Willie Soon

How the Creation of Mann's Hockey Stick Led to a Climate Denier Counter-Attack

Our DeSmog UK epic history series continues with a look at the creation of Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph and the counter-attack launched by the climate deniers.

Michael Mann was “still relatively fresh” out of graduate school when his work demonstrating the rise in global temperatures caught the attention of senior climate scientists. He was quickly selected as lead author for a new report on climate change.

The paper by Mann, and Professor Raymond Bradley and Professor Malcolm Hughes was titled Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing Over the Past Six Centuries. It introduced into the scientific literature what would soon become known as the ‘hockey stick’ graph.

Tobacco Gun for Hire James Enstrom, Willie Soon and the Climate Deniers Attack on Merchants of Doubt

James Enstrom

This article was co-written by Dan Zegart, author of Civil Warriors, the legal siege on the tobacco industry.

A leaked email chain reported earlier this week on DeSmog shines a harsh light on the behind-the-scenes coordination between well-known climate deniers and fossil fuel funded spindoctors. 

But it turns out that there is much more to this story than just climate change, and we find ourselves once again reaching back into the rich history of scientists paid by tobacco companies to conduct research bringing into question the links between cigarette smoke and cancer. 

The October 2014 email discussion, led by infamous climate denier Fred Singerasks whether it would make sense to file a lawsuit to try and stop the release of the new feature length documentary, Merchants of Doubt – a film tracing the tactics used by Big Tobacco to spread misinformation and how those same tactics are now being used by those attacking climate change science and the 97% consensus

As an expert-for-hire who has taken money from both Big Tobacco and fossil fuel companies over the span of his career, S. Fred Singer is a major focal point in Merchants of Doubt.

But where the really interesting story lies, is in two of the recipients of the Singer email who share an uncannily similar history.

Climate Deniers Double Down on Doubt In Defense of Willie Soon

Willie Soon Heartland

This is a guest post by Peter Dykstra cross-posted from Environmental Health News/The Daily Climate

The most remarkable aspect of Willie Soon’s soiled science scandal is that in the light of damning evidence of a serious ethical lapse, the climate denial camp shows no interest in self-policing.

When documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act showed Soon was promising “deliverables” for climate research funded by fossil fuel affiliates, the judgment outside the climate denial sphere was swift, largely because the evidence was from Soon’s own hand.

But many who embrace climate denial not only saw nothing wrong with this, they circled the wagons around their embattled Man of Science.

Denial For Hire: Richard Lindzen Cites Debunked Science to Defend Willie Soon in Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus that originally appeared at Huffington Post

Richard Lindzen, an MIT professor and longtime climate contrarian, turned to the Wall Street Journal to rehash a series of oft-disproved claims that deny the growing and now unequivocal evidence of climate change, all in defense of a fellow “skeptic” whose ties to fossil fuels have called into question the impartiality of his science.

Lindzen's arguments are a greatest-hits of climate denial, repeatedly and effectively disproved for years. He uses these easily dismissed arguments to defend what's left of the academic integrity of Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon against questions raised by members of Congress, who heard testimony from Soon without disclosure that he was being paid by fossil-fuel interests.

Lindzen's writing contained multiple errors or omissions. He:

•  Ignored the accuracy of climate models over the long term

•  Confused the impact of the sun on observed warming, long studied and long ago disregarded

•  Dismissed multiple lines of evidence by claiming clouds would offset warming

•  Glossed over the egregious breach of ethics in Soon's lack of disclosure of over $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests

•  Mischaracterized as threatening an attempt to identify improper industry influence on studies and Congressional testimony

Was Climate Science Denialist Willie Soon Funded To Do Science Or Was It Just PR Cash From The Fossil Fuel Industry?

Willie Soon fossil fuel funding

So one of the climate science denial industry’s most celebrated scientists has been caught describing his research work as “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders.

Dr Willie Soon, the aeronautics engineer who dabbles in public health, atmospheric science, solar physics and sea level rise, describes himself as an “independent scientist”.

More often though over the years, he is described by others as an “astrophysicist” at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, lending him credibility which most serious climate scientists would argue Soon’s science doesn’t deserve.

As one University of Michigan professor put it to the Chronicle of Higher Education: “Why is anyone even listening to him? Because he’s got ‘Harvard’ after his name. Once you take that away, who is Willie Soon? He’s nobody.”

In recent days, the Smithsonian has pointed out that even though Soon is employed as a “part time researcher at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory” they don’t actually pay him. “Dr. Soon pursues external sources to fund his research activity,” a statement said.

Soon has solicited more than $1.5 million since 2001 from fossil fuel companies and conservative foundations.

Coal electricity generator Southern Company, Exxon, Donors Trust, the Charles G. Koch Foundation and the American Petroleum Institute have been among his key funders.

Willie Soon's Climate Science Denial Wasn't Ever Credible: Climate Scientists

Willie Soon climate science denial

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” - NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, to the New York Times

Recent revelations regarding Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon's financing and coordination with fossil fuel companies for studies undermining the science of climate change has received quite a bit of attention. Our friends at the Climate Investigations Center have links to source documents, letters to the IRS and Congress, letters to journals that Soon appears to have mislead, and some of the press covering all of this.

The drama has largely outshone the main point among most scientists: Willie Soon's work is vastly discredited. For those who aren't familiar with Willie Soon's fossil fuel company contracting over the last fifteen years, there is probably a legitimate question of whether or not this guy deserves to be in his current pinch.

Frankly, he had it coming.

Scientists and science reporters have often had to waste their time addressing the interference of Soon and his cohorts, who take advantage of the public's general unfamiliarity with scientific nuance. 

But scientists too are talking about Dr. Soon's work and what it means for the troubled peer-review process that the most stringent journals usually adhere to. Here is a summary of some of the most interesting conversations in science publications about Willie Soon's #Fakexpert scandal.

Harvard-Smithsonian Profited as Much as Willie Soon with Fossil Fuel Funding

Willie Soon Harvard Smithsonian

Both Harvard and the Smithsonian Institute are trying to shake off the controversy surrounding Willie Soon, but these esteemed organizations should not be let off the hook easily.

Earlier this week, documents revealed by the Guardian and New York Times provide irefutable evidence that climate denier Willie Soon and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophyics received more than $1 million in funding from fossil fuel companies to deliver scientific reports that called into question the scientific conclusion that climate change is the result of burning too much oil, coal and other carbon-emitting fuel sources.

Harvard quickly tried to distance themselves from the Soon scandal telling the Guardian that “Soon operated outside of the university.” This, despite the fact that Soon “carries a Harvard ID and uses a Harvard email address.”

The Smithsonian Institute also reacted quickly announcing that they have tasked their Inspector General to look into the ethical conduct of Dr. Soon. 

“The Smithsonian is greatly concerned about the allegations surrounding Dr. Willie Soon's failure to disclose funding sources for his climate change research,” they said in a statement shortly after the scandal broke over the weekend. 

But who is going to probe the ethical conduct of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics?

After all, many of the documents include the organization's letterhead. Take for example this funding request to oil giant ExxonMobil to produce a paper on the understanding of solar variability and climate change:

Willie Soon Attacks Funders of Climate Denial for 'Lack of Courage'

Willie Soon is at the centre of a perfect climate science denial storm, writes Brendan Montague with additional reporting from Kyla Mandel.

The aerospace engineer working at the the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was caught out when telling his fossil fuel industry funders that his research papers and U.S. Senate evidence were “deliverables”.

The controversy made the front page of the New York Times and now his employer has launched an investigation into the ethics of his secret funding. There is even a petition asking for his dismissal.

And his day is about to get even worse.

How Often Were Willie Soon’s Industry-Funded “Deliverables” Referenced by the IPCC?

Thanks to a bombshell investigation reported over the weekend by The New York TimesThe Guardian, Inside Climate News and more, we now know that the prominent climate denialist Willie Soon, oft-cited by climate denying politicians and industry figures, calls his publications “deliverables” to his fossil fuel funders.

Some of these “deliverables” have even found their way into the reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), generally regarded as the most comprehensive evaluation of the current state of climate science.

Climate Denyin' Scientist Willie Soon Says 'I'm Lovin' It'...

Climate scientists tempted by the millions of dollars paid by the oil industry to researchers who happen to come up with the right conclusions have been warned – you would be better off flipping burgers.

Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, has accepted cash from the oil baron Koch brothers, oil behemoth ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute – the troika of industry-funded climate denial.

The New York Times on Sunday revealed that Soon promised “deliverables” including scientific papers and Senate testimony when negotiating terms with energy companies.

But the maverick researcher claims he would have been better off working for a burger chain and is walking on his uppers…

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