Willie Soon

A Brief Guide to Southeastern Anti-Solar Front Groups

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart of Climate Investigations Center

No one who reads this space regularly would be surprised to hear that the big utility companies employ front groups to further their political agendas in the states in which they operate.

After all, we’ve reported here on a scientist who was little more than a pseudo-scientific front for a big power company — Willie Soon, whom Southern Company, which is heavily-dependent on carbon dioxide-rich coal for its power plants, clandestinely funded to do research pointing away from human-produced CO2 as a cause of global warming.

Now an investigation by two Environment & Energy (E&E) reporters has traced a network of industry fronts and astroturf grassroots organizations spreading across the southeastern United States, all united in attacking state laws or regulatory or other efforts to make rooftop solar panels economical to use by allowing customers to sell any surplus electricity back to the grid. 

Willie Soon And Friends In The Early Days Before Climate Science Denial

Willie Soon is gathering with his Heartland Institute friends this week in Washington, DC for their latest Denial-a-Palooza stunt designed to mimic a science conference.

Australian Tax Breaks Help Fund Climate Science Denier Mark Steyn's Libel Defense in the US

WHEN the facts on climate change become inconvenient or they start to rub your ideology or vested interest up the wrong way, then there are really only two options available. 

Option one is to change your mind. Option two is to try and change, distort, misrepresent or just outright ignore the flood of scientific studies over decades showing the serious impacts of loading the biosphere with fossil fuel emissions.

Mark Steyn is a prominent conservative polemicist and writer in the United States and Canada who has chosen option two.

How ExxonMobil Boosted Old-School Sceptics' Attacks on Michael Mann

Our latest DeSmog UK epic history post examines the troop of climate sceptic scientists funded by ExxonMobil to attack Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph.

Neoliberal think tanks saw a significant boom period in the 2000s thanks to ExxonMobil’s continued spending to fuel the fire against the climate science consensus.

As per the Climate Action Plan – written in 1998 as a blueprint for sceptic industry action – the think tanks gathered together a group of hand-picked “independent” scientists who were “not usually published in the mainstream journals”.

Exclusive: Major Climate Denial Funders Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund Handled $479 Million Of Dark Money

More than $470 million of cash flowing into a key funding arm of the climate science denial movement in the United States is untraceable, a DeSmog investigation has found.

Sister organisations Donors Trust (DT) and Donors Capital Fund (DCF) declared an income of $511 million between 2005 and 2012, tax records show.

But a DeSmog analysis of the sources of DT and DCF income finds that some $479 million of the income is “dark money” coming from individuals or groups who do not have to declare their donations.

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.


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