” Christy said. “They've always changed, I suspect.” [19]

Christy offers the following summary in his full written testimony (PDF) is also available. Full video of the hearing below. [10]

“The messages of the two points outlined in the extract above are: (1) the claims about increases in frequency and intensity of extreme events are generally not supported by actual observations and, (2) official information about climate science is largely controlled by agencies through (a) funding choices for research and (b) by the carefullyselected (i.e. biased) authorship of reports such as the EPA Endangerment Finding and the National Climate Assessment.”

December 8, 2015

Set to coincide with the Paris COP21 (Conference of the Parties), John Christy testified at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness convened by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) titled “Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climate.” [20] 

Christy suggests that a climate “Red Team” be developed which would “produce an assessment that expresses legitimate, alternative hypotheses” for climate change. John Christy's full testimony document is available here (PDF). [21]

According to the event description, the hearing will focus on “the ongoing debate over climate science, the impact of federal funding on the objectivity of climate research, and the ways in which political pressure can suppress opposing viewpoints in the field of climate science.”  [20] 

Other listed witnesses include:

June, 2015

In response to the release of Pope Francis's Encyclical on the Environment, John R. Christy published an opinion piece suggesting that burning fossil fuels is actually a good thing:  [11]

“[W]e are not morally bad people for taking carbon and turning it into the energy that offers life to humanity in a world that would otherwise be brutal (think of life before modernity). On the contrary, we are good people for doing so,” Christy said. [11]

Christy concludes that carbon becomes a “positive moral imperative to consider.” [11]

April, 2015

John Christy and Roy Spencer were the subject of an interview with According to The Guardian, which describes the interview as “revealing,” Christy offers an innacurate response on the 97% consensus on human-caused global warming: [12], [22]

“The American Meteorological Society did their survey and they specifically asked the question, Is man the dominate controller of climate over the last 50 years? Only 52 percent said yes. That is not a consensus at all in science … Roy and I have both made the statement that we are in the 97 percent because we believe in some (man-made) effect.” [22]

While Spencer and Christy claim to be oart of the 97%, The Guardian argues that they are now: 

“Spencer and Christy each authored five papers captured in our climate science literature survey. Among those papers, we classified one of Spencer’s and two of Christy’s as minimizing or rejecting the human influence on global warming, and the others as not taking a position on the issue.  

That makes both of them authors of the less than 3% of peer-reviewed climate science papers rejecting the consensus on human-caused global warming. This is an indisputable fact – the 97% consensus figure is based on our team’s categorization of the scientific literature, and we put their research outside the 97% consensus.” [22]

Below are some other notable quotes pulled from the interview, including Spencer and Christy's take on government agencies and fossil fuel interests:

NASA, NOAA, EPA, DOE, those are agencies. Agency leaders are appointed by the government, by the current administration. They do not represent objective independent scientific organizations,” Christy said. “They can’t. They are appointed by the head. They try. People who come out with different views in their organizations are found to be squashed. There is an agenda in those agencies … There are skeptics in NASA and NOAA, a good number. But they are quiet. They know in this administration, they don’t speak out.  [22]

Discussing fossil fuels, Christy repeats the common denier argument that more CO2 will boost plant growth:

“Carbon dioxide makes things grow. The world used to have five times as much carbon dioxide as it does now. Plants love this stuff. It creates more food. CO2 is not the problem … There is absolutely no question that carbon energy provides with longer and better lives. There is no question about that.”  [22]

December 11, 2013

John Christy joined climate change denier Roger Pielke Jr. to testify before the US Congress Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, chaired by Lamar Smith. After their testimony, Chairman Smith summarized that “The fact is there is little evidence that climate change causes extreme weather events.” [23]

According toThe Guardian, “ Unfortunately, like many such hearings, the purpose of the event appeared to be more about reinforcing preconceived notions than educating committee members. This was made clear by a simple examination of the invited witnesses.” Christy's opening statement was a often-used climate denier myth: “As the global temperature failed to warm over the past 15 years…” [24]

February 14, 2012

Christy released a study that claimed snowfall in the Sierra Nevada has remained consistent for 130 years, with no noticeable effect from climate change. [25]

James Taylor of the Heartland Institute penned a Forbes article where he claimed that Christy's findings “refute frequent assertions by global warming alarmists that global warming is adversely affecting Sierra Nevada snowfall and snowpack.” The climate change skeptic blog Watts Up With That also publicized the story[26]

When asked about the reaction to his paper, Christy said “In general, it depends on what religion you have. If you believe Man is doing horrible things to the planet, then you can’t believe this report. If you believe the other way, then this is a chapter in your bible.”

David Pearce, one of John Christy's colleagues, feels that Christy has gone beyond the data in his study, and that Christy is making claims in the media that have not been backed up by the study itself. Pearce adds that it “is unfortunate because peer-review is the process that filters out unsupported personal opinion from what is backed by evidence.” [27]

March 8, 2011

John R. Christy testified (PDF) at a hearing hosted by the Energy and Power Subcommittee to discuss “Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations.” [6], [7], [8]

Christy concluded that “if the country deems it necessary to de-carbonize civilization's main energy sources, sound and indeed compelling reasons beyond human-induced climate change need to be offered. Climate change alone is a weak leg on which to stand for such a massive undertaking.” [6]

February 25, 2009

Testified (PDF) before the House Ways and Means Committee at the “Hearing on Scientific Objectives for Climate Change Legislation.” [28], [29]

The American Geosciences Institute offers a summary of Christy's testimony:

“Dr. John Christy was skeptical whether there was any way for the U.S. to make detectable changes in global warming. He feared that the scale of carbon emissions is 'simply too enormous,' and the only possible solution is to start a large nuclear energy campaign. According to Christy, 'The actions being considered to “stop global warming” will have an imperceptible impact on whatever the climate will do, while making energy more expensive, and thus have a negative impact on the economy as a whole'.” [29]

One source responded to Christy's testimony, concluding that “John Christy has added to the science of atmospheric modeling, but he has undercut his credibility by making claims far exceeding his data and by ignoring findings that disagree with his arguments. Then he sins by distorting his testimony for a purely political agenda.” [30]

May 2, 2007

Appeared on the Glenn Beck Special, “Exposed: The Climate of Fear.”  Other  prominent climate skeptics featured in the film included: [31]

March 8, 2007

Christy appeared in The Great Global Warming Swindle documentary. [32]

The Great Global Warming Swindle also starred fellow skeptics:

July 27, 2006

John R. Christy testified (PDF) at a hearing hosted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the subject of “Questions Surrounding the 'Hockey Stick' Temperature Studies: Implications for Climate Change Assessments Part II.[33], [34]

Christy cites his previous studies that concluded “greenhouse gases are increasing in concentration is clearly true and therefore the radiation budget of the atmosphere will be altered. In response, the surface temperature should rise due to this additional forcing. In our observational work however, we have not been able to show clear support for the manner or magnitude of this response as has been depicted by the present set of climate models (Christy, 2002, Christy et al. 2006a, Christy and Norris 2006, Christy et al. 2006b).” [33]

July 20, 2006

Testified before the House Committee on Government Reform in a Hearing titled “Climate Change: Understanding the Degree of the Problem.” [34]

April 17, 2006

John Christy and Roy Spencer presented at the George C. Marshall Institute's Washington Roundtable on Science and Public Policy to discuss “Satellite Temperature Data” (PDF). [5]

According to the event moderator William O'Keefe, Spencer and Christy “pioneered the work in satellite measurements of the earth’s temperature.” 

“Someone described Roy and me as “swimming upstream against the climate change debate',” Christy said in his introduction. “I corrected him on the air and said we are not swimming upstream; we are just swimming downstream a lot more slowly than everyone else. I reminded him that those who swim the fastest downstream always end up getting to the money and the media first.”

The presentation was followed with a Q&A session with Spencer and Christy. Christy argues that it would not be possible to measure the benefits of any carbon-dioxide-reducing regulations, as “ the scientific answer is you cannot detect the effect of such a regulation. Except perhaps in economic indicators, where you might see some downturn. But in terms of the climate, we could not detect such an effect.” [5]

“I showed some evidence that humans are causing warming in the surface measurements that we have, but it is not the greenhouse relation,” Christy said. “Are we going to return the Central Valley to a desert? Are we going to tell all the people in Africa they cannot burn wood anymore? Well, we could if we gave them coal-fired electricity, I suppose, which would be better for the environment because their forests are being destroyed. The habitat for the wild animals is going away because these people are chopping down the forests to survive.” [5]

August 12, 2005

According to a New York Times article, John Christy along with fellow skeptic Roy Spencer admitted they made a mistake in their satellite data research that they said demonstrated a cooling in the troposphere (the earth's lowest layer of atmosphere). It turned out that the exact opposite was occurring and the troposphere was getting warmer. [35]

“These papers should lay to rest once and for all the claims by John Christy and other global warming skeptics that a disagreement between tropospheric and surface temperature trends means that there are problems with surface temperature records or with climate models,” said Alan Robock, a meteorologist at Rutgers University. [35]

July 28, 2003

John Christy was a co-author of the Independent Institute report “New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn't Telling Us” that criticized the EPA's 2001 Climate Action Report. [36]

Other authors of the report included S. Fred Singer, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, and Wendy M. Novicoff. The report accused The IPCC's 2001 assessment on climate change of being “misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong.” [36]

December 12, 2003

Spoke at an event hosted by the Cato Institute titled “Global Warming: The State of the Debate.” [37]

According tot he Cato Institute, the event summarizes “what is known about the science and economics surrounding greenhouse gas concentrations and abatement. Moreover, it tackles squarely what is perhaps the most relevant policy issue at the moment—the potential costs and benefits involved in dealing with scientific uncertainty.”



Some sample publications (not a complete list) by John R. Christy below:

  • Christy, J.R. “When was the hottest summer? A state climatologist struggles for an answer.” Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 723-734. 2002.
  • Christy, J.R. and R.W. Spencer. “Correcting temperature data sets.” Science, 310, 972. 2005.
  • Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, K. Redmond and K.P. Gallo. “Methodology and results of calculating Central California surface temperature trends: Evidence of human-induced climate change.” J. Climate, 19, 548-563. 2006.
  • Christy, J.R. and W.B. Norris. “Satellite and VIZ radiosondes intercomparison for diagnosis of non-climatic influences.” J. Atmos. Oc. Tech. 2006
  • Christy, J.R., W.B. Norris, R.W. Spencer and J.J. Hnilo. “Tropospheric temperature change since 1979 from tropical radiosonde and satellite measurements.” J. Geophys. Res.2006.
  • Satellite Temperature Data.” George C. Marshall Institute. Transcript from the Marshall Institute's Washington Roundtable on Science and Public Policy. April 17, 2006.


  1. About John: Education,” University of Alabama in Huntsville. URL

  2. About John,” University of Alabama in Huntsville. URL:

  3. Contact Us,” Earth System Science Center. Archived November 15, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  4. About Us,” The Alabama State Climatologist. Accessed September 15, 2016. URL

  5. John Christy and Roy Spencer. WASHINGTON ROUNDTABLE ON SCIENCE & PUBLIC POLICY: Satellite Temperature Data” (PDF), George C. Marshall Institute, April 17, 2006. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  6. Written Statement of John R. Christy The University of Alabama in Huntsville Subcommittee on Energy and Power Committee on Energy and Commerce 8 March 2011” (PDF), The Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Power, March 8, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  7. Chris Mooney. “So Now They Call in the Scientists? Desmog, March 7, 2011.

  8. Climate Science and EPA's Greenhouse Gas Regulations,” House Energy & Commerce Committee, March 8, 2011. Archived March 16, 2011. URL:

  9. My Nobel moment.” November 1, 2007. The Wall Street Journal. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog. URL

  10. “Testimony of John R. Christy University of Alabama in Huntsville” (PDF), U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology Feb 2, 2016. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  11. John R. Christy. “Alabama climatologist Dr. John Christy questions Pope's take on climate change: guest opinion,” Alabama Local News, June 22, 2015. Archived July 3, 2015. URL

  12. 7 questions with John Christy and Roy Spencer: Climate change skeptics for 25 years,”, April 1, 2015. Archived September 16, 2016. URL

  13. UN Scientists Who Have Turned on UNIPCC Man-Made Climate Fears - A Climate Depot Flashback Report,” Climate Depot, August 21, 2013. URL

  14. Nikki Wentling. “Legislature considering delays in renewable energy standards,” Lawrence Journal World, February 5, 2013. URL

  15. John R. Christy's testimony (PDF) to the Subcommittee Energy and Power on March 8, 2011. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  16. Jon Birger. “What if global-warming fears are overblown? Fortune Magazine, May 14, 2009. Archived September 16, 2016. URL

  17. Written testimony (PDF) of John R. Christy at the House Ways and Means Committee, February 25, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  18. David Perlman. “Earth warming at faster pace, say top science group's leaders / Statement by American Geophysical Union's council warns temperature change is real and human-caused,” SFGate, December 18, 2003. Archived September 16, 2016. URL:

  19. Paul Gatis. “Climate expert John Christy to Congress: 'I would not trust model projections',”, February 3, 2016. Archived September 16, 2016. URL:

  20. Data or Dogma? Promoting Open Inquiry in the Debate over the Magnitude of Human Impact on Earth’s Climateer,” U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation. Archived December 4, 2015. URL

  21. “Testimony of John R. Christy” (PDF), U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, Dec 8 2015. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  22. Dana Nuccitelli. “A revealing interview with top contrarian climate scientists,” The Guardian, April 6, 2015. URL

  23. (Press Release). “Little Evidence Linking Climate Change to Extreme Weather Events,” Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, December 11, 2013. Archived December 30, 2013. URL

  24. Dana Nuccitelli. “Republicans in Congress got the testimony they wanted to keep playing climate Russian roulette,” The Guardian, December 26, 2013. URL

  25. Peter Fimrite. “Study: Sierra snowfall consistent over 130 years,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 15, 2012. URL

  26. James Taylor. “Dear Global Warming Alarmists: We're Still Waiting for Declining Snowfall,” Forbes, February 29, 2012. URL

  27. Mark Robison. “News analysis: Does Sierra snow study buck fears of warming?,” Reno Gazette-Journal, April 7, 2012. Republished by Lake Tahoe News (Original no longer available online). Archived September 15, 2016. URL:

  28. House Ways and Means Committee 25 February 2009 Written Testimony John R. Christy, University of Alabama in Huntsville,” House Ways and Means Committee, February 25, 2009. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  29. Summary of Hearings on Climate Change (12/7/10),” American Geosciences Institute, December 7, 2010. URL

  30. UAH's John Christy's US House Ways & Means Committee testimony… examined,” Citizens' Challenge, January 8, 2011. URL: 

  31. Exposed: The Climate of Fear,”, 2007. Archived video on file at Desmog. URL

  32. The Great Global Warming Swindle Full Movie,” YouTube Video uploaded by user Apollo, April 2, 2014.  Archived video on file at Desmog.

  33. Testimony of John R. Christy, Ph.D. (PDF), House Committee on Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, July 27, 2006. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  34. Summary of Hearings on Climate Change (12-8-06),” American Geosciences Institute, December 8, 2006. URL

  35. Andrew C. Revkin. “Errors Cited in Assessing Climate Data,” The New York Times, August 12, 2005. URL

  36. S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, Wendy M. Novicoff. “New Perspectives on Climate Change: What the EPA Isn't Telling Us,” (PDF), The Independent Institute, July 2003. Archived .pdf on file at Desmog.

  37. Global Warming: The State of the Debate,” Cato Institute. Archived June 15, 2006. URL:

  38. John Christy,” The Heartland Institute. Archived September 15, 2016. URL:

  39. Dr. John R. Christy,” Competitive Enterprise Institute. Archived September 16, 2016. URL:

  40. Nation’s Leading Global Warming Experts Unveil New Findings on Climate Change” (Press Release), The Independent Institute, July 28, 2003. URL

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