Walter Cunningham

(Ronnie) Walter Cunningham


  • Doctorate (Incomplete), Physics, Institute of Geophysics And Planetary Sciences.
  • M.S., Institute of Geophysics And Planetary Sciences (1961).
  • B.S., Physics, University of California at Los Angeles. (1960).

Source: [1]


Ronnie Walter Cunningham (Walt Cunningham) is a retired American astronaut and a pilot of the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. He was NASA's third civilian astronaut.

Cunningham has also been a fighter pilot, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and author of The All-American Boys.

He worked for the RAND Corporation prior to joining NASA and he has also served as the director of a number of public and private companies. He is a frequent speaker and lecturer in the U.S.  [2]

According to his professional profile, Cunningham has had chief executive and senior operating positions in venture capital, real estate, offshore pipeline and consulting engineering industries.

Stance on Climate Change

“After years of looking, I have not found one piece of empirical evidence that man-made CO2 has a significant impact on global climate.” [3]

Key Quotes

“In the 1980s a small group of individuals became concerned about the Earth's temperature and what it might do in the future. I hesitate to call them scientists because they have abandoned their scientific principals by which their guess about temperature increases and the cause could achieve scientific acceptance or rejection.” [18]

NASA’s Aqua satellite is showing that water vapor, the dominant greenhouse gas, works to offset the effect of carbon dioxide (CO2). This information, contrary to the assumption used in all the warming models, is ignored by global warming alarmists.

“… For nearly a decade now, there has been no global warming. Even though atmospheric CO2 has continued to accumulate—up about 4 percent in the last 10 years—the global mean temperature has remained flat. That should raise obvious questions about CO2 being the cause of climate change.

“… The reality is that atmospheric CO2 has a minimal impact on greenhouse gases and world temperature. Water vapor is responsible for 95 percent of the greenhouse effect. CO2 contributes just 3.6 percent, with human activity responsible for only 3.2 percent of that. That is why some studies claim CO2 levels are largely irrelevant to global warming.” [4]

“… global warming alarmists invariably try to make their case by resorting to rhetoric, dogma, opinion, and emotion. The closest thing to scientific data in their articles is the occasional chart claiming a poorly understood correlation between atmospheric CO2 and the Earth's temperature.” [5]

“I'm here to encourage everyone to look at the data themselves, not just buy what they’re told. I find that my standards for science are more important to me than anything else, and I hate to see them being depreciated by the alarmists’ claims today. Politics and the media and what have you have allowed us now to be facing one of the biggest scientific hoaxes in history. That’s what's being pushed on us.” [14]

 “But, when it comes to global warming, the public- at-large really doesn’t know whom to believe anymore. And NASA has contributed to that confusion.” [15]

Key Deeds

December 7, 2015

Walter Cunningham 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. [31] 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: [31]

June 11-12, 2015

Walter Cunningham was a speaker on Panel 13: “The Right Climate Stuff,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Tom Wysmuller and Hal Doiron. [29]

View Walter Cunningham’s Panel 13 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [30]

May 12, 2015

Walter Cunningham 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.” [20]

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' comes from Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance, who coordinated An Open Letter to Pope Francis on Climate Change.” [21] 

February, 2015

Walter Cunningham attended a meeting of the Senate Space, Science and Competitiveness subcommittee, chaired by republican Senator Ted Cruz, as reported in a Scientific American article titled “The Shifting Politics of NASA's Astronaut Program.” 

In Cunningham's written testimony (PDF), he suggests that “NASA should be more on their science obligations and avoid any associated political issues,” specifically that “humans are the cause of global warming.” Cunningham said that “The space agency compromises its scientific credibility by participating in the politics surrounding one of the great scientific hoaxes in history.” [24]. [25]

July 7 - 9, 2014

Walter Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [19]

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

December, 2014

Walter Cunningham participated in a press conference put on by The Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) at the same time as international talks in Lima, Peru (DeSmogBlog reported on the event here).[26]
In addition to Walter Cunningham, CFACT's communications director Marc Morano and Executive Director Craig Rucker spoke at the event. 
“The climate on our planet has been changing for billions of years. And life on our planet has evolved by adapting to those changes. Today, global warming alarmists want us to believe that climate change is a threat to our civilization when it really is a program for governmental control of our energy consumption and our standard of living. One of the greatest scientific hoaxes in history,” Cunningham said in his speech. [27]

October, 2014

Walter Cunningham gave a speech at a CFACT Collegians event at the University of Minnesota, and was interviewed by the ABC Affiliate KSTP. The story was re-posted at Somewhat Reasonable, the Heartland Institute's blog. Cunningham had this to say:

“I'm here to encourage everyone to look at the data themselves, not just buy what they’re told. I find that my standards for science are more important to me than anything else, and I hate to see them being depreciated by the alarmists’ claims today. Politics and the media and what have you have allowed us now to be facing one of the biggest scientific hoaxes in history. That’s what’s being pushed on us.” [22]

Here is the KSTP video story:

August 6, 2013

In an interview with Larry Bell in a Forbes article titled “A Conversation With Apollo Astronaut Walter Cunningham About A Vital Need To Restore Climate Science Integrity,” Walter Cunningham takes the opportunity to explain why he “is an outspoken critic of pseudo-scientific climate alarmist claims.” 

According to Larry Bell, “when it comes to global warming, the public- at-large really doesn’t know whom to believe anymore. And NASA has contributed to that confusion.” He says that NASA should be “emphasizing to the media that human- caused global warming is a hypothesis, not a scientific fact.”[23]

March, 2013

Walter Cunningham is part of a group that calls themselves “The Right Climate Stuff” (TRCS). 
On March 15, 2013,  Cunningham, alongside Thomas Wysmuller, Harold Doiron, and Heartland President Joseph Bast spoke at a panel discussion where they explain “why they are urging government agencies to cease their ‘unbridled advocacy’ of Anthropogenic Global Warming & Return Integrity to the Scientific Method.” [28]
In January 2013, TRCS issued this summary of its findings as follows (according to a press release issued by The Heartland Institute):
  1. The science that predicts the extent of anthropogenic global warming is not settled science.
  2. There is no convincing physical evidence of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.
  3. Computer models need to be validated before being used in critical decision-making.
  4. Because there is no immediate threat of global warming requiring swift corrective action, we have time to study global climate changes and improve our prediction accuracy.
  5. The U.S. government is over-reacting to concerns about anthropogenic global warming.
  6. A wider range of solution options should be studied for global warming or cooling threats from any credible cause.

July 10, 2012

Walter Cunningham authored an article in Space News titled “Winning the War with Global Warming Alarmists” where he lists a number of “tactics” that he suggests climate change skeptics adopt, “especially when dealing with the media.” According to Cunningham, “At this stage in the war on human-caused global warming, the battle for public perception may be more critical than the scientific fight, and this battle should not be beneath the dignity of climate science realists.” 
He also criticizes NASA's stance on global warming, suggesting that “Claims by NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are inconsistent with hundreds of thousands of years of empirical data.” [13]
May 21 - 23, 2012

Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7). [6]

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland's ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations.

March 28, 2012

Cunningham was one of 49 former NASA scientists to sign an open letter to NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) to cease their “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change.” [10]

“We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated,” the letter stated.

SkepticalScience published a critique on the claims made in the letter. Their critique was republished in The Guardian. [11], [12]

May 16 - 18, 2010

Cunningham was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's 2010 International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC4). [7]

February, 2010

The Heartland Institute published an article by Cunningham titled “Global Warming Fact Versus Faith: One Astronaut's Views” (PDF).

In his article, Cunningham argues that climate change skeptics “hold the high ground scientifically” over those who accept man-made climate change. He frames the debate as being similar to “the battle over evolution versus creationism” where “facts are pitted against faith and science against religion.”

In Cunningham's view, those who accept man-made climate change “Faith” while skeptics are on the side of “Science.” As evidence for this view, he cites a (since debunked) U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report that “identifies 700 prominent scientists who have publicly repudiated the alarmist position on global warming.” [8]

He additionally cites the Oregon Petition (which was also debunked) as proving that there is “convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” [5]





  1. Professional Profile: Walter Cunningham,” Accessed May, 2012.

  2. NASA Biography,” Accessed May, 2012.

  3. Walter Cunningham. “Climate change alarmists ignore scientific methods,” Houston Chronicle, August 15, 2010. Retrieved from

  4. Walter Cunningham. “In Science, Ignorance is not Bliss,” Retrieved May 3, 2012.

  5. Walter Cunningham. “Global Warming: Facts versus Faith” (PDF), The Heartland Institute, 2010. Retrieved from, May, 2012.

  6. Former NASA Scientists, Astronauts to Attend Heartland Institute Climate Conference, May 21 - 23 in Chicago,” (Press Release), PRWeb, April 19, 2012. Archived May 3, 2012, with WebCite.

  7. Speakers,” 2010 International Conference on Climate Change, January 16, 2010. Archived January 24, 2010.

  8. Inhofe's 400 Global Warming Deniers Debunked,” The Daily Green, January 11, 2008.

  9. Walter Cunningham,” Tech Central Station. Archived February 10, 2005.

  10. Gus Lubin. “49 Former NASA Scientists Send A Letter Disputing Climate Change,” Business Insider, April 11, 2012. Archived May 3, 2012.

  11. NASA Climate 'Skeptics' Respond with Science! Just Kidding,” SkepticalScience, April 12, 2012.

  12. Attacks on climate science by former NASA staff shouldn't be taken seriously,” The Guardian, April 12, 2012.

  13. Walter Cunningham. “Winning the War with Global Warming Alarmists,” Space News, July 10, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  14. Walter Cunningham,” Wikipedia.

  15. Walter Cunningham,” SourceWatch.

  16. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Walter Cunningham.

  17. Walter Cunningham's personal website.

  18. Climate Denial Group CFACT Congratulates Australia During Warsaw Talks,” DeSmogBlog, November 19, 2013.

  19. Return of Climate Denial-a-Palooza: Heartland Institute Hitches Anti-Science Wagon to Vegas FreedomFest,” DeSmogBlog, July 7, 2014. Archived July 14, 2014.

  20. 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

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

  22. Jim Lakely. “Apollo VII Astronaut Walter Cunningham: Examine the Climate Data For Yourself,” Somewhat Reasonable (Heartland Institute blog). November 3, 2014.

  23. Larry Bell. “A Conversation With Apollo Astronaut Walter Cunningham About A Vital Need To Restore Climate Science Integrity,” Forbes. August 6, 2013. 

  24. U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commerce Space Competitiveness” (PDF). Testimony of Walter Cunningham, Feb 24, 2015. Retrieved from U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation website. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog. 

  25. Lee Billings. “The Shifting Politics of NASA's Astronaut Program,” Scientific American (Blog). February 27, 2015.

  26. Graham Readfearn. “Climax Denied As Climate Denial Group Hits Repeat At UN Climate Talks in Lima,” DeSmogBlog. December 23, 2014.

  27. CFACT: Fact Checking, Climate Science and Policy,” UNFCCC Webcast - Lima. December 11, 2014.

  28. Jim Lakely. “Apollo 7 Astronaut Walter Cunningham to Headline 'Right Climate Stuff' Event at CPAC 2013,” The Heartland Institute, March 8, 2013.

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

  30. Panel 13: The Right Climate Stuff with Walter Cunningham, Tom Wysmuller, and Hal Doiron,” Heartland Institute, June 12, 2015. Archived July 15, 2015.

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