None Too Soon – Warming Denier Feels Heat

February 23, 2015

The New York Times report yesterday fingering Climate Denial go-to “scientist” Slick Willie Soon as an Exxon Hack has grown legs.


The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has launched an
inquiry into one of its researchers, solar physicist and global warming
sceptic Willie Soon, following the release of documents that detail
research funds he and the institution received from the energy
industry and a conservative foundation.


Obtained by Greenpeace through a Freedom of Information Act
request and released by an affiliated group, the documents include
research contracts and describe specific commitments that Soon
and the CfA, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, made to corporate
funders. CfA officials say they are now investigating whether Soon properly reported the funding — he has received more than $1.5 million in private funding since 2001 —
to journals that have published his research.

The institution has no explicit policy requiring its researchers
to disclose funding sources when they publish, says CfA director
Charles Alcock, but they are expected to comply with journal rules,
which typically require that authors report potential conflicts of interest.

“We want to get the facts straight,” says Alcock. “If there is evidence
of failure to disclose, yes, we have a problem.”

Soon did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.


Still, Physical Geography published the 40-page study in 2009 after peer reviewers gave a green light, and Harden persuaded Soon to “adjust some of the wording… and take out some pretty toxic language” involving climate research.  At the time, however, she didn’t inquire about Soon’s funding sources or potential conflicts of interest. The journal’s publisher had “no specific disclosure form that I know of,” she says. “It was pretty much the honor system.”

Yesterday, however, Soon’s paper once again became a hot potato for Harden, now retired from the faculty of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. The New York Times and other outlets reported that Soon has received extensive financial support over the past decade from fossil fuel companies and others opposed to government regulation of greenhouse gas emissions– but has not always disclosed those financial links in his technical publications. The stories are based on documents obtained by two environmental advocacy groups, Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center (CIC). And the groups have now written to members of Congress and the editors of seven journals – including Harden — asking them look into disclosure issues surrounding nine papers. The CfA has also launched an inquiry into Soon’s disclosure practices, center director Charles Alcock told reporters.

“We’re concerned about the lack of transparency in science… and a possible ethical breach in not disclosing potential conflicts of interest in an area with important public policy implications,” says Kert Davies, Executive Director of the CIC in Alexandria, Virginia. (Soon’s work, he notes, is routinely cited by politicians opposed to government action on climate, and widely disputed by mainstream climate researchers.)

Soon did not respond to an email and phone message requesting comment.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Soon did not respond to the Times, Science, or Nature’s multiple requests for comment, but did talk to the reliably nuts Breitbart website. No, I won’t give them a link.





55 Responses to “None Too Soon – Warming Denier Feels Heat”

  1. […] This week’s media firestorm centering on Dr. Willie Soon, a high profile prop at many a gathering of climate deniers, was kicked off by Justin Gillis’ piece in the New York Times on Sunday. […]

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