Tag Archives: Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics

Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for Soon

A few days ago I suggested that Willie Soon’s career may be taking a nose dive soon. I was right. Tomorrow’s New York Times has a story that has as many leaks as an old canoe, so we can see it now in various outlets. The story is out and linked to below.

Before going into detail I just want to note that Justin Gillis is doing a great job at the New York Times.

Anyway, you can read the following items, the most recent listed here:

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for a Doubtful Climate Scientist

Willie Soon Gate

Willie Soon, will he soon be fired?

It really looks like Willie Soon has been paid by Big Fossil to write papers, which generally suck as science, suggesting that Anthropogenic Global Warming isn’t much of a thing. A lot of us have known this for some time, and have been complaining about it. Climate science deniers have been denying. Now, major media is putting the story together. Suddenly, we are looking at a sea change, and it is pretty wavy, and Willie needs a bigger boat.

First, the most important fact:

Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. He used the same term to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.

So, our planet, his deliverables. To the tune of over $400,000 pieces of silver. Nice going, Willie, this makes you kind of an asshole.

Then, this from the big boss at Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics:

Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, acknowledged on Friday that Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some journals.

“I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

Soon is employed by the Smithsonian Institution, which jointly sponsors the astrophysics center with Harvard.

“I am aware of the situation with Willie Soon, and I’m very concerned about it,” W. John Kress, interim undersecretary for science at the Smithsonian in Washington, said Friday. “We are checking into this ourselves.”

Charles, I’m not that impressed with you either. You let this go on in your institution for many years, and Soon isn’t the only climate science denialist you are harboring. WTF? Well, thanks for finally getting on with this. I do hope you have the wits to suspend his activities until the end of the HR investigation, because that could take some time. Otherwise he might pinch off a few more papers under your aegis.

I asked climate scientist Michael Mann what he thought of this news. He told me, “Willie Soon (as amply documented in my book “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars”) was instrumental in the early attacks on the Hockey Stick by James Inhofe and other fossil fuel industry-funded politicians. Now we know for certain that his efforts were a quid pro quo with special interests looking to discredit my work as a means of calling into question the reality and threat of climate change.” (Mann’s book is here.)

UPDATE: Senator Edward Markey will launch an investigation of Big Fossil company funding of bogus climate change studies, according to the Boston Globe:

“For years, fossil fuel interests and front groups have attacked climate scientists and legislation to cut carbon pollution using junk science and debunked arguments,” Markey said in a statement. “The American public deserve an honest debate that isn’t polluted by the best junk science fossil fuel interests can buy. That’s why I will be launching this investigation to see how widespread this denial-for-hire scheme stretches within the anti-climate action cabal.”

Markey will be looking into over a million dollars of funding from such companies as ExonMobil, Southern Company, Texaco, etc.

Other posts of interest:

Also of interest: In Search of Sungudogo: A novel of adventure and mystery, set in the Congo.