Climate Change Weekly #459: Remembering Jay Lehr – Scholar, Truth Seeker, Friend, Eternal Optimist

From Heartland Daily News

H. Sterling Burnett



  • Jay Lehr, Ph.D.: RIP—H. Sterling Burnett
  • Podcast of the Week: Socialism Will Not Win Despite the Current Energy/Supply Crises (Guest: Jay Lehr)
  • A Tremendous Loss to Mankind—James Taylor
  • The Amazing Accomplishments of Jay Lehr—Joe Bast
  • Jay Lehr, Superman—Tom Harris
  • We Will Win: to My Friend Jay Lehr—Rafaella Nascimento
  • Video: The Heartland Institute presents the Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award to Jay Lehr at ICCC13 in 2019
  • Video: Jay Lehr on getting rid of the U.S. EPA
  • Video: Jay Lehr – The Other Side of the Global Warming Story
  • Climate Comedy
  • Recommended Sites

Reserve your spot today!

Jay Lehr, R.I.P.

Last Thursday I received and unexpected call from Jim Lakely, vice president of The Heartland Institute, informing me that Jay Lehr, longtime Heartland Institute science director, had passed away. I was taken aback at the unwelcome news, unable to speak for a moment. Many of us, myself included, are still recovering from the news. As noted in last week’s CCW, Jay’s work and friendship touched many lives, so this week’s edition is devoted to remembrances of him. Separate remembrances from several of Jay’s colleagues and friends follows my comments.

Jay Lehr, 86, of Ostrander, Ohio passed away Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at Grady Memorial Hospital. Born September 11, 1936, in Bayonne, New Jersey, he was the son of the late Martin Moses and Rebecca (Dreznick) Lehr. On July 7, 1991, he married Janet Kingery at the Wyman Woods Park and they shared 31 wonderful years together.

Jay was an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, and author who testified before Congress on dozens of occasions on environmental issues and consulted with nearly every agency of the national government, as well as many foreign countries.

Jay was a leading authority on groundwater hydrology. After graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, he went on to receive the nation’s first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from The University of Arizona.

Jay was a professor of Hydrogeology at The Ohio State University in the 1960s and an adjunct professor for many more years. He spent 25 years as Executive Director of the National Ground Water Association. He then spent 25 years as Senior Scientist for The Heartland Institute. Most recently, Jay was Senior Policy Advisor for the International Climate Science Coalition. Jay was passionate about educating others on the science behind the fallacy of man-made climate change.

Jay was the author of more than 1,000 magazine and journal articles and 36 books. He was editor of Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns; McGraw-Hill’s Handbook on Environmental Science, Health and Technology (2000); the six-volume Water Encyclopedia (Wiley Interscience, 2005); and Wiley Interscience’s Nuclear Energy Encyclopedia: Science, Technology, and Applications (2011).

Jay was the author of numerous publications for Heartland during his years as Science Director, testifying before Congress, state legislatures, and at administrative hearings hundreds of times. Among the most influential papers he produced for The Heartland Institute was one arguing that the U.S. EPA had long surpassed its usefulness and exceeded its authority, and should be replaced as a regulatory body by a committee composed of state Environmental Protection Agencies. While the EPA still exists, in 2016, Jay’s plan influenced the 2016 Republican Party Platform, which included provisions:

to shift responsibility for environmental regulation from the federal bureaucracy to the states and to transform the EPA into an independent bipartisan commission, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with structural safeguards against politicized science. We will strictly limit congressional delegation of rule-making authority, and require that citizens be compensated for regulatory takings.

Jay was an enthusiastic proponent of these provisions, seeing them as a stepping stone to the ultimate goal of ending the EPA as we know it.

Lehr spoke in front of thousands of audiences on topics ranging from global warming and biotechnology to business management and health and physical fitness, always receiving high scores for entertaining and energizing even the largest audiences. Jay always showed up to his global warming presentations with business cards, on the back of which were a list of 10 climate myths, and a carbon dioxide (CO2) reader, to show students, teachers, and whoever else composed his audience that CO2 is not a pollutant, or dangerous at any levels they are likely to encounter. Indeed, the readings of his CO2 reader showed audience members they lived their daily lives in environments where CO2 levels are much higher than climate scolds say are deadly to life on earth.

Jay was a participant in every International Climate Conference hosted by The Heartland Institute, and was awarded the “Dauntless Purveyor of Truth Award,” at the 13th International Conference on Climate Change in 2019. No person was ever more deserving of that award. One can view his acceptance of the award and many of his other insightful presentations here.

With his workload, it is hard to fathom how Jay found time to pursue so many extracurricular passions, but he did. Jay was known as the “Father of Western Lacrosse.” He was assistant lacrosse coach at The Ohio State University in the ’60s. He loved playing club lacrosse, hockey and men’s hardball. He founded the Columbus Metros semi-pro football team. He was an avid skydiver, 10-time Ironman finisher, and multiple marathon finisher.

Jay was a proud Princeton alum (class of ’57). He was known throughout the Princeton community for his participation in the “Princeton P-rade,” where he walked the parade route on his hands for 20 years, then completed the route annually on his unicycle for another 20 years. Jay was also known for his love of skydiving, having completed 1,481 successful jumps, always with exact precision in hitting his target, “Earth.” Indeed, Jay was featured in Parachutist, the magazine of the U.S. Parachute Association, in March 2010, for setting a new world record, having jumped from an airplane each and every month for 32 years.

Jay was the most optimistic and energetic person you will ever meet. He always inspired others to reach their highest potential. He adored his wife, Janet, and cherished doing everything together, from traveling to biking to watching Hallmark movies. Every day was Christmas Eve to Jay. In addition to Janet, he is survived by his daughters, Leslie (John Truby) Lehr and Tracy (Mike) de Martino; stepchildren, Tonia (Richard) Birt and Tom (Colleen) Kingery; grandchildren, Juliette, Caty Joy, Marie Claire, Josilynn, Spencer, Emily, Abigail, and Landon.

That’s the official stuff. All of it true.

Now for a few personal impressions. Jay was the most extreme climate skeptic I have ever known (truly sad to write that in the past tense). I heard him say on more than one occasion it was impossible that human greenhouse gas emissions were causing climate change. He thought the physics just didn’t add up.

I don’t recall ever speaking with Jay about religion, but I do know he lived his life in a way every Christian should aspire to. He lacked ego, he was exceedingly kind, he continually pursued new knowledge, and he was an eternal optimist.

Some personal recollections highlight his lack of ego and gracious embrace of criticism. I was fortunate to have edited a number of Jay’s book reviews for Environment & Climate News, his op-eds, and the quotes he provided for stories.

I have known many scholars to take every word they write as gold, with no room for improvement or leeway for alteration. They fight almost any edit to their work. Jay was not one of those writers.

In his writings, Jay wasn’t always the clearest communicator, at least not for lay audiences without a background in higher math, physics, or other scientific disciplines. Sometimes, it wasn’t clear, even to me, what exactly Jay was saying. On those occasions, rather than going back and forth with edits and corrections over multiple emails, I would call Jay directly, and he’d take whatever time it took to hash through my lack of clarity. The conversation typically proceeded in the form of a Socratic dialogue, with me asking questions about what exactly Jay was trying to communicate, asking for further clarification, sometimes offering corrections or my gloss on what he wanted to say, and finally honing in on language that clearly and simply communicated the complex idea Jay had crammed into a few jargon-laden sentences. At the end, I would write out what I understood he wanted to communicate, to which Jay would invariably say, “That’s fabulous, that’s exactly what I intended to say, Sterling, you made it so much clearer.”

I was always humbled by him saying so. Usually, my confusion wasn’t so great as to merit a phone call; often, I just thought Jay’s writing or quotes could be simpler, more direct, and more focused. On those occasions, when I edited his articles or quotes, I would always run my rewrite by Jay for approval. Jay consistently told me I didn’t need to do so, that he trusted me, and was confident if I thought a change was needed for clarity or style, he was sure it was true. I never took Jay up on that offer, thinking it improper to put my take on his words in his mouth. Jay was always effusive in his praise of my edits and rewrites.

No one has ever accused me of being an optimist, but Jay remained one until his final days. For instance, in the last podcast I conducted with Jay, he explained that, despite my gloomy prognosis, Socialism Will Not Win Despite the Current Energy/Supply Crises. I left this conversation more hopeful than when it began, but then that was true of almost every conversation or exchange I ever had with Jay.

I was truly looking forward to dining and speaking with Jay at Heartland’s forthcoming climate conference in Orlando. I always sought him out at these conferences. Now there is a hole in my schedule as well as my heart.

  • H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D

SOURCE: Tribute ArchiveThe Heartland Institute

A Tremendous Loss to Mankind

The passing of Dr. Jay Lehr is a tremendous loss to The Heartland Institute family, to the field of science, and to the greater universe of mankind.

I first met Jay in 2001 when I joined The Heartland Institute. Back then and throughout the 20-plus years I knew him, Jay was the most enthusiastic and energetic man I knew. He was a man with a tremendous intellect yet tremendous humility. He would do anything for anybody and was more than happy to allow others to take the credit for his hard work.

Jay kept up a remarkable travel schedule, constantly touring the country—and indeed the world—while spreading his love of science and agriculture. Audiences loved his energetic demeanor and encyclopedic knowledge of science. While on the road, he would tirelessly spend his evenings writing book reviews and science articles for Heartland and others. Jay was the Energizer bunny of science.

It was impossible not to smile when seeing Jay. He effused good cheer, passion, and personal warmth. During times of trouble, Jay would always go out of his way to cheer me up with his kind heart, optimism, and compassion.

It does not seem real that I will never see him again at Heartland’s climate conferences or anywhere else. I will miss you, my friend.

  • James Taylor is president of the Heartland Institute.

Podcast of the Week

In this episode of Heartland’s Environment & Climate News Podcast from back in July, H. Sterling Burnett interviews Jay Lehr about how America’s current energy and food crises are not the unintentional results of misguided policies. Rather, the crises are the deliberate result of policies imposed to turn people into serfs, giving global elites more control over peoples’ lives. Elites want regular people to beg for ever more government help.

Fortunately, the people will eventually wake up. New technology and open markets will result in the removal of bad rulers, and thus, improved lives. The pendulum will swing back to freedom for a while. But we must fear protect freedom when authoritarianism creeps in.

Subscribe to the Environment & Climate News podcast on Apple PodcastsiHeartSpotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And be sure to leave a positive review!

Get your Copy at Amazon TODAY!

The Amazing Accomplishments of Jay Lehr

Dr. Jay H. Lehr was one of the world’s most famous scientists and fiercest critics of the corruption of climate science.

Lehr was marked for success at an early age, graduating from Princeton University at the age of 20 with a degree in Geological Engineering, then proceeding to gain the first Ph.D. in Groundwater Hydrology from the University of Arizona, and later becoming executive director of the National Association of Groundwater Scientists and Engineers.

Lehr first achieved national and international notice with the release in 1992 of Rational Readings on Environmental Concerns, a thick compendium of essays on a wide range of environmental issues written by many of the world’s leading scientists. The book’s recurring theme, that environmental risks are widely misunderstood and often exaggerated for political ends, would become Lehr’s lifelong message.

Rational Readings was one of a handful of books—others include Julian Simon’s The Ultimate Resource (1981), Simon and Herman Kahn’s The Resourceful Earth (1984), and Aaron Wildavsky’s But Is It True? (1997)—that exposed the growing corruption of science by progressives (including communists), who sought to frighten the public into embracing socialist policies. The book had a profound influence on the public debate at the time and an even greater long-term impact by letting many whistle-blowers in the science community know they were not alone.

While his research and publications alone placed Lehr in the pantheon of the world’s leading public intellectuals, his second superpower was being an extraordinary public speaker. He spoke before thousands of audiences, large and small, in the U.S. and around the world, invariably receiving standing ovations.

Lehr’s popularity with audiences was so great programs had to be delayed and audience members asked to follow him out of the room so the next speaker could have his turn.

Three factors made Jay one of the most influential scientists in the world. One was his short-term photographic memory. He could write a speech, rehearse it a few times, and then deliver it flawlessly without notes. A second factor was a metabolism that allowed him to work 18 and even 20 hours a day. Long after everyone else was sound asleep, Lehr would be studying, writing, and rehearsing for tomorrow. A third secret was Lehr’s physical fitness.

But Lehr’s most important secret to success was an amazingly positive attitude that animated his speech, gestures, and expressions. Good things weren’t just nice or even excellent to Lehr, they were “fabulous!” Guests on his podcasts weren’t just good, they were “the best guests I have ever had on my show!” Lehr’s enthusiasm was contagious; he radiated positive energy.

Lehr’s sunny outlook on life came in part from a philosophy he shared with me a decade ago (or maybe it was two). He called it his “Ten Rules for Living the Good Life.” They included “Be kind in every human interaction,” “Do not ever complain,” and what became a favorite of ours, “Let no one rain on your parade.”

I printed and framed Lehr’s “Rules for Living” and it hung above my desk for many years. I probably read those words a hundred times while trying to solve problems. I learned today that it still hangs on a wall at The Heartland Institute, four years after my retirement, inspiring others to find wonder in the world, speak the truth, and live the good life even today.

  • Joseph Bast was founder and president of The Heartland Institute. Bast retired in 2018.

Jay Lehr, Superman

Superman. That was my nickname for Dr. Jay Lehr during the almost three years he was Senior Policy Advisor to the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). As a child growing up, Superman was my hero. Superman was brilliant and worked hard. He was strong, super fit and handsome. He was kind, polite, and unpretentiousness. And, of course, Superman always told the truth and never backed down in the face of evil. I never thought I would actually meet someone like that in real life.

Then, along came Jay Lehr. At first, he seemed to be too good to be true. I had seen Jay from afar on stage as the Science Director of The Heartland Institute at their International Conferences on Climate Change and I marveled at this energetic, articulate, tanned, fit, and fearless octogenarian. Surely someone who appeared that awesome on the surface must be arrogant, were I to actually get to know him. But no. When we appeared together on Heartland panels, I realized that, yes, Superman did exist in the real world, the one-in-a-million person who combined a science Ph.D. with superb athletic prowess, hard work, and humility to boot. When the opportunity arose to bring Jay on board as ICSC’s senior scientist, I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity.

And Jay did not disappoint. In the past three years, he pumped out timely, well-researched, and exciting climate change and energy articles for me to add my two cents to before publishing. Since Jay started working regularly with ICSC in April 2019, articles and radio interviews from the “Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris” team numbered well over 600, primarily thanks to Jay’s unbelievable work ethic. And that was only our joint media effort. On his own, Dr. Lehr continued to publish many, many more. Was Jay hard working? Was he prolific? I’ll say!

But it was really his personality that made Jay such a valued co-worker and later a personal friend. Always upbeat. Always honest. Always supportive and complimentary to others and never a mean bone in his body. I will certainly miss Dr. Jay Lehr, a real-world Superman.

Tom Harris is chairman of the International Climate Science Coalition, based in Canada.

We Will Win: to My Friend Jay Lehr

All those who are at the forefront of the fight against the climate change delusion recognize the importance of Jay Lehr, his love for truth, for scientific rigor, and above all, for life. Jay wrote hundreds of articles, edited countless books and was always ready to collaborate with newcomers in this battle against the “evil dressed in green,” as he himself described it, after reading Yuval Noah Harari’s material.

Jay was a huge sports enthusiast. While I, who am not even half his age, talked about the thrill of running two miles, Jay was training for yet another ironman and planning yet another parachute jump. “The important thing is to be consistent and not stop training,” he said.

Jay was incredibly generous. He contributed to PHVOX (Brazil) with the same interest that he published his articles on larger platforms and aimed at an American audience. He, together with Tom Harris, invited international researchers to participate in the largest radio program in the United States, America Out Loud. He wanted the American public to have access to what was happening in Brazil, Chile, and Germany because of environmental fearmongering.

Jay was that friend you had the courage to send your texts to, written in a language in which you are not proficient. He was always ready to read and help as best he could. He was the most optimistic person I’ve ever met. He once explained that every day he sets out to accomplish one good thing, even if it means sweeping the floor. Jay is that good friend that I hope most people are privileged to meet at least once in their lives. I had.

Jay’s last article for PHVOX was titled “We Win.” Dear Jay, we will win this battle against evil. We lost one of our giants, but we, the smaller ones, will carry on your legacy. Rest in Peace Jay. You will be greatly missed.

Rafaella Nascimento, Ph.D., is a board member of the CO2 Coalition.

Heartland’s Must-read Climate Sites

The Heartland Institute presents the Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award to Jay Lehr at ICCC13 in 2019

The Heartland Institute presents the Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award to Jay Lehr at ICCC13 in 2019.

Jay Lehr on getting rid of the U.S. EPA

The Heartland Institute presents the Dauntless Purveyor of Climate Truth Award to Jay Lehr at ICCC13 in 2019.

Jay Lehr – The Other Side of the Global Warming Story

Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr presents, “The Other Side of the Global Warming Story” to a group of Science Teachers in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 2017.

Climate Comedy

via Comically Incorrect

Recommended Sites

IT’S BACK: The Heartland Institute’s Next CAN’T MISS Climate Conference

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is the director of The Heartland Institute’s Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.


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