Willie Soon


Willie Soon

Research and Background

Willie Soon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science from the University of Southern California.  In 1991, Soon received his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.  Currently, Dr. Soon is a physicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  Since 1992, Dr. Soon has been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory.  Willie Soon is also a receiving editor with the journal New Astronomy.

According to Google Scholar, Willie Soon has published two articles related to climate change in peer-reviewed journals.

Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas

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 preceeding four centuries.”

Willie Soon and The Fraser Institute

Willie Soon has written for the Fraser Institute and is listed on its website as an author. ExxonSecrets cites the Fraser Institute as a receipient of $120,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998.  And, according to Media Transparency, more than 75% of the $403,301 received by the Fraser Institute since 1985 has come from the Scaife Foundations ($275,000) and the Koch Foundations ($23,221).

Willie Soon and the George C. Marshall Institute

Willie Soon is a senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute.  The Marshall Institute has received $840,000 in funding from ExxonMobil since 1998.  Since 1985, the institute has also received $3,082,000 from the Scaife Foundations and $30,000 from the Koch Foundations 1985.

Willie Soon and The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute lists Willie Soon as a writer/contributor.  Heartland has received $676,500 from ExxonMobil since 1998, in addition to $335,000 from the Scaife Foundations and $77,578 from the Koch Foundations. 

Soon was also a speaker at the International Conference on Climate Change in 2008 and 2009, a conference organized annually by the Heartland Institute.  The sponsors of the conference are heavily funded by Exxon, Scaife, and Koch.

Willie Soon and Tech Central Station

Willie Soon is an author for Tech Central Station (TCS), a web-based journalism station.  Soon’s bio on the website states explicitly that “Dr. Willie Soon’s views expressed are not those of the Harvard-Smithosonian Center for Astrophysics.”  According to “Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air,” ExxonMobil gave TCS $95,000 in 2003.  And, until 2006, TCS’s information was published by the public relations firm DCI Group, a registered lobbying firm for ExxonMobil.

Willie Soon and the World Climate Report

Soon is listed as a “contributor” to the World Climate Report (WCR). The blog is run by the prominent climate change skeptic Patrick Michaels and is published by his company, New Hope Environmental Services

New Hope has been described as a PR company, and although secretive about its funding sources, it did receive support from an electrical generating company.

The Center for Science and Public Policy and the Science and Public Policy Institute

Wilie Soon is connected to the Center for Science and Public Policy, an affiliate of Frontiers of Freedom.  Although Willie Soon is not listed on the centre’s website, in the Wall Street Journal article “Eat More Fish,” which he co-authored with Robert Ferguson, Soon is listed as the centre’s “Chief Science Researcher.”

“Smoke, Mirrors, and Hot Air” reports that ExxonMobil has provided Frontiers of Freedom with $857,000 in funding since 1998.  And in 2003, ExxonMobil gave Frontiers of Freedom a grant worth $232,000 to launch a new branch of the organization called the Center for Science and Public Policy.  The mission of this new branch deals exclusively with the issue of climate change.  The Scaife Family Foundations have donated $135,000 to Frontiers of Freedom, and the Koch Family Foundations have donated $50,000.

The Science & Public Policy Institute (SPPI) lists Soon as Chief Science Adviser. The SPPI describes itself as a non-profit research and education organization which is committed to the advancement of sound, sensible energy and environmental public policies based on rational science and economics.  In its mission statement the SPPI asserts that it is “free from affilition to any corporation or political party.” 

The president of the Science & Public Policy Institute, Robert Ferguson, is also the executive director of the Center for Science and Public Policy.  The link between the two organizations runs even deeper: both the SPPI and the Center for Science and Public Policy are listed at the same address: 209 Pennsylvania Ave. SE Washington, D.D. 20003.