Most speakers at the 6th International Conference on Climate Change misidentified as scientists

Posted on June 29, 2011


The sixth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC), a large gathering of human-caused climate disruption deniers that is sponsored by the Heartland Institute, opens tomorrow morning. The frontpage for the conference website makes a number of misleading or false statements, but one phrase that caught my eye was “The scientists speaking at this conference…” This list of speakers contains so few actual scientists (and even fewer climate scientists) that labeling the speakers as “scientists” is misleading.

Let’s take a quick look at the speakers:

  • Tim Ball: Ball has a PhD, but in geography, not climatology, and so calling him a “scientist” may or may not be accurate. Regardless, Ball has a history of padding his resume and filing lawsuits against people who point out that he’s padded his resume. For a long list of Ball’s ethical challenges, please visit DeSmogBlog’s profile.
  • Joseph L. Bast: Bast is the president and CEO of the Heartland Institute. He is not a scientist, but he does have a history of making misleading and false statements on climate science and about climate scientists.
  • Larry Bell: Bell is a professor of space architecture and a former urban planner. He is not a scientist.
  • Barry Brill: Brill is a barrister and solicitor (lawyer) in New Zealand. He is not a scientist.
  • Alan Carlin: Carlin is a former EPA economist. He is trumpeted as a “whistleblower” on the EPA but internal EPA documents show that his views were considered and that he was not “muzzled” by the EPA as some climate disruption deniers have accused. He is not a scientist.
  • Robert “Bob” Carter: Carter is a marine biologist geologist who has made a number of climate-related claims that have been shown false. He is a scientist.
  • Paul Chesser: Chesser runs the right-wing American Tradition Institute. He is not a scientist.
  • Scott Denning: Denning is an atmospheric scientist at the Colorado State Univerisity. He is a scientist.
  • Steve Goreham: Goreham is an electrical engineer and author who runs a climate think-tank. He is not a scientist.
  • Ken Haapala: Haapala is an economist who is executive vice-president of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a science-denial advocacy organization founded by S. Fred Singer. Haapala is not a scientist.
  • Tom Harris: Harris is the executive director of climate disruption denial think-tank International Climate Science Coalition and a former advertising executive for APCO. He has degrees in mechanical engineering. He is not a scientist.
  • Christopher Horner: Horner is a lawyer working with the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute. He is not a scientist.
  • Craig Idso: Idso has degrees in geography and agronomy and runs a denial website. He is a scientist.
  • James Inhofe: Inhofe is a U.S. Senator from the state of Oklahoma. He has made innumerable erroneous statements on climate during his term in the Senate and has published lists of scientists who supposedly reject the scientific basis for human-caused climate disruption. When checked, these lists are found to be filled with scientists whose papers have been misinterpreted and who actually do accept the science. Inhofe is not a scientist.
  • Robert O. Mendelsohn: Mendelsohn is an economist, not a scientist.
  • Patrick J. Michaels: Michaels has a degree in climatology and so he is a scientist. However, his scientific papers have been found to be largely incorrect (confusing degrees for radians in one paper with Ross McKitrick) and his statements largely not supported by climate data. See Michaels’ SourceWatch entry for more information.
  • Marc Morano: Morano is a former reporter, former aide to Sen. Inhofe, and current editor the Climate Depot website. He was one of the sources of the smear campaign “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” against Sen. John Kerry and is the person who collected Inhofe’s error-filled lists of scientists. He is not a scientist.
  • John Nothdurft: Nothdurft is a “legislative specialist” for the Heartland Institute. He is not a scientist.
  • Nicola Scafetta: Scafetta is a physicist who believes that the cause of climate disruption is not human activity but rather solar variation. He is a scientist.
  • Harrison Schmitt: Schmitt is a former astronaut, retired geologist, and former New Mexico politician who has recently made erroneous statements about Arctic ice and failed to retract the statements when they were shown to be in error. Schmitt used to be a scientist but whether or not his lack of ongoing scientific work should disqualify him from claiming to be a “scientist” is open to debate. For the purposes of this analysis, however, we’ll consider him a scientist.
  • David Schnare: Schnare is a lawyer who also has advanced science degrees. He therefore qualifies as a scientist for the purposes of this analysis.
  • S. Fred Singer: Singer is a physicist with a long record of denying scientific data (secondhand smoke, climate disruption, acid rain, etc.) in service of an anti-communist, libertarian/objectivist ideology as extensively documented in the legacy tobacco documents and in the book “Merchants of Doubt” by Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway. While he is a scientist, his long history of lying should cast a pall over his scientific accomplishments.
  • Willie Soon: Soon has degrees in engineering but works presently as an astrophysicist for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He has published a number of seriously flawed papers on the source of climate disruption, including one that was so bad that four editors of the publishing journal resigned in protest. These resignations were one of the subjects of the CRU emails and the multiple reviews that exonerated the scientists of wrongdoing. Soon is a scientist.
  • Roy W. Spencer: Spencer is a climatologist and expert on satellite measurements of atmospheric temperature. He has claimed that internal variability from clouds is the driving force behind climate disruption, instead of human emissions of carbon dioxide. His recent book has been extensively debunked by climate science geochemistry professor Barry Bickmore (see part 1 here). Spencer is a scientist.
  • James M. Taylor: Taylor is a lawyer who edits a Heartland Institute climate and environment publication. He has made demonstrably false statements about climate science and misrepresented data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. He is not a scientist.
  • David G. Tuerck: Tuerck is an economist and the executive director of the libertarian Beacon Hill Institute. He is not a scientist.
  • Anthony Watts: Watts is a weathercaster for the AM radio station KPAY and the editor of the climate disruption denial blog While he studied electrical engineering and meteorology at Purdue, he has never said if he graduated. Watts is not a scientist.

So, out of 27 speakers, we have between 10 and 11 speakers who qualify as scientists – the rest are lawyers, economists, etc. That’s less than half of the speakers who have scientific credentials, and only seven have directly relevant climate science expertise.

With so few scientists and climate scientists, it’s misleading for the ICCC to be labeling the speakers as scientists on the conference website’s frontpage.