The Washington Post Sunday

Climate scientists are in it for the money.


When the second volume of the National Climate Assessment was released last month, Rick Santorum, a Republican former senator from Pennsylvan­ia, took to CNN to proclaim that climate scientists “are driven by the money that they receive.” Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) appeared on the network the next day declaring the report to be “made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.”

I was one of the report’s authors. How much did I earn for the hundreds of hours I spent on it? Nothing. Nearly every day, climate scientists are accused of venality. Our other purported sins include fabricatin­g data, selling out to “big green” — which supposedly tethers our grant money to doom-and-gloom findings — and fanning the flames of hysteria to further our nefarious agenda.

The reality is that nearly every climate scientist could make at least the same amount of money — and often much more — in a different field, including the oil industry. And the money we do receive in grants doesn’t go into our pockets. A $1.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation provided me with a mere $37,000 a year, all of which went to paying for the proposed work, including a graduate researcher, a computer and publicatio­n fees. (In summer, I do some climate-focused consulting with cities and water districts to cover my salary when I’m not teaching.) Santorum, meanwhile, receives a substantia­l income from serving as a consultant to Consol Energy, a coal company.

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