New documents obtained by Greenpeace via freedom of information filings show that a leading climate change denier, Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, allegedly accepted $US1.2 million over the past 14 years from energy companies and additionally failed to report conflicts of interest in his own research.
Soon is a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (but not actually employed by Harvard at all) who has long claimed that variations in the sun's energy is the primary reason behind global warming. Sadly, Soon's close relationship with energy companies isn't exactly new information. In 2011, Soon faced accusations regarding his funding but claimed the money didn't impact his research saying he would have even accepted money from Greenpeace had they been offering, according to Reuters.
Now, more documents show that was supposedly a lie. At least 11 papers published since 2008 neglected to mention any ties to energy companies and violated the policies of the publishing journals. The New York Times says that Soon described the papers as "deliverables," which he completed in exchange for money.
Willie Soon's reputation as a "scientist" has been under fire for years, but who knows if this new info will finally be the suture that shuts the mouth of one of climate change's biggest opponents. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center will be internally investigating the issue, which is good news. But this is really my favourite part of NYT's wordy takedown:
Though he has little formal training in climatology, Dr. Soon has for years published papers trying to show that variations in the sun's energy can explain most recent global warming. His thesis is that human activity has played a relatively small role in causing climate change.
Many experts in the field say that Dr. Soon uses out-of-date data, publishes spurious correlations between solar output and climate indicators, and does not take account of the evidence implicating emissions from human behaviour in climate change.
Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a NASA division that studies climate change, said that the sun had probably accounted for no more than 10 per cent of recent global warming and that greenhouse gases produced by human activity explained most of it.
"The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless," Dr. Schmidt said.
Damn, Dr. Schmidt isn't pulling any punches.
So maybe scientists aren't easily fooled, but there's a lot of dumb people out there and research like Soon's creates the illusion of a scientific debate where there really isn't one. [The New York Times]