A climate change denying scientist working for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has been accused of taking money from the fossil fuel industry and subsequently publishing research without disclosing his funding sources and potential conflicts of interest. According to documents obtained by Greenpeace through the Freedom of Information Act, Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon received $1.25 million from the Koch brothers, Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute (API), and Southern Company.
Around the issue of climate change, there is a 97% consensus amongst climate scientists and the research literature that humans are responsible for global warming, mainly through the emission of greenhouse gasses. Soon’s “research” leads him to claim that climate change is caused by the sun [An idea that U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dismissed in its 2013 report]. Being a climate skeptic, Soon has become very popular in certain political circles. He was praised by Senator James Inhofe, the Republican from Oklahoma who called climate change a hoax. Soon was also called by Republicans in the Kansas state legislature to testify against measures to promote wind and solar power. The Heartland Institute even gave him the “Courage in Defense of Science Award” for his work.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics released a statement saying that Soon is “a part-time researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,” and they are “greatly concerned about the allegations surrounding Dr. Willie Soon’s failure to disclose funding sources for his climate change research.” The institute also added: “Scientific evidence has demonstrated that the global climate is warming as a result of increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases generated by human activities.”
Of the 58 “experts” listed by the Heartland Institute as heroic deniers of climate change, The Daily Beast found that only three out of the 58 have credentials in climatology or atmospheric science. One of these three certified scientists, Patrick Michaels, has already admitted that 40 percent of his funding is from the fossil fuel lobby. Over time, we can expect that more climate change skeptics and “truthers” will be exposed as paid mouthpieces for fossil fuels.