Koomey and Romm: the mote and the beam

A team of climate researchers and activists fail to disclose federal funding and scold climate sceptic Willie Soon for not disclosing funding

Willie Soon has been under fire from climate activists for a long time. The latest round has turned ugly, ensnaring collateral targets like Roger Pielke Jr, Judith Curry, Richard Lindzen among others in questions of funding.

On his blog Pielke Jr remarked how undisclosed conflicts were ‘endemic’, and pointed to a paper† by Jonathan Koomey, Joe Romm and co-authors, published in Environmental Research Letters as an example. He quoted the instructions to authors from the journal:

“… All sources of financial support for the project must also be disclosed in the acknowledgments section. The name of the funding agency and the grant number should be given, for example: “This work was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through a National Cancer Institute grant R21CA141833.”

Koomey and Romm appeared on the Huffington Post with an article co-signed by scientists who are among the 53 authors of the paper. They declare no disclosure of funding was needed because they used no financial support (emphasis mine):

The reason why there was no statement of conflict of interest is because: 1) there were no “sources of financial support for the project” (it was a labor of love to honor a giant in the energy field) […]

They point to the acknowledgements section of the paper for the assistance received

no acknowledgement

They repeat the assertion

Again, our article had no funding source …

Via Google Scholar one can find other versions of the paper. One is from SciTech Connect, a US federal public-access research database run by the Department of Energy (DOE). The entry for Koomey et al reads as follows:

Scitech Connect

A pdf draft of the paper available from the page. Note the highlighted item against the field ‘DOE Contract Number’.

Interestingly, the acknowledgment section here states the work was supported by a US Department of Energy contract:


The blue box is from text being added separately using a pdf editor. Acrobat tells the extra text about US federal funding was added by a ‘JAWolslegel’ on the 10th of June 2009.

‘DE-AC02-05CH11231’ is a DOE ‘Prime’ federal contract with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) where Koomey worked. It is easy to find that a Jean Wolslegel works as ‘report coordinator’checking to see scientific documents published by the lab ‘comply with DOE and LBNL requirements’ and submits them to ‘DOE’s  Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI)’.

OSTI runs Scitech Connect—is how Koomey et al 2010 ends up there, with reporting of funding ‘in compliance with the DOE’. The paper was originally submitted to the journal in March 2009. The authors sent the paper to the journal without declaring funding but the same paper was submitted to a DOE data agency as product of federally-funded research.

Conclusion? Either Koomey et al worked on their own time, published the paper and falsely declared the work as DOE-funded to a US government agency. Or, Koomey and co-authors’ work was federally funded and reported to authorities appropriately but they failed to declare funding in Environmental Research Letters. It has to be one or the other, and either constitutes a lapse.

They irony is Koomey and Romm’s actions are like Soon’s: failure to disclose funding to journal. Only in Soon’s case the funding agency stipulated non-disclosure in some instances and in others the journal had no policy or requirement for disclosure. Not only do Koomey and Romm fail to disclose funding, they expressly state the opposite trying to morally berate a fellow scientist.

† Defining a standard metric for electricity savings. Koomey J, Akbari H, Blumstein C et al Environ. Res. Lett. 5 (Jan-Mar 2010) 014017)  10.1088/1748-9326/5/1/014017



  1. Scottish Sceptic

    Well done. Like all alarmists they have no moral compass and whilst they roll in money dolled out by gullible politicians and bureaucrats, they vilely attack those who work in our own time to expose their appalling hypocrisy.

  2. Jim

    Koomey and Romm just made Willie Soon’s defense for him. The “Why models run hot” paper truly did not have any funding sources … unlike, apparently, the paper that Romm protests about.

  3. Dodgy Geezer

    Ah, Mr Niggurath,

    I don’t think you quite understand how things are done in Climate Science.

    You see, Koomey and Romm are ‘Good Guys’ ™. So they can do no wrong. If they are seen to do wrong, this is an oversight, a mistake, due to them needing to work so hard to save the world. In fact, pointing out such a mistake is akin to denigrating a saint, and so proves that you are a bad guy, and should not be listened to.

    Dr Soon, on the other hand, is a ‘Bad Guy’, a ‘Climate Criminal’. So ANYTHING he does must be evil. If he helps a little old lady across the road, it was only so that he could try to steal her handbag. Every right-minded person should accuse him of all the crimes in the book, because if he hasn’t done them yet he must be planning to do them.

    In this case he must have had SOME funding, otherwise he couldn’t have stayed alive. Because he is evil, the funder must have been evil too, by definition. So it should have been declared, under money laundering, racketeering and funding terrorism legislation.

    See how easy it is to prove that Climate Change is happening…?

  4. Eli Rabett

    You appear unaware that all manuscripts being submitted for publication in US national labs have to undergo internal review and clearance. Part of the process is that the lab will lay claim to everything.

  5. Shub Niggurath

    Yeah, Eli Rabett, I was completely unaware of that. LOL. There’s is actually lots more where this came from – I just put one simple example out.

    In the same volume of the journal is another LBNL paper by Koomey’s former colleague, co-author Hashem Akbari:

    Surabi Menon et al Radiative forcing and temperature response to changes in urban albedos and associated CO2 offsets. Environ. Res. Lett. 2010 5 014005 (http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/1/014005/)

    This is how Akbari’s paper’s acknowledgement section looks like:

    This work was supported by the California Energy Commission (CEC) through its Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER), and by the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory under Contract No DE-AC02-05CH11231. […]

    So, unlike Koomey, Akbari and his co-authors declared their financial support – the same support Koomey’s paper has – to the journal.

    However, go to Scitech Connect and look for the paper: an entry cannot be found. It’ll be great if you can find an entry, I could not. In all likelihood, it was not submitted.

    So Koomey et al 2010 counts for departmental credit toward federal support at LBNL but they vehemently claim they derived ‘no financial support’ publicly, whereas Menon et al 2010 acknowledge financial support from the same contract in the same journal but do not submit the manuscript to OSTI for public access.

  6. Kevin ONeill

    Conclusion? Either Koomey et al worked on their own time, published the paper and falsely declared the work as DOE-funded to a US government agency. Or, Koomey and co-authors’ work was federally funded and reported to authorities appropriately but they failed to declare funding in Environmental Research Letters. It has to be one or the other, and either constitutes a lapse.”

    Huh? Those are the only two possibilities? You need to get out more.

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