Roy Spencer: “I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.”

Inevitably, I’m sure most of you think Roy Spencer’s ‘job’ is to spread disinformation on climate science with the aim of stopping or delaying efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (see “The Great Global Warming Blunder”).

Technically, Roy Spencer is Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

Tragically, Spencer himself thinks his job is something a little different.

Incomprehensibly, in the comments section of his post on his new book Fundanomics: The Free Market, Simplified, he admits:

Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:July 5, 2011 at 5:47 AMNicholas, I would wager that my job has helped save our economy from the economic ravages of out-of-control environmental extremism.

I view my job a little like a legislator, supported by the taxpayer, to protect the interests of the taxpayer and to minimize the role of government.

If I and others are ultimately successful, it may well be that my job is no longer needed. Well then, that is progress. There are other things I can do.


Amusingly, let’s set aside the fact that Spencer acknowledges his “research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies.”


Tellingly, David Appell notes Spencer doesn’t say “that his job is to provide the best science he can for the taxpayers who pay his salary.” Accurate science has never been a priority for Spencer or his fellow disinformers — they hate government more than they love science (see “Krauthammer, Part 2: The real reason conservatives don’t believe in climate science”). That is the point of Spencer’s quote.

Hubristically, Spencer believes his job has helped stop climate action. Perhaps it has. Spencer was wrong — dead wrong — for a very long time, and his ‘blunder’ created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did. As RealClimate explained:

We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

So after that history, we’re supposed to savor all Roy’s new cookery?

That’s an awful lot to swallow.

Amazingly (or not), the “serial errors in the data analysis” all pushed the (mis)analysis in the same, wrong direction. Coincidence? You decide. But it remains hilarious that the deniers and delayers still quote Spencer lovingly, but to this day dismiss real science no matter how much it has been vindicated and verified by subsequent independent research.


Unintentionally, Spencer’s dedication to disinformation — along with his fellow deniers and disinformers — will certainly achieve the exact opposite result if what he intends. Preventing catastrophic global warming would have required relatively little government intervention (see “Intro to climate economics: Why even strong climate action has such a low total cost”). Spencer himself writes about his book that, “The main role of the government in the economy is help ensure people play fair.”

Obviously, destroying a livable climate for billions of people for decades if not centuries to come is not playing fair.

Equally obviously, listening to Spencer and his ilk and failing to act to reduce emissions will destroy the American way of life as we have come to know it, leading to untold misery and far bigger government than this country has seen in the post-WWII era (see “Real adaptation is as politically tough as real mitigation, but much more expensive and not as effective in reducing future misery: Scientists find “net present value of climate change impacts” of $1240 TRILLION on current emissions path).

Ineluctably, if we stay on that path, the government will inevitably get into the business of telling people where they can and can’t live (can’t let people keep rebuilding in the ever-spreading flood plains or the ever-enlarging areas threatened by sea level rise and DustBowlification) and how they can live (sharp water curtailment in the SW DustBowl, for instance) and possibly what they can eat. Conservative action against climate action now will force big government in coming decades to triage our major coastal cities — Key West and Galveston and probably New Orleans would be unsavable, but what about Miami and Houston? Who else can possibly fund massive sea walls and levees but government? Who else can respond to the mega-disasters that will be a yearly occurrence? For more details, see “Don’t believe in global warming? That’s not very conservative.

Ironically, then, Spencer and his fellow disinformers are ensuring the hugest possible government America has ever seen post-2025, one that will require, simultaneously, World-War-II scale investment in low carbon energy and WWII-style oversight of individual and corporate behavior — at the same time that it is investing in an unimaginably massive and endless adaptation program (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe). Let’s call them big-government conservatives.