Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

Tue, 2011-06-28 06:03Brendan DeMelle
Brendan DeMelle's picture

Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

Willie Soon, the notorious climate denier who has made a career out of attacking the IPCC and climate scientists, has received over $1 million in funding from Big Oil and coal industry sponsors over the past decade, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace report, “Dr. Willie Soon: a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal,” reveals that $1.033 million of Dr. Soon’s funding since 2001 has come from oil and coal interests. Since 2002, every grant Dr. Soon received originated with fossil fuel interests, according to documents received from the Smithsonian Institution in response to Greenpeace FOIA requests.

The documents show that Willie Soon has received at least $175,000 from Koch family foundations (Soon is a key player in the Koch brothers’ climate denial machine, as Greenpeace documented previously), $230,000 from Southern Company, $274,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, and $335,000 from ExxonMobil, among other polluters.

Dr. Soon is perhaps most well-known for his work with fellow astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas attempting to challenge the “hockey stick” graph of temperature records, first published by Dr. Michael Mann.  

But the documents reveal that he also fancied himself a ringleader of a coordinated effort to sully the IPCC’s fourth assessment, plotting with Exxon staffers years in advance about how to attack the 2007 report.

A letter that Dr. Soon wrote in 2003, uncovered by Greenpeace, states:

Clearly they [the AR4 chapters] may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all … But, as A-team, we may for once give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters, especially WG1—judging from our true expertise in the basic climate sciences …   

Even if we can tackle ONE single chapter down the road but forcefully and effectively … we will really accomplish A LOT!   

In all cases, I hope we can start discussing among ourselves to see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report or to re-direct   attention back to science …”

Soon has served on the roster of many oil- and coal-funded front groups over the past 15 years, from his role as “Scientific Adviser” at the coal-funded Greening Earth Society in the late 1990s, to his affiliations with a variety of Koch-Exxon-Scaife funded groups like the George C. Marshall Institute, the Science and Public Policy Institute, the Center for Science and Public Policy and the Heartland Institute.

Dr. Soon is among the speakers at the annual Denialapalooza climate denier meeting hosted by the Heartland Institute in Washington DC later this week. Since the theme of that Heartland junk science junket is “Restoring the Scientific Method,” perhaps the attendees will query Dr. Soon about the ethics of accepting a million dollars from polluter interests while claiming that climate change is nothing to worry about.


Previous Comments

I guess this is the main argument of this site. People get paid and thus have a conflict of interest.

The exceptions being on side scientists, on side politicians, on side media and on side experts. Their paychecks have no effect on them because their motives are pure. They are the good people. Angels. Prophets. Holy Men. Above all reproach and standing tall in contrast to the depraved, evil, money grabbing, heartless destroyers of worlds.

Thats it right?

except both groups shop in the same places, go on the same vacations and live lives that are basically the same.

You are using hyperbole to overblow the assertions that this article, and this site, puts forth. If one looks at Willie Soon’s publications, stance, and funding source, there is a quite obvious conflict of interest, right? Would you agree with that? Would you agree that it would be wise to be be wary of his claims? That is the main argument here in this article, using documents and evidence and presented in a mostly even-toned fashion.

Now as far as scientists and the politicians/experts that agree with them being portrayed as “Angels. Prophets. Holy Men.”. Can you find evidence to show that prominent climate scientists are receiving a million dollars over the course of the past 10 years from a solar or wind company?

“both groups shop in the same places, go on the same vacations and live lives that are basically the same.”

I know Dr. Richard Alley has said that he rides his bicycle to work and attempts to reduce his footprint the best he can. I’m not sure about other scientists and experts. I also ride my bike to work based on the evidence I have seen that it is an effective thing to do. Are you implying that people that know about the evidence for global warming are not trying to reduce their footprint, thus they don’t “really” believe in the evidence? How do you know this? Do you have detailed knowledge of the carbon footprints of scientists and politicians, etc?

you think riding your bike to work is effective? to stop global warming? wow.

Sigh. I meant that it is effective on an individual level, obviously. If I am the only one in the United States riding my bike to work while everyone else in the United States drives in their individual Hummers for 20 miles one way, then sure, it certainly wouldn’t mean jack in the grand scheme of things. Nevertheless, just like it is our civic duty to vote in a political election, I feel it is just as important to vote using our behaviors in society and the marketplace.

I forget if it was the IPCC third or fourth assessment, but there was mention that even a few percent penetration of bicycle travel can make fairly substantial reductions in GHG emissions in a developed country. It is the most efficient means of transportation, more efficient than a fully loaded bus and even walking. As far as my personal footprint it is indeed a very effective mode of transportation.

In summary, take your sarcasm elsewhere.

Soon, as others like him, has pasted himself into a corner and cannot back out now. It is clear that he, and all the other luke-warmers should no longer be considered serious scientists - their opinions count for nothing except to be placed on the scales when justice is served to those who have helped delay climate change action for so long.

The future of humanity has, and all those organisms which share this planet have, been held hostage by these despicable persons who’s greed (and perhaps thirst for fame) has overcome any sense of propriety and decency.

My sense of outrage cannot even be tempered by thought of judgement after death - for I firmly believe (and I have brushed with the boatman on the Styx) there is nothing else after this life.

That implies that a true Christian spirit would not conduct themselves in the manner of these people and of those who pay them.

Cue rabid replies from the logically challenged that infest these comments from time to time. Counting 1 - 2 - 3 - —-

Ah! Looks like I was beaten, because of word verification ambiguity- again.

How about these poor people in dire straits:

LOLO you way around that Lolo.


Good grief man… Are you serious?
Are you really offering that as some sort of AGw evidence.

The Headline says “Horn of Africa sees ‘worst drought in 60 years’ ”

Clearly this happened 60 years ago so that alone makes it meaningless in this debate.
Also, the link between Climate and random weather events was debunked long ago.

So while it is an unfortunate natural event, it has no relevance here..

I would not have thought I would have to point out the increadably obvious. Bad enough to have to point the merely obvious.

The good thing about Soon & deniers like him is, full global acceptance of sound AGW science is not far away & deniers for hire like Soon, Ball, Carter, Plimer etc will be out of a job.

Then again, it hasn’t stopped people like Fred Singer from defending smoking & the CFC manufacturers back in the days of the ozone controversy.

Denier scientists just lack that part of the brain that others do that tells them to do the right thing.

The brain part your are trying to refer to is the madula oblong Gullable.

And yes sceptics do lack it.

It should be noted that the controversial 2003 paper that Soon co-authored was so bad that half of the editorial board of the journal in which it was published resigned in protest over the journal’s handling of that paper. Details here:

The paper in question can be downloaded from here:

If you have a lower-division undergraduate background in basic statistics and Earth-science, you should have little trouble identifying at least a couple of “show-stopper” blunders in the paper’s methodology section. For a legitimate scientist, putting out a paper like this is known as a “CLM” (Career Limiting Move). But in denier-world, any junk that is good enough for Glenn Beck is good enough for the folks who fund stuff like this.

I would imagine that the paper is an embarrassment not only to the journal that published it, but also to the legitimate funding agencies that sponsored it (funding-agency acknowledgements are almost always included in papers published in scientific journals). Rather interesting to note from the Wiki article that one agency denied having anything to do with that paper, while a couple of others said that they were only sponsoring solar variability (not climate) research.

I think you may be refering to Michael Manns paper there.

That was and still is a colossal embarrassment.

I do recall some e-mails from the Climate Scam inner circle talking about how they had to keep Soons paper out of print.
You know Climategate……

Seems it was seen as too damageing to the scam to a focused smear campaign had to be launched….. Guess it is still in operation.

Let me guess, you have an automatic form filling like this :
“I do recall some e-mails from the Climate Scam inner circle talking about how they had to keep [insert name of the “skeptical” scientist caught the hand in the oil cookie jar right above] paper out of print.
You know Climategate……”

And I won’t ask the rhetorical question “am I right ?” because I followed enough this Climategate fashion to exactly know what has been said. Don’t even try the “you didn’t read the mails” defence.

Emails Defence???

There can be no defence of such blatent abuse of position, Dishonesty and clear manipulation of facts and process.

the emails were clear. they clearly showed the “behind the scenes” rigging of the climate fraud.

No defence possible.

Quote from Anonymous : “I do recall some e-mails from the Climate Scam inner circle talking about how they had to keep Soons paper out of print.
You know Climategate……”

Sorry, it was really hard to find : it was above my message. My apologies

So ? The mail ?

Its in here.
when I have more time I may sift through it to the actual email.
In the mena time, this has a pile of damning emails in it.

Entertainment enough for an evening or two.

Are you saying that appalling science that would not get published anywhere normally besides the back of mining canteen menu’s should be published, just for the sake of having another view, no matter how wrong it is?

The review into that incident concluded:

“The Review’s conclusion on the peer review allegations was as follows (its emphasis):

On the allegations that there was subversion of the peer review or editorial process we find no evidence to substantiate this in the three instances examined in detail. On the basis of the independent work we commissioned (see Appendix 5) on the nature of peer review, we conclude that it is not uncommon for strongly opposed and robustly expressed positions to be taken up in heavily contested areas of science. We take the view that such behaviour does not in general threaten the integrity of peer review or publication. [1.3.3]”

Phil … You are not paying attention.

Of course the review said that. Have you completely ignored the email record showing clearly that they were desperate to try to discredit Soon.
They were scared to death of what would happen to the scam if he was able to publish.

Secondly. Mann got is Fradulent Hokey Schtick paper published.
So clearly the insiders got published and the outsiders were stonewalled.

it just that obvious.

Oh yes….of course…..the conspiracy, yeah…..ok?!

Yes, do please tell us in which e-mail Jones says he will do everything he can to keep Soons paper out. I am expected a LOT of crickets for the next, oh, actually eternity!

Oh no Bam…the conspiracy…..noooo! Not the gravy……no…not the gravy!.Haha.

The Willie Soon / Sallie Baliunas paper in Energy and Environment that was so bad half the editorial staff resigned over was actually one of the two papers Phil Jones wanted to keep out of AR4 and was hyperbolically stating that he would be willing to redefine peer review in order to keep the papers out. The result? The papers made it in there but were placed in context with the weight of the evidence on one side and those two papers on the other.

What is your problem with it? He basically does a literature review for the medieval warm period and the little ice age. He found evidence for both around the world in many, many, peer-reviewed papers. Are you claiming that one paper from a new post-doc (Michael Mann) is enough to rewrite the history books? I don’t think so. There are way to many proxies that prove otherwise. Soon just pointed it out. I disagree that this paper is an embarrassment. It is quality work written in a classical style you don’t see much anymore.

Followup to Rick James –

Download the paper I linked to in my previous post here. Read the paper’s methodology. If you have a basic (college undergraduate) understanding of statistics and Earth science, you should be able to flag at least a couple of “whoppers” in the paper’s methodology.

This has nothing to do with Soon’s funding, but the quality of his climate research (which is garbage that would get an undergraduate flunked out of science classes at any reputable university).

Okay lets assume this is bad, paid for science. If so, its a case of oil companies throwing money around to no purpose. That I could believe. Oil companies are good at pumping oil but they may be useless in other areas.

Selling oil in the world market is like selling ice cream on a hot day or selling cigarettes inside a prison.

The customers are addicted and no amount of negative advertising will make any difference.

There are only 2 possible ways oil use can decrease. Economic disaster and oil shortage. Environmentalism wont do it. Global Warming? not a chance.

And now that you let aside climate science to discuss politic choices and economy,your message is way better and can be truely debated.

You are right : we are addicted on oil, and it will be really hard to get out of it. But solutions exist to decrease this dependency : energy savings, putting more energy types in the mix (even though some energies, like the nuclear energy, need to be better devised because of their restrictive use conditions), a conscious choice of citizens to change some habits - and society also : it is not evil to stop working during the hottest hours of the day instead of using lavishly climatisers.
I think that it will not be enough, that indeed oil as fertilizer or basic chemistry component will be sorely missed. We obviously need some R&D investments.

We do indeed need to transition off oil.

We only have about 500 years of it available.

So perhaps sometime in the 22nd or 23 century the time will be right.

But to push it now because of a scam is just imoral. The only possible reason to do it now would be to make a lot of greenies very rich.

Gore would be one of the first of course.
Soros, GE, Strong, Suzuki, etc etc.

500 years ?
I do not work in oil industry, but I get often in touch with oil geophysists. They say that oil reserves are more than announced - but they also say the cost will skyrocket. Deep water drilling is very costly, and oil fracking … well, the environmental cost is so huge some governments went already on full brake.
500 years is exaggerated, especially considering the opinions of the retired oil geologist union (don’t remember the name), the AIEA, and even the recent admissions from Saudi Arabia (or Koweit ? Don’t remember) that the reserves were a bit lower than previously announced. Unless you have a deadly serious source confirming this number …

Another problem is the oil production peak, and this one is already happening. With the growing appetite of China and India, oil drilling industries struggle to cope up with the demand. So, even if reserves were infinite, there is a production lock that we have to solve.
Either by spreading the energy mix, or making somehow big savings. And the second option can happen in a soft way (we do it) or in a very unpleasant way (we hit the production wall hard).

In both cases, there is a quickly growing problem with oil.

What I find interesting is that you didn’t even *consider* downloading the paper and looking at it first, even though I served you up a link to the paper on a silver platter. I even told you where to look in the paper to find the most obvious problems (the section where the paper’s methodology is described).

Now, why haven’t you even *looked* at the paper? Is it because you are fully aware that you are in *way* over your head scientifically/technically and that you don’t want to admit it?

Its entirely possible that I may look at the paper at some future time. I set my own schedule for such things. Dont give up hope.

One aspect about Desmogblog and Greenpeace seems to be that you guys can find and show the public a sample of the raw documents from these climate change denial groups (letters, memos, reports, etc). Keep digging, and keep speaking up.

This was soooooooo predictable.
I actually wonder why it took so long.

Now that it is clear that the SUN is indeed in control of the climate, A smearing of the honest and impressive work of scientists like Soon was enevatable.

All BS of course but predictable and enevatable.

Unfortunately for the warmist Cult, people only need to look out their windows now to see that the CAGW scam was just that.

Ahhhh… so amusing to watch the movement fall apart.

Who – the thousands of people in Minot, ND, who fled from the rising water?

– the entire townspeople in Los Alamos, NM, who fled from the fire?

That is for this week. This spring Americans left their homes in unholy numbers because of “extreme” weather.

These are people who cannot look out their windows and see for themselves global warming is not happening. They can”t get back to their homes or their homes are destroyed by something that is not happening.

Oh, I forgot, even in the 1960s houses used to burn down. That proves global warming in not happening.

“extreme” weather

Are you really going to try to convince people that some bad weather proves the AGW hoax?


that silly talking point has even been discredited by warmists it is so dumb.

The more I read here the more it reminds me of Creationists.

Just no logic involved.

there is too MUCH bad weather now, worldwide, and it is as was predicted by climate scientists.

Climate scientists said in the early 90s they could see the signature of global warming. Now some have said that the unusual weather – the amount of severe weather – is a consequence of global warming.

I don”t think you are familar with the logic – the math and the physics – of science.

Perhaps you should do a little more reading.

The only thing that there is more of these days, is reporting of and sensationalizing perfectly natural weather events.

it is merely a warmist talking point that weather is getting more extreme….

Go look it up. Take no ones word for it, find out for yourself.

It’s happening exactly as scientists predicted. Just because there is no handheld measuring device that we can walk up & stick into a rising floodwater & get a print out that says “yep, this one is attributed to AGW”, doesn’t mean it’s not.

Deniers will keep denying even if we did have that type of equipment. Only their political party can change their minds.

they predicted that temps would stay the same for the last 12-15 years? pls find that for me.

“they predicted that temps would stay the same for the last 12-15 years? pls find that for me.”

Please provide a link to what you are referring to.

“they predicted that temps would stay the same for the last 12-15 years? pls find that for me.”

Oh yah, just look at it plummet.

LOLOL.. Phil

Pay attention.. The scientists are very quick to point out that they dont predict anything. They provid scenarios.

Let me translate to lay terms.

They run computer simulations with varying inputs to produce pretty much any and all possible outcomes, then what ever happens, they say ……

No mater what happens they can say it is within the renage of scenarios.

A well designed scam I do have to admit.

for what its worth, tropical cyclone storms are on a steady multi year decline.

“for what its worth, tropical cyclone storms are on a steady multi year decline.”

For what its worth. Deniers like to tell one side of the story & are fond of cherry picking. Two can play at that game.

Hurricane frequency has doubled over the last century.

Is the the southern hemisphere global is it? Its a hard one to work out i know.

Greg Pavelka, a wildlife biologist with the Corps of Engineers in Yankton, SD, told the Seattle Times that this event will leave the river in a “much more natural state than it has seen in decades,” describing the epic flooding as a “prolonged headache for small towns and farmers along its path, but a boon for endangered species.” He went on to say, “The former function of the river is being restored in this one-year event. In the short term, it could be detrimental, but in the long term it could be very beneficial.”

trying to go ‘back to the normal function’. see they felt the river had self esteem problems and mother nature was being abused with the dams so they wanted to help out. only a ‘headache’ for the humans but what a ‘boon’ for endangered species. read this and learn:

for those of you with a harvard education i may need to point out that in the article it quotes someone from the ‘corps of engineers’. an ‘fyi’, corps is pronounced ‘core’.

I dont think Obama reads this blog, but you never know.

Of course the Sun controls the climate. It took climate scientists to figure that out and by how much! But CO2 and other GHGs absorb infrared and add to the effects of the Sun in additional forcings and feedbacks. That’s been known since the 19th Century.

Question: Why is the stratosphere cooling while the troposhere warms, and why are nights warming faster than days?

Answer: It’s not because of the Sun.

why is there no hotspot?

The so-called hotspot is not something a feature specific to greenhouse gas induced warming but of any global warming, whether its due to increased levels of greenhouse gases or increases in solar radiation. Chris Colose explains as much here:

“Tropospheric warming in the tropics is a signature of greenhouse warming, but it is more accurate to say that it is not a unique signature (i.e., you get this ‘hotspot’ with all types of forcings). The ‘hotspot’ arises due to the moist adiabat. In the extra-tropics you do not don’t expect the lapse rate changes to be so dominated by moist convective effects.”

Skeptics/Denialists Part 2: Hotspots and Repetition
Posted on December 20, 2008

He also points out that it is part of a negative feedback, and if the “hot spot” isn’t there then global warming will actually be somewhat stronger than we expect. Not exactly what you would expect climate denialists to want to advertise.

However, more recent studies suggest that the models may not be doing that bad of a job modeling tropical tropospheric warming after all.

Please see:

“Given that (outside 5°S-20°N) the sonde warming is equal to or less than MSU for both TLT and channel 4 vertical weights, one would also expect it to be on the low side in channel 2, which straddles them. In fact it falls near the top of the reported MSU results for channel 2. This peculiarity occurs for both the RSS and UAH datasets, though much more extremely so for UAH. [cce begins quoting here] Insofar as the vertical distributions shown in Fig. 3 are very close to moist adiabatic, as, for example, predicted by GCMs (Fig. 6), this suggests a systematic bias in at least one MSU channel that has not been fully removed by either group.”

pg.5346 (pdf pg 11), Sherwood et al.(2008 October 15) Robust Tropospheric Warming Revealed by Iteratively Homogenized Radiosonde Data, Journal of Climate, Vol. 21, pp. 5336-50

“In the tropical upper troposphere, where the predicted amplification of surface trends is largest, there is no significant discrepancy between trends from RICHRAOBCORE version 1.4 and the range of temperature trends from climate models. This result directly contradicts the conclusions of a recent paper by Douglass et al. (2007).”

Haimberger, Leopold, Christina Tavolato, Stefan Sperka, 2008: Toward Elimination of the Warm Bias in Historic Radiosonde Temperature Records—Some New Results from a Comprehensive Intercomparison of Upper-Air Data. J. Climate, 21, 4587–4606

“We find that tropospheric temperature trends in the tropics are greater than the surface warming and increase with height. Our analysis indicates that the near-zero trend from Spencer and Christy’s MSU channel-2 angular scanning retrieval for the tropical low-middle troposphere (T2LT) is inconsistent with tropical tropospheric warming derived from their MSU T2 and T4 data.”

Qiang Fu and Celeste M. Johanson (26 May 2005) Satellite-derived vertical dependence of tropical tropospheric temperature trends, Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 32, L10703

models predicted a hotspot. there is none and the scramble to defend why there isnt one started long ago.. sounds like its time to call…….your guru for bullshit…

Well, technically it isn’t a hotspot but a region in the tropical mid-troposphere where temperatures rise more rapidly than the surface due to increased moist air convection that plays a stronger role in the transfer of heat in the tropics. The tropics are generally warmer, and for every degree Celsius you increase the humidity of saturation by roughly 8 percent, doubling it every 10°C. More recent studies suggest that the tropical mid-troposphere actually does warm more quickly that the surface as the result of greenhouse gas or solar forcing.

See above in the comment you are presumably responding to.

As for Skeptical Science if I had been pulling info from one of their articles I would have cited it. But as it is they have more information and more recent papers that they cite.

Please see:

There’s No Tropical Hot Spot
by Things Break

Also see:

What Causes the Tropical Hot Spot
by John Cook

So yes, by all means, cite the guywith the PhD (John Cook, the author of the latter article) – rather than getting one’ “scientific opinions” from somebody who simply calls himself “rum” with a small “r”.


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