Roy Spencer

Roy W. Spencer


  • Ph.D., Meteorology, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1981). [1]


Roy W. Spencer is a research scientist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville.  He operates his own blog on global warming in which he describes himself as a “climatologist, author, [and] former NASA scientist.” 

Spencer believes that “the extra carbon dioxide we pump into the atmosphere is not enough to cause the observed warming in the last 100 years.” 

Stance on Climate Change

“There's probably a natural reason for global warming … We will look back on it as a gigantic false alarm … The Earth isn't that sensitive to how much CO2 we put into the atmosphere. I think we need to consider the possibility that more carbon dioxide is better than less.” [2]

Key Quotes

“All scientists should be skeptics. The reason why is that, even with the best of scientific measurements, we can come up with all kinds of explanations of what those measurements mean in terms of cause and effect, and yet most of those explanations are wrong. It's really easy to be wrong in science … it's really hard to be right.” [25]

“We see something change in our climate and we blame ourselves … I don't think we understand what happens. We can watch it happen on the (climate) models, we know it happens, but we don't know for sure how it happens.” [3]

“Politicians and some of the scientists like to say that there's a consensus now on global warming or the science has been settled, but you have to ask them, what is there a consensus on? Because it really makes a difference. What are you talking about? The only consensus I`m aware of is that it's warmed in the last century. They completely ignore the fact that there's this thing called the Oregon petition that was signed by 19,000 professionals and scientists who don't agree with the idea that we are causing climate change.” [4]

“Twice I have testified in congress that unbiased funding on the subject of the causes of warming would be much closer to a reality if 50% of that money was devoted to finding natural reasons for climate change.” [5]

“We have no idea what's natural and what's man made. […] There is no fingerprint of human-caused warming.” [32]

Key Deeds

June 13, 2016

Roy Spencer was among individuals listed as creditors in Peabody Energy's 2016 bankruptcy filings, reports the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD/PRWatch). [36]

While the available bankruptcy documents do not list the scale or dates of funding, they outline Peabody Energy's financial ties to a large network of groups promoting climate change denial. [37]

Other individuals appearing in the documents include climate deniers Willie SoonRichard Lindzen, and Richard Berman. The long list of organizations also includes groups such as Americans for ProsperityAmerican Legislative Exchange CouncilCFACTInstitute for Energy ResearchState Policy Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and dozens more. [38]

The Guardian also analysed and reported on the Peabody bankruptcy findings: [39]

These groups collectively are the heart and soul of climate denial,” said Kert Davies, founder of the Climate Investigation Center, who has spent 20 years tracking funding for climate denial. “It’s the broadest list I have seen of one company funding so many nodes in the denial machine.”

The company’s filings reveal funding for a range of organisations which have fought Barack Obama’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and denied the very existence of climate change. […]

Among Peabody’s beneficiaries, the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change has insisted – wrongly – that carbon emissions are not a threat but “the elixir of life” while the American Legislative Exchange Council is trying to overturn Environmental Protection Agency rules cutting emissions from power plants. Meanwhile, Americans for Prosperity campaigns against carbon pricing. The Oklahoma chapter was on the list. […]

The breadth of the groups with financial ties to Peabody is extraordinary. Thinktanks, litigation groups, climate scientists, political organisations, dozens of organisations blocking action on climate all receiving funding from the coal industry,” said Nick Surgey, director of research for the Center for Media and Democracy.

We expected to see some denial money, but it looks like Peabody is the treasury for a very substantial part of the climate denial movement.”

Notable organizations also listed as creditors in the bankruptcy documents include:

June 10, 2016

Roy Spencer was a signatory to a Cornwall Alliance open letter written by Calvin Beisner and addressed to U.S. attorneys general about climate change. [41]

The letter responds to recent investigations by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and members of Attorneys General United for Clean Power into what ExxonMobil knew about climate change and when, started by a coalition of attorneys general in the US. [42], [43] 

Calvin Beisner writes that the attorneys generals' actions are “a dead giveaway that you’re ignorant about climate science and related climate and energy policy.”  [41]

“[U]nlike in the case of tobacco’s health risks, there are innumerable and enormous holes in the case (not for human contribution to global warming but) for manmade global warming dangerous enough to justify spending trillions of dollars reinventing the world’s energy system to mitigate it, particularly when competing use of those trillions might bring far greater benefit,” Beisner addresses the attorneys general. And you, intelligent and learned all, are ignorant of those enormous holes.”  [41]

The Cornwall Alliance lists the following signatories to its open letter: [41]

April, 2016

Roy Spencer was one of several witnesses sponsored by Peabody Energy, fighting a legal case on Minnesota's Social Cost of Carbon (SCC). Peabody Energy's list of skeptical scientists included the following: [44]

DeSmog reviewed the case findings, and reported how the arguments presented by Peabody were rejected by the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Some of Peabody's central “scientific” arguments, as commented on by The ALJ in findings documents, were as follows: [45]

p.18 “Peabody asserted that significant climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, it is not due to anthropogenic causes. Furthermore, Peabody insisted that any current warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial. Based on its position on climate change, Peabody maintained that the externality value of CO2 would most accurately be set at or below zero.…”

p.31 “The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody Energy has failed to demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that climate change is not occurring or, to the extent climate change is occurring, the warming and increased CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere are beneficial.” 

The Judge ruled unambiguously against Peabody, as reported Bloomberg BNA. [46] The Guardian also suggested a number of reasons that Peabody Energy lost the case, including Richard Lindzen's own admission that the case hinged on ignoring the IPCC expert consensus, and instead listening to contrarian science: [47]

“All of this [opposition] testimony is flawed to the extent it simply relies on … predictions by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change […] today the best evidence indicates that … a much lower climate sensitivity value of 1°C or 1.5°C is correct […]”

“Peabody’s scientists made errors that were easy to identify and point out to the Judge. Furthermore, the Judge was smart, quickly able to see through nonsense non-science,” The Guardian reports. “For those of you that read the report, you’ll notice that the Peabody side made claims about the natural variability of Earth’s climate, about Earth temperature changes, and about extreme weather events.” [48]

Some notable judicial conclusions were as follows, reports The Guardian[48]

“22. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that an equilibrium climate sensitivity of 1 or 1.5°C is correct.”

“23. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that the climate sensitivity is reasonably considered to be in the 2-4.5°C range.”

“47. The Administrative Law Judge concludes that Peabody failed to demonstrate that the relied upon process is neither peer-reviewed nor transparent.”

December 13, 2015

Writing as a guest blogger on Watts Up With That, CFACT's executive director Craig Rucker denounced the latest UN climate change agreement: [40]

“This agreement will not meaningfully alter the temperature of the Earth, even under the U.N.’s own computer models.

“The bad news is that it plants the seeds of a new UN climate regime that left unchecked will swell into a bureaucratic behemoth.”

December 8, 2015

Roy Spencer wrote an article titled “Whose Supported Policies Kill More People: ISIS…or Greenpeace?” comparing Greenpeace to terrorists. [34]

“Since poverty is the leading cause of premature death in the world, and fossil fuels have enabled the world to prosper and live longer, more comfortable lives, being against fossil fuels is, in my opinion, either misguided or evil,” Spencer writes. [34]

Spencer's article responds to a Greenpeace EnergyDesk investigation (“Academics-for-hire”), published the same day, which had revealed a number of academics were willing to take funds from oil companies in order to publish articles promoting the benefits of carbon dioxide.

The Greenpeace investigation found that Spencer had accepted $4,000 by Peabody Energy to testify at a Minnesota state hearing on the impacts of carbon dioxide. [35]

Spencer provided the following statement in his own article: [34]

“Over the years, I’ve charged to give talks out-of-state, taking vacation time away from my research day job (which is 100% federal and state funded) to avoid any charges of “double-dipping”. A few of those talks have been for fossil fuel-related organizations, a few have been for environmental organizations, but most have not.
“My affiliations with the Marshall Institute and Cornwall Alliance have been on a volunteer basis. I’ve also been paid a modest amount to write a couple of reports over the years, as well as to help in a recent legal case. The total compensation I’ve received is very small compared to my day job, and it’s even very small compared to the ad revenue I receive from our little weather website,
“Many years ago I was paid to write articles for a website called, which turned out to be fossil-fuel funded. I didn’t know that at the time, but I don’t think it would have mattered. After all, like most of us in the modern world, I’ve given far more money to fossil fuel interests than I’ve ever received from them. 
“I’m still waiting for that Big Check from Big Oil. After all, I’ve been carrying their water for years. In my case, my support of fossil fuels (and the prosperity and longevity they have enabled humanity to achieve) goes back decades. It’s a no-brainer. If there is another energy technology as cheap and reliable and large-scale, I’m all for it.”

December 7, 2015

Roy Spencer appears as a “Key Scientist” in Marc Morano’s documentary film, Climate Hustle, which debuted on December 7, 2015, in Paris, France during the COP21 United Nations summit on climate change. [33] The film chiefly showcases Morano's personality, a range of discredited scientists, and no new factual information about climate change.

Other notable “Key Scientists” featured in Climate Hustle include: [33]

June 11-12, 2015

Roy Spencer was a speaker on Panel 2: “Climate Science and Accurate Data,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Anthony Watts and J. Scott Armstrong. [29]

View Roy Spencer’s Panel 2 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [30]

Confronted by a Greenpeace activist Connor Gibson on camera, Dr. Spencer was filmed repeating several disinformation myths. Spencer denied that the global average temperature record has a documented warming trend over the last century, and then denied that humans have caused the warming trend he refused to acknowledge. 

June 1, 2015

Roy Spencer testified on behalf of coal giant Peabody Energy about the social cost of carbon in front of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, along with Roger Bezdek

Spencer argued that government-run climate change models are inaccurately “biased high” and should therefore not be used to determine the social cost of carbon. 

“My testimony will address the validity of climate model projections of global and regional temperatures used in the determination of the social cost of carbon (SCC). Three independent classes of temperature observations show that the climate models used by governments for policy guidance have warmed 2 to 3 times faster than the real climate system over the last 35 to 55 years, which is the period of greatest greenhouse gas emissions and atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. Recent research suggests that the climate models are too sensitive to these emissions, and that increasing greenhouse gases do not cause as much warming and associated climate change as is commonly believed [emphasis added]. These results suggest that any SCC estimates based upon such models will be biased high.”

Spencer went on to testify that he ascribes to the heavily debunked “no global warming in 18 years” hiatus theory, which he believes is due to “some combination of low climate sensitivity and a natural cooling effect, such as stronger La Nina event in recent years.”

Spencer's testimony on behalf of Peabody Energy can be read here: Direct Testimony and Exhibits of Professor Roy Spencer June 1, 2015 [PDF].

March, 2015

Roy Spencer is one of several climate change skeptics cc'd on an email from S. Fred Singer in hopes of countering the documentary film “Merchants of Doubt,” which exposes the network of climate change skeptics and deniers trying to delay legislative action on climate change.  

The October, 2014 email was leaked to journalists before the documentary was released. “Can I sue for damages?” Singer asked in the email. “Can we get an injunction against the documentary?”

InsideClimate News reports in their article “Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists,” how “Many of those copied on the email thread, such as Singer and communications specialist Steven Milloy, have financial ties to the tobacco, chemical, and oil and gas industries and have worked to defend them since the 1990s.” [28]

InsideClimate News also documented all those who were cc'd on the email, including the following skeptics and groups:

DeSmogBlog covered the emails here: “Merchants of Doubt Film Debuts, Textbook Denial Attack Campaign Led By Fred Singer Ensues” and DeSmogBlog also archived a full copy of the Singer email thread (PDF)

September 25, 2014

Roy Spencer attends the “At the Crossroads; Energy & Climate Policy Summit” in Houston, Texas, hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and The Heritage Foundation. Spencer presents in “Panel I: The State of the Science,” with Judith Curry and Harold Doiron. [27]

July 7 - 9, 2014

Roy Spencer was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [26]

DeSmogBlog has done in-depth research on the other speakers and sponsors from Heartland's ICCC9, which can be found here.

May 26, 2014

Roy Spencer co-wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal with Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast entitled, “The Myth of the Climate Change '97%'.” In the commentary attacking the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate science, Spencer and Bast argued that, “There is no basis for the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man-made climate change is a dangerous problem.”

February, 2014

In a February 20, 2014 blog post titled, “Time to push back against the global warming Nazis,” Spencer wrote: 

When politicians and scientists started calling people like me “deniers”, they crossed the line. They are still doing it.

They indirectly equate (1) the skeptics’ view that global warming is not necessarily all manmade nor a serious problem, with (2) the denial that the Nazi’s extermination of millions of Jews ever happened.

Too many of us for too long have ignored the repulsive, extremist nature of the comparison. It’s time to push back.

I’m now going to start calling these people “global warming Nazis”.

July 2013

Dr Spencer gave evidence to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works session on climate change. During the hearing (at 3hr 20s), Dr Spencer was asked by Democrat committee member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse: “Do you believe that the theory of creation actually has a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution”.

The question was apparently in reference to an article which Spencer had written several years earlier in which he stated the “theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution”.

Spencer answered that he believed that “evolutionary theory is mostly religion” and that the DNA molecule could not have happened “by chance”. He also claimed that if he was placed in a debate, he would be able to offer more scientific evidence “supporting that life was created” than an opponent could offer that life had evolved. 

July, 2011

In July 2011, a paper co-authored by Spencer was published in the journal Remote Sensing, “[which is] a fine [peer-reviewed] journal for geographers, but it does not deal with atmospheric and climate science,” RealClimate found. [6]

His paper looked at a potential connection between clouds and global warming. The paper received significant media attention, and climate change skeptics claimed that it “blow[s] a gaping hole in global warming alarmism.” [7]

Within three days of the publication of Spencer & Braswell's paper, two climate scientists (Kevin Trenberth & John Fasullo) repeated the analysis and showed that the IPCC models are in agreement with the observations, so refuting Spencer's claims.

In Andrew Dessler's view, “[This] paper is not really intended for other scientists, since they do not take Roy Spencer seriously anymore (he’s been wrong too many times). Rather, he’s writing his papers for Fox News, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, Congressional staffers, and the blogs. These are his audience and the people for whom this research is actually useful — in stopping policies to reduce GHG emissions — which is what Roy wants.” [8]

In response to the flawed peer review that allowed the publication of the paper, the Editor-in-Chief of Remote Sensing stepped down. He had this to say: (PDF)

“After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

With this step I would also like to personally protest against how the authors and like-minded climate sceptics have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions in public statements…” [9]

April, 2010

Spencer published The Great Global Warming Blunder: How Mother Nature Fooled the World's Top Climatologists which is prominently advertised on his blog. 

Apart from concluding that global warming is likely caused by a natural cycle, Blunder poses the question, that “maybe putting more CO2 in the atmosphere is a good thing.”


Spencer published Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians, and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor in 2008.

Confusion is described as “forsaking blindingly technical statistics” about global warming to describe the issue in “simple terms.” [10]

March 8, 2007

Roy Spencer appeared on the The Great Global Warming Swindle to talk about the “Great Science Funding Conspiracy.” Spencer claims that “climate scientists need there to be a problem in order to get funding.” 

Swindle received critical response from the scientific community, including a letter addressed to ABC signed by thirty-seven British Scientists that claimed “the misrepresentations of facts and views, both of which occur in your programme, are so serious that repeat broadcasts of the programme, without amendment, are not in the public interest. In view of the seriousness of climate change as an issue, it is crucial that public debate about it is balanced and well-informed.”

ABC Australia’s Tony Jones also brings the film's scientific accuracy into question in an interview with the film’s director, Martin Durkin.

February 28, 2007

Roy Spencer was interviewed on Rush Limbaugh's Show. See an excerpt below: [11]

RUSH: You called yesterday and you wanted to say that my instincts on this global warming as you've heard me discuss them, are accurate. You started a discussion of the calculations here, these climate models, saying that they do not factor – because it's not easy to do or maybe it's not even possible to factor – in the role of precipitation and clouds. Could you start there, and basically whatever you were going to say yesterday, go ahead and launch.

DR. SPENCER: Well, I feel like – and there are a few of us that are like this – that the Earth has a natural air-conditioning process which occurs that is mainly through precipitation systems. Now, people will think, “Oh, well, you mean when they come by they cool off the air,” and that's not what I'm talking about. It's about the Earth's natural greenhouse effect which is mostly water vapor and clouds. The Earth has a natural greenhouse effect that keeps the surface of the Earth warm.

RUSH: Isn't it true that the majority of greenhouse gases do come from the sources you just mentioned, not manmade sources?

DR. SPENCER: Well, yeah, that's true. Carbon dioxide is a relatively small part of the Earth's natural greenhouse effect… .

There's a big problem with [the accepted explanation for the greenhouse effect], though. It makes it sound like the greenhouse effect is what determines the temperature of the Earth, and actually the truth is it's more the other way around. Given a certain amount of sunlight coming in, that is mostly absorbed at the surface of the Earth, weather processes happen which create the greenhouse effect because most of the greenhouse effect is from evaporated water which then turns into clouds, and of course water vapor is a strong greenhouse gas.

RUSH: I dare say I have to interrupt you at this point because most people who only pay attention to the crisis mongers, believe that there is no greenhouse effect other than that created by man. The whole notion of the greenhouse effect has led people to believe that man has totally manufactured this and that it's totally harmful. What you're saying is it's a natural thing that helps keep the Earth's temperatures moderate?

DR. SPENCER: Yeah, that's right. That's right. All the scientists agree with that. What you're talking about is the fact that the media distorts things so much that people don't get the right information. If you're using the media to rely on to get the science about this issue, you won't.

December 13, 2007

Spencer is listed as a signatory to a 2007 open letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that denied man-made climate change. [12]

The letter states that “it is not possible to stop climate change, a natural phenomenon that has affected humanity throughout the ages.”

July, 2006

Spencer is listed as a “scientific advisor” for an organization called the “Interfaith Stewardship Alliance” (ISA). 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.”

In July 2006, Spencer co-authored an ISA report refuting the work of another religious organization called the Evangelical Climate Initiative. The ISA report was titled A Call to Truth, Prudence and Protection of the Poor: an Evangelical Response to Global Warming. Along with the report was a letter of endorsement signed by numerous representatives of various organizations, including six that have received a total of $2.32 million in donations from ExxonMobil over the last three years. [13]

The other authors of the ISA's report were Calvin Beisner, Paul Driessen, and Ross McKitrick.

April, 2006

Roy Spencer was one of the 60 “accredited experts” to sign a 2006 open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper denying man-made climate change while urging the government avoid implementing climate policy. 

The letter states that “climate changes all the time due to natural causes and the human impact still remains impossible to distinguish from this natural 'noise.'”

August, 2005

According to an August 12, 2005 New York Times article, Spencer, along with another well-known “skeptic,” John Christy, 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. [14]

“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.

November 16, 2004

Spencer signed a 2004 open letter to John McCain refuting the findings by the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA). [15]

The letter concludes that any past warming that occurred in the arctic cannot be attributed to greenhouse gas concentrations.  It was signed by prominent climate change skeptics including Richard Lindzen, Tim Ball, David Legates, Pat Michaels, Gary D. Sharp, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas.


Spencer appeared as a “Featured Expert” in a video by the Greening Earth Society (a project of the Western Fuels Association) called The Greening of Planet Earth Continues. In the video, “expert scientists assert that CO2 is not a pollutant, but a nutrient to life on earth.” [16]



Spencer has published research articles in peer-reviewed journals on the subject of satellite climate measurements.


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  3. Wendy Reeves. “Scientist: Warming not caused by humans,” The Huntsville Times, April 19, 2007. Archived April 22, 2007.

  4. Exposed: The Climate of Fear,” CNN, Glenn Beck special, May 2, 2007.

  5. Roy W. Spencer. “Why Most Published Research Findings are False,”, January 3, 2011.

  6. Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedback,” RealClimate, July 29, 2011.

  7. Scott Mandia. “Spencer & Braswell 2011: Proof that global warming is exaggerated? Or just bad science?”, Global Warming: Man or Myth?, August 3, 2011.

  8. Joe Romm. “Climate Scientists Debunk Latest Bunk by Denier Roy Spencer,” ThinkProgress, July 29, 2011.

  9. Wolfgang Wagner. “Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper 'On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell, Remote Sens. 2011, 3(8), 1603-1613” (PDF), Remote Sensing (Editorial), September 2, 2011.

  10. Watch Out For Global Warming Muths!”, Irregular Times, February 20, 2009.

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  12. Open Letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations,” December 13, 2007. Reprinted by the Science & Public Policy Institute.

  13. Brian Kaylor. “Signers of Environmental Statement Funded by ExxonMobil,”, October 8, 2006. Archived May 6, 2008.

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  31. About,” Co2Coalition. Archived September 4, 2015.

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  33. Background on Key Scientists Appearing in Climate Hustle,” Climate Hustle. Archived January 11, 2016.

  34. Roy W. Spencer. “Whose Supported Policies Kill More People: ISIS…or Greenpeace?”, December 8, 2015. Archived January 25, 2015. WebCite URL

  35. Lawrence Carter and Maeve McLenaghan. “Exposed: Academics-for-hire agree not to disclose fossil fuel funding,” EnergyDesk, December 8, 2015. Archived January 25, 2015. WebCite URL 

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  38. Farron Cousins. “Court Documents Show Coal Giant Peabody Energy Funded Dozens Of Climate Denial Groups,” DeSmogBlog, June 13, 2016. 

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  44. John Mashey. “Peabody's Outlier Gang Couldn't Shoot Straight In Minnesota Carbon Case, Judge Rebuffs Happer, Lindzen, Spencer, Mendelsohn, Bezdek,” Desmog, June 7, 2016.

  45. “Re: In the Matter of the Further Investigation into Environmental and Socioeconomic Costs Under Minn. Stat. § 216B.2422, Subd. 3” (PDF), April 12, 2016. PDF archived at DeSmog.

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