Willie Soon

willie-soon

Willie Wei-Hock Soon

 Credentials

  • Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, University of Southern California (1991).
  • M.Sc. University of Southern California (1987).
  • B.Sc. University of Southern California (1985).

Source: [1]

 Background

Willie Wei-Hock Soon is a physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Since 1992, Dr. Soon has been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory. Soon is also a receiving editor with the journal New Astronomy. [2]

Soon is a prominent climate change skeptic who has received much of his research funding from the oil and gas industry.

According to David Suzuki:

U.S. oil and coal companies, including ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, and the world’s largest coal-burning utility, Southern Company, have contributed more than $1 million over the past decade to his research. According to Greenpeace, every grant Dr. Soon has received since 2002 has been from oil or coal interests.” [3]

Stance on Climate Change

“The evidence in my paper is consistent with the hypothesis that the Sun causes climatic change in the Arctic … It invalidates the hypothesis that CO2 is a major cause of observed climate change – and raises serious questions about the wisdom of imposing cap-and-trade or other policies that would cripple energy production and economic activity, in the name of 'preventing catastrophic climate change'.” [4]

Key Quotes

June 19, 2014

Willie Soon is one of three “Global Warming Skeptics” to be recognized and given an award at the Heartland Institute's Ninth International Conference on Climate Change for “speaking truth to power, whistleblowing, and the defense of science.” Referencing the recognition and award, Soon states:

“Science and its practice are no longer free and willing today but instead are constantly terrorized by research funding gravy trains and group thinking. This is why science needs defending and it takes courage to cleanse science from those cancerous elements and to bring her forward in its rightful place again. I am humbled and honored by this recognition.” [31]

“I am here today to testify that the climate of the 20th century is neither unusual nor the most extreme. Around 1,000 years ago, the temperature over many parts of the world was warm. A widespread cooling then set in for several centuries, followed by a recovery to 20th century warming.” [5]

“There is no experimental data that exists that supports the view that the Earth’s climate is changing in any dangerous way.” [19]

“I don't like to claim that I am an expert on anything, but I have enough knowledge about climate science and climate system to be able to write scientific papers and go to meetings and talk about monsoon systems and talk about any other things that you want to discuss about climate science issues. I'm as qualified as anybody that you know on this planet on this topic.” [20]

Key Deeds

July 7 - 9, 2014

Willie Soon was a speaker at the Heartland Institute’s Ninth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC9) in Las Vegas, Nevada. [32]

DeSmogBlog has done in-depth research on the other speakers and sponsors from Heartland's ICCC9, which can be found here.

November 5, 2013

Willie Soon gave a Powerpoint presentation at a scholarly conference in Houston, Texas, on behalf of the Harvard Smithsonian Center, continuing to sow the seeds of doubt on man-made climate change. Soon, having collected over $1.2 million over the last dozen years in research funding from ExxonMobil, Southern Company, and the American Petroleum Institute, states that, “No amount of money can influence what I have to say and write, especially on my scientific quest to understand how climate works, all by itself.” [29]

September 23, 2013

Willie Soon asked about his fossil fuel funded research at a Heritage Foundation event [30]:

September 18, 2013

Dr. Soon appeared with Joseph Bast, of the Heartland Institute, on the Fox News Channel's “Special Report with Bret Baier” to discuss Heartland's release of Climate Change Resonsidered II: Physical Science. [28]

March - April, 2013

Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT Campus) is bringing “Harvard Astrophysicist” Willie Soon to college campuses throughout the Midwest US. While many publications have suggested otherwise, Willie Soon is not actually employed by Harvard University, but rather the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (separate from the Harvard campus and not officially affiliated with the university). 

On April 2, during his lecture in Madison, Soon became defensive after receiving the following question regarding his funding by fossil fuel interests: [21]

“You have received over one million dollars in funds from coal and oil interests. The last grant you received from a funder with no ties to the energy industry was in 2002. That's over a decade ago. So Dr. Soon, why should we trust someone without credentials in climate science whose work is only funded by coal and oil interests?”

View his response below:

Video highlights:

  • 00:41-1:43 — “I have received funding from [the] Federal Government, but I stopped receiving. I have [not received a] penny of money from the government since 2004 or so. And I have been receiving money from whoever that wants to give me money. […] I have received money from ExxonMobil, but ExxonMobil will no longer give me any money for a long time. American Petroleum Institute, anything you wish for, from Southern Company, from all these companies. […] If they choose to fund me, I'm happy to receive it.”
  • 01:48-02:18 — “I don't like to claim that I am an expert on anything, but I have enough knowledge about climate science and climate system to be able to write scientific papers and go to meetings and talk about monsoon systems and talk about any other things that you want to discuss about climate science issues. I'm as qualified as anybody that you know on this planet on this topic.”
  • 02:24-02:33 — “I do not want to take any more questions of this kind, unless you have a science question.”
  • 02:31.5-02:57 — “The answer could be answered yourself if you had a bit of intelligence. I was trying to conspire to bring down IPCC, right, yes? Is that what you're trying to imply? So be it. Let it be known that I do not like IPCC, because IPCC does not stand for science, it is corrupting science. period.”
  • 5:14 — “I really want to thank her, because she's receiving the electricity used for her house, she's driving cars, she's doing all of these things because you are funding me. It's not an oil or coal company. They are a company that provides a service to humanity–to people who want to use electricity.”

May 21 - 23, 2012

Willie Soon was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's 7th International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC7).

DeSmogBlog researched the co-sponsors behind Heartland's ICCC7 and found that they had collectively received over $67 million from ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers and the conservative Scaife family foundations.

June 30 - July 1, 2011

Soon was a speaker at the Heartland Institute's Sixth International Conference on Climate Change. [6]

May, 2010

Soon was a speaker (PDF) at the Heartland Institute's 2010 International Conference on Climate Change. [7]

March 8-10, 2009

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change (2009). [8], [9]

July 13, 2008

Spoke at the 26th Annual Meeting of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, a conference in Tucson Arizona co-sponsored by Access to Energy, Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and Physicians for Civil Defense.

His speech was titled “Endangering the Polar Bear: How Environmentalists Kill.” [8]

March 2-4, 2008

Speaker at the Heartland Institute's International Conference on Climate Change (2008). [8]

March, 2007

Willie Soon co-authored a “viewpoint” article published in the journal Ecological Complexity (Vol. 4, Issue 3, pp. 73-84) announcing that global warming was not threatening polar bear populations. Other authors included climate change skeptics Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball.

July 29, 2003

Testified (PDF) before the U.S. Committee on Environment and Public Works on the subject of climate change. [5]

January 31, 2003

Soon co-published a controversial review article titled “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years” (Climate Research, 2003) with Sallie Baliunas. The article claims that the twentieth century was not the warmest century in the past 1,000 years and that the climate has not changed significantly during this time. Senator James Inhofe used this article as proof that climate change is caused by natural variability, not human activity. 

After the article was published, three of the editors of Climate Research resigned in protest, including incoming editor-in-chief Hans von Storch. Storch declared the article was seriously flawed because “the conclusions [were] not supported by the evidence presented in the paper.” In addition to the resignations, thirteen of the scientists cited in the paper published rebuttals stating that Soon and Baliunas had misinterpreted their work. 

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists' 2007 report, “Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air,” the National Research Council recently published research concluding that the “global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period in the preceding four centuries.”

 Affiliations

 Publications

According to Google Scholar, Willie Soon has published some articles on the connection between solar activity and climate change. [18]

Many of these articles were not published in peer-reviewed journals, but were rather published by organizations skeptical of climate change such as the Fraser Institute (here and here), The George C. Marshall Institute (here and here), and in the skeptical science journal Energy & Environment (here).

Key Publications

  • Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years” (PDF), Climate Research, Vol. 23 (January 31, 2003) page 89–110.

Books

  • Willie Soon, Sallie L. Baliunas, Arthur B. Robinson, Zachary W. Robinson. Global Warming: A Guide to the Science. Fraser Institute, November 30, 2002.

Other Publications

There is a list of Soon's Publications at the Marshall Institute, and SourceWatch also maintains a list of Soon's presentations and publications. Some samples are listed below:L

  • Arthur B. Robinson, Sallie L. Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Zachary W. Robinson.”Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” (PDF), Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, January 1998.
  • Willie W. -H Soon. “Variable solar irradiance as a plausible agent for multidecadal variations in the Arctic-wide surface air temperature record of the past 130 years” (PDF), Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 32 (August 2005).

Related DeSmogBlog Posts

 Resources

  1. Research Staff Listing: Willie Soon,” Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Accessed November 17, 2011.

  2. New Astronomy Editorial Board,” Elsevier. Accessed February, 2012.

  3. David Suzuki. “Investigation hits at climate change denier's 'science',” Canoe.ca, July 13, 2007.

  4. “It’s the Sun, stupid!”, Iceagenow.com. March 5, 2009.

  5. “Climate History and the Science Underlying Fate, Transport, and Health Effects of Mercury Emissions,” Summary (PDF) of Hearing Before the Committee on Environment and Public Works, July 29, 2003. Page 6.

  6. Willie SoonICCC6 website, courtesy of the Heartland Institute.

  7. “4th International Conference on Climate Change” (PDF), The Heartland Institute. Retrieved February 17, 2012, from the homepage of Laurence I. Gould, hosted on the University of Hartford's web server.

  8. Willie Soon,” SourceWatch Profile.

  9. 2009 International Conference on Climate Change,” The Heartland Institute, February 1, 2009. Republished by Instituto Liberdade.

  10. Scientific Advisors,” The Greening Earth Society. Archived February 20, 1999.

  11. Author Details: Willie Soon,” The Fraser Institute. Archived April 11, 2009.

  12. Personnel,” The Science and Public Policy Institute. Accessed November 17, 2011.

  13. “About the Authors,” P. 29 of “Lessons & Limits of Climate History: Was the 20th Century Climate Unusual?” (PDF), The George C. Marshall Institute, 2003.

  14. Heartland Experts: Willie Soon,” Accessed November 17, 2011.

  15. TCS Daily: Authors: Willie Soon,” TCS Daily. Archived April 9, 2009.

  16. Editors and Contributors,” World Climate Report. Archived July 3, 2003.

  17. CASE STUDY: Dr. Willie Soon, a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal,” Greenpeace.

  18. Google Scholar search of articles for keyword “Climate,” written by “Willie Soon,” completed November 17, 2011.

  19. Nikki Wentling. “Legislature considering delays in renewable energy standards,” Lawrence Journal World, February 5, 2013.

  20. Climate change denier Willie Soon questioned over Koch, Exxon funding at CFACT Campus event” (YouTube video), uploaded by PolluterWatch, April 8, 2013.

  21. Exxon- and Koch-funded scientist Willie Soon confronted at University of Wisconsin over discredited climate research,” Polluterwatch, April 8, 2013.

  22. Greenpeace Investigations on Willie Soon.

  23. ExxonSecrets Factsheet: Willie Soon.”

  24. Articles by Willie Soon,” TCS Daily.

  25. Willie Soon and Paul Driessen. “The myth of killer mercury,” The Wall Street Journal (opinion), May 25, 2011.

  26. How Soon is now?RealClimate.org, July 7, 2011.

  27. John Vidal. “Climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil companies, papers show,” The Guardian, June 28, 2011.

  28. Joe Bast, Willie Soon talking 'Climate Change Reconsidered' on Fox News,” The Heartland Institute, September 19, 2013.

  29. Researcher helps sow climate-change doubt,” The Boston Globe, November 5, 2013.

  30. Boston Globe Exposes Climate Denier Willie Soon,” Greenpeace, November 5, 2013.

  31. Joseph Bast. “Three Global Warming Skeptics Win Awards,” The Heartland Institute, June 19, 2014. Archived June 23, 2014.

  32. Return of Climate Denial-a-Palooza: Heartland Institute Hitches Anti-Science Wagon to Vegas FreedomFest,” DeSmogBlog, July 7, 2014. Archived July 14, 2014.

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