Willie Soon


Willie Wei-Hock Soon


  • 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]


Willie Wei-Hock Soon is an aerospace engineer 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

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]

“Since 2004. have not received a single penny from the government. […] Since 2004, I'm unable and then…first unable then I decided to not take even the money anymore, because it's just very bad for me. My own personal viewpoint–to take money from government to do such work. So I've been trying to get funding from whoever, you know, foundation–anybody wants to give me money. Coal, anything–I don't care. Really, I don't. I don't, because I know that I'm not being influenced by money.” [36]

“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

December 7, 2015

Willie Soon appeared at the United Nation’s Conference on Climate Change, COP21, in Paris, France with the Heartland Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), and the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) to “hold a ‘counter-conference’ … called the Day of Examining the Data.” [49] Other notable climate science deniers that were in attendance at the “counter-conference,” included: Robert CarterS. Fred Singer, Christopher Essex, James Taylor, Patrick MooreWolfgang Müller, James Inhofe, and Christopher Monckton. [50]

Watch Willie Soon's “counter-conference” presentation with the Heartland Institute, below (Willie Soon's presentation begins at 2:01:35):

June 11-12, 2015

Willie Soon was a speaker on Panel 1: “Climate Science,” at the Heartland Institute’s Tenth International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC10) in Washington, D.C., with Patrick Michaels and David Legates. [47]

View Willie Soon’s Panel 1 presentation at the Heartland Institute’s ICCC10, below: [48]

June, 2015

Willie Soon weighted in on Pope Francis's encyclical on the environment in an article at Breitbart titled “Gas of Life: Pope Encyclical on Climate Change Ignores Science on Carbon Dioxide.”

According to Soon, “Any attempt to stop the use of available fossil fuels for life and all human activities will cause far more harm and lead to more deaths than the theological belief in future catastrophic disasters endorsed by the encyclical.”

”[…] The world’s weather and climate will not be adversely affected by the prudent and appropriate use of fossil fuels to enhancing everyone’s lives. The release of the carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere is a necessary result of life on Earth – carbon dioxide is a gas of life. Additional carbon dioxide in the air will enhance all forms of biological activity and life overall. The relative greening of the Earth for the past several decades is one positive example.” [46]

March, 2015

Willie Soon is one of several climate change skeptics cc'd on an email from S. Fred Singer in hopes of countering the documentary film “Merchants of Doubt,” which exposes the network of climate change skeptics and deniers trying to delay legislative action on climate change.  

The October, 2014 email was leaked to journalists before the documentary was released. “Can I sue for damages?” Singer asked in the email. “Can we get an injunction against the documentary?”

InsideClimate News reports in their article “Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists,” how “Many of those copied on the email thread, such as Singer and communications specialist Steven Milloy, have financial ties to the tobacco, chemical, and oil and gas industries and have worked to defend them since the 1990s.” [41]

InsideClimate News also documented all those who were cc'd on the email, including the following skeptics and groups:

DeSmogBlog covered the emails here: “Merchants of Doubt Film Debuts, Textbook Denial Attack Campaign Led By Fred Singer Ensues” and DeSmogBlog also archived a full copy of the Singer email thread (PDF).

March 2, 2015

Willie Soon released a statement via the Heartland Institute’s website following a complaint from the Climate Investigations Center that Soon “failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest in a newly released paper,” which he co-wrote with Christopher Monckton, David R. Legates, and William M. Briggs. [35] [38]

In his official statement, Soon wrote that he has “been the target of attacks in the press by various radical environmental and politically motivated groups” and that the “effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming.” [38]

Soon states that he has “never been motivated by financial gain to write any scientific paper, nor [has he] ever hidden grants or any other alleged conflict of interest.” A DeSmogBlog report, using data compiled by the Climate Investigations Center, found that Soon has “solicited more than $1.5 million since 2001 from fossil fuel companies and conservative foundations.” [39]

February, 2015

As reported at InsideClimate News, emails and related documents regarding Willie Soon's funding were obtained by Greenpeace through a Freedom of Information Act Request. Communications show that Soon had called a number of his research papers “delieverables” and had received funding in return from fossil fuel companies. [42]

InsideClimate News details “11 times Willie Soon failed to Disclose Fossil Fuel Funding”, with the primary contributor being Southern Company, which generates power for nine states (largely from coal). The studies in question are summarized below, as reported on at Inside Climate News: [43]

Topic Journal Date Additional Funders
Response to a critique of a 2007 paper co-authored by soon on polar bears and climate change Ecological Complexity1 July, 2008 Southern Company
Modeling changes in rainfal patterns from monsoons Journal of Climate1 Sept. 2008 Southern Company
Review of government reports on polar bear populations Interfaces1 Sept. - Oct. 2008 Southern Company
How changes in sun's intensity explain the Artic's changing climate Physical Geography1 March, 2009 Southern Company
Cycles of 20 active stars Astronomy & Astrophysics1 May, 2009 Southern Company
Validity of the United Nations' climate change studies International Journal of Forecasting1 Oct.-Dec 2009 Southern Company
How policymakers should consider potential climate change regulations Ecological Law Currents2 2010 Southern Company
Surface air temperatures in China during the 20th century Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics2,3,4 Aug. 2011 Southern Company
India's summer monsoons and solar activity Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 2,3,4 Aug. 2011 Southern Company
Air temperatures and Solar Activity Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics4 Feb. 2013 Southern Company
How India's summer monsoons are affected by the sun New Astronomy4,5 Feb. 2015 Southern Company
  1. Deliverable Listed in Soon's Jan 2009 report for Southern Company
  2. Deliverable Listed in Soon's May 2011 report for Southern Company
  3. Deliverable Listed in Soon's Jan 2012 report for Donors Trust, Inc.
  4. Deliverable Listed in Soon's Nov 2012 report for Southern Company
  5. Soon's 2012 report to Southern Compnay said study had been submitted to Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics

The documents were made public by Greenpeace on February 21. Greenpeace suggests that Soon “may have violated several scientific journals’ ethical guidelines by failing to disclose these conflicts of interest.” [44]

As of April, 2015, after supplying Soon with nearly $470,000 for research, Southern Company decided it will no longer fund Soon's work. [45]

In an interview with InsideClimate News, Stephen Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said a Southern Company executive told him the company did not want to be associated with Soon's research any longer:

“They claim they do not want to influence the [climate change] science,” Smith said. “What I was hearing is that they should not be seen as having a corporate policy on this kind of thing.” 

January 26, 2015

Willie Soon failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest in a newly released paper, according to a complaint from a climate watchdog group the Climate Investigations Center as reported by The Boston Globe in their January 26, 2015 article, “Climate change skeptic accused of violating disclosure rules.” [35] Soon, “who has relied on grants from fossil-fuel energy interests,” co-wrote the paper with Christopher Monckton, David R. Legates, and William M. Briggs. [35]

The end of the paper, under the “Conflict of interest” header, stated “The authors declare that they have no conflict.” [35] Kert Davies, the executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, disagreed, saying “Soon’s long track record of accepting energy-industry related grants indicates otherwise and might constitute a violation of Science Bulletin’s disclosure policy.” [35] Science Bulletin, the Chinese Journal that published the study, “imposes a strict conflict of interest policy on authors, obligating contributors to disclose any received funding, financial interests, honors, or speaking engagements that might affect their work.” [35]

December, 2014

Willie Soon is a contributor to the book Climate Change: The Facts published by the Institute of Public Affairs and featuring “22 essays on the science, politics and economics of the climate change debate.” The Institute of Public Affairs, while not revealing most of its funders, is known to have received funding from mining magnate Gina Rinehart and at least one major tobacco company.  [40]

The book includes essays and articles from a range of climate change skeptics, with contributors including the following:

November 5, 2014

The Heartland Institute's “environmental science and policy experts” published comments following the release of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) “Synthesis Report,” completing the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). [34]

Willie Soon asked in his comment if the “United Nations IPCC people [were] really serious about alarming the world, yet again, that we will all die if we do not stop emitting CO2 immediately,” and wrote the IPCC is “not entitled to their own facts, no matter how many times they continue to cry wolf about our common future … Our wonderful planet is not IPCC's private casino parlor.” [34]

September 18, 2014

Willie Soon and Christopher Monckton co-author an opinion piece in The Washington Times titled, “Boycotting the U.N. climate summit; Awareness grows that faulty science would keep millions in the dark.” 

Soon and Monckton state Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister, “is right to have no more to do with such murderous nonsense. It is time to put an end to climate summits,” also noting the President of China and the Chancellor of Germany “likewise intend to skip the event”: [33]

“The spiritual yet down-to-earth Mr. Modi knows that 300 million Indians still have no electricity. His priority is to turn on the lights all over India. In Bihar, four homes in five are still lit by kerosene … The world’s governing elites, however, no longer care about poverty. Climate change is their new focus.” [33]

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.”



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.


  • 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


  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. Archived September 13, 2011.

  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. Archived October 12, 2012. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmogBlog.

  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.

  33. Willie Soon and Christopher Monckton. “Boycotting the U.N. climate summit; Awareness grows that faulty science would keep millions in the dark,” The Washington Times, September 18, 2014. Archived September 23, 2014.

  34. Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Latest United Nations Climate Report,” Heartland Institute, November 5, 2014.

  35. Climate change skeptic accused of violating disclosure rules,” The Boston Globe, January 26, 2015.

  36. Interview with Simon Schuster, State News, Michigan State University, April 7, 2013.

  37. Willie Soon, PolluterWatch profile, February 2015.

  38. Willie Soon. “Statement by Dr. Willie Soon,” Heartland Institute, March 2, 2015.

  39. Was Climate Science Denialist Willie Soon Funded To Do Science Or Was It Just PR Cash From The Fossil Fuel Industry?,” DeSmogBlog, March 1, 2015.

  40. Institute of Public Affairs,” SourceWatch. Accessed May 27, 2015.

  41. Katherine Bagley. “Leaked Email Reveals Who's Who List of Climate Denialists,” InsideClimate News. March 12, 2015.

  42. David Hasemyer. “Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research,” InsideClimate News, February 21, 2015.

  43. Lisa Song. “A Guide To Willie Soon's Climate Research Funded by Fossil Fuel Companies,” InsideClimate News, February 23, 2015.

  44. New documents reveal Koch, Exxon, Southern Company influence behind climate change denier scientist Dr. Willie Soon called his research and congressional testimony 'deliverables' to corporate funders, may have violated IRS rules and scientific journals’ ethical guidelines,” Greenpeace (Media Release), February 23, 2015.

  45. David Hasemyer. “Utility Giant Cuts Ties With Willie Soon,” InsideClimate News, April 7, 2015.

  46. Dr. Wei-Hock Soon. “Gas of Life: Pope Encyclical on Climate Change Ignores Science on Carbon Dioxide.” Breitbart. June 19, 2015. Archived July 3, 2015.

  47. Speakers,” Heartland Institute. Archived June 30, 2015.

  48. Panel 1: Climate Science with Willie Soon, Ph.D., David Legates, Ph.D., and Patrick Michaels, Ph.D.,” Heartland Institute, June 11, 2015. Archived July 16, 2015.

  49. PARIS COP-21: Day of Examining the Data with The Heartland Institute, CFACT, and CEI,” Heartland Institute, December 7, 2015.

  50. Bringing Climate Realism to Paris at COP-21,” Heartland Institute, December 7, 2015.