Debunking the Left's Attack
on an Innocent Climate Scientist
“The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas.
For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.’’
— Freeman Dyson, Boston Globe, November 5, 2013
“The Heartland Institute stands four-square behind Willie Soon. He’s a brilliant and courageous scientist devoted entirely to pursuing scientific knowledge. His critics are all ethically challenged and mental midgets by comparison. We plan to continue to work with Willie on future editions of Climate Change Reconsidered and feature him at future International Conferences on Climate Change, including the next one, the tenth, scheduled to take place in June in Washington, DC.”
— Joseph L. Bast, president, The Heartland Institute
March 2, 2015: Statement by Dr. Willie Soon.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Key facts about the controversy
3. Articles defending Dr. Soon
4. Articles attacking Dr. Soon
5. Videos of Dr. Soon
6. Dr. Soon’s biography
[NOTE: This page was last updated on March 2, 2015.]
1. Key Facts about the Controversy
In late February, 2015, Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon was accused by a Greenpeace activist of failing to disclose conflicts of interest to an academic journal. The accusation was false, but it was repeated by liberal reporters for major media outlets in the U.S. and U.K. and then became the basis for a coordinated campaign against global warming “skeptics” by liberal advocacy groups, Democratic U.S. senators and a congressman, and their allies in the mainstream media.
This page presents background information and facts about the controversy as well as links to some of the attacks on Dr. Soon as well as articles defending him. Dr. Soon's biography and a partial list of articles he has written for peer-reviewed journals is at the bottom of this page.
* Neither the editors of Science Bulletin nor the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Soon’s employer, have said Dr. Soon violated their disclosure or conflict of interest rules.
* Kert Davies, the source of the accusations, has been making similar attacks against Dr. Soon and other climate scientists since as long ago as 1997. He is not a credible source.
* Grants supporting Dr. Soon’s work were vetted and submitted by the Smithsonian, not by Dr. Soon. Grant dollars went to the Smithsonian, which kept around 40 percent of the money for oversight and overhead.
* The amount of industry support Dr. Soon received, variously reported as $1 million or $1.2 million, includes the Smithsonian Institution’s 40 percent share and was received over the course of ten years.
* By agreement between donors and the Smithsonian, Dr. Soon wasn’t even aware of who some of the donors were, making a conflict of interest impossible.
* Disclosure of funding sources is not a common requirement of academic journals in the physical sciences field. Most climate scientists – alarmist as well as skeptical – do not disclose their funding sources.
* Before this phony controversy erupted, “Why Models Run Hot” was downloaded from Science Bulletin some 10,000 times in just a few weeks — a very high number for a scientific paper. As of February 26, the paper has been downloaded more than 22,000 times (combined paper downloads and abstract readings), more than any other paper in the publication’s history.
* The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics expressly forbids Soon to research and write about climate change while “on the clock” because it is allegedly unrelated to the center's focus. So it necessarily follows that the grants Soon raises to fund his position at Harvard-Smithsonian — which are agreements between the Harvard-Smithsonian Institution and donors, not between donors and Dr. Soon — did not pay for “Why Models Run Hot."
* Soon stated to the Boston Globe in 2013: “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.”
* The leftist Guardian newspaper reported on February 21, 2015 that Soon's arrangement with Harvard-Smithsonian is one in which he raises his own salary. This is not unusual and doesn’t mean he’s in a junior or inferior position at the center: “As is common among Harvard-Smithsonian scientists, Soon is not on a salary. He receives his compensation from outside grant money, said Christine Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Center for Astrophysics.”
* Harvard-Smithsonian is publicly defending Soon: “Pulliam cast Soon’s association with the institutions as an issue of academic freedom: 'Academic freedom is critically important. The Smithsonian stands by the process by which the research results of all of its scholars are peer reviewed and vetted by other scientists. This is the way that the scientific process works. The funding entities, regardless of their affiliation, have no influence on the research.' ”
* Fifty-seven scientists sent a letter to the Harvard-Smithsonian on June 7, 2010 urging the center to reject the Greenpeace FOIA request in order to “protect Dr. Soon, to safeguard the integrity of the research process, and to reject this effort to bring undue and improper political influence to bear on scientific activities.” Read the letter here.
* Climate scientists who favor the alarmist perspective seldom disclose the funding they receive from left-wing advocacy groups or government agencies whose RFPs clearly call for alarmist findings. For example, Michael Oppenheimer (See Why Doesn’t Boston Globe do funding story on UN IPCC & EDF Warmist Michael Oppenheimer?) and (Oppenheimer, a paid partisan of the environmental pressure group Environmental Defense) and Kerry Emanuel: (National Academy of Sciences to investigate warmist Kerry Emanuel for failing to disclose insurance industry ties in recent study and Winning! JunkScience forces Emanuel to disclose insurance employers.)
* None of the attack pieces dispute the science Soon presents. This is because the journalists simply took a news release from Greenpeace, a radical environmental group with no expertise on climate science and a record of exaggeration and attacks on climate scientists, and reported it as news. The "science reporters" assigned to these hit pieces — even from America's most prestigious outlets —don't know enough about science to comment on the merits of Dr. Soon’s work.
* That the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics accepts outside funding to support the work of Dr. Soon and other scientists on its staff is old news. Kert Davies, the source of the latest smear, has been trying to demonize Dr. Soon and the Smithsonian Institution about this since 1997. This latest attempt to smear Dr. Soon and the Harvard-Smithsonian Institution is timed to distract attention some real news that exposes real corruption in the global warming movement: the resignations of the nation's "greenest" governor, John Kitzhaber of Oregon, and the chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Rajendra Pachauri.
* Click here to see the emails released by the Smithsonian Institution in response to Greenpeace’s FOIA requests.
* Click here for Smithsonian Institution’s “Statement of Values and Code of Ethics”
* Click here for Christopher Monckton’s letter to the editors of Science Bulletin
* Click here for Robert Carter’s letter to the director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
* Click here for Judith Curry’s commentary on conflicts of interest in the physical sciences
3. Articles Defending Dr. Soon
Bast, Joseph and Joseph A. Morris, The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon – Breitbart (Feb 24)
Bast, Joseph Left Launches Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientists - Heartland Institute (Mar 1)
Bastasch, Michael What Does A Conflict Of Interest In Climate Science Look Like? - Daily Caller (Feb 27)
Baum, Kristina & Harder, Donelle Senate EPW Republicans Take a Stand for Academic Freedom - EPW (Feb 27)
Bell, Larry New York Times Targeting of Climate Alarm Skeptic Misfires – NewsMax (Feb 26)
Bell, Larry Chilling Climate Change at New York Times - NewsMax (Mar 2)
Briggs, William M., Goon Squad Fails To Distract Public From Fact That Climate Models Stink: Update 3 — (Feb 22)
Briggs, William M., Response To Trenberth Over “Why Models Run Hot” — (Feb 21)
Briggs, William M., Reporting On So-Called Climate Reporters: Update 4 — (Feb 20)
Briggs, William M. Left Panics Over Peer-Reviewed Climate Paper's Threat to Global Warming Alarmism - Breitbart (Feb 23)
Briggs, William M.; Carter, Robert M.; and Legates, David R. The Silence of the Scientists - Breitbart (Feb 23)
Caruba, Alan Green Slander (Feb 28)
Cook, Russell “Regurgitate Unsupportable Accusations, We Much?” Kert Davies is Back. Again. – WUWT/GelbspanFiles (Feb 26)
Delingpole, James NYT Smears Scientist Willie Soon For Telling the Truth About 'Global Warming' - Breitbart (Feb 21)
Ebell, Myron, New York Times Repeats Scurrilous Greenpeace Attack on Willie Soon Without Checking the Facts — GlobalWarming.org (Feb 27)
Essex, Christopher Save Willie: The global warming movement is anti-science, oblivious to how little we know about climate – Financial Post (Feb 25)
Geman, Ben Democratic Congressman Draws Backlash Over Climate Funding Probe - National Journal (Feb 25)
Goddard, Steven Barack Obama Goes Full Stalin – Real Science (Feb 24)
Hayward, John Betrayed by Science, The Church of Global Warming Can Still Burn a Heretic or Two – Breitbart (Feb 24)
Hinderaker, John The Smearing of Willie Soon – PowerlineBlog (Feb 24)
Horner, Christopher, Dr. James Hansen’s growing financial scandal, now over a million dollars of outside income – Watts Up With That (Nov. 18, 2011)
Lowry, Rich A Shameful Climate Witch Hunt - Politico Magazine (Feb 25)
Monckton, Christopher Dr Willie Soon: A Scientist in the Humble Quest for Truth - Breitbart (Feb 28)
Monckton, Christopher; Carter, Bob Dr. Wei-Hock Soon's Peers Fire Back Against Global Warming Witch Hunt - Breitbart (Feb 23)
Monckton, Christopher "Naming and Shaming the Rent-a-Quote Scientists (Feb 22)
Payne, Henry Global Warming: Follow the Money - National Review (Feb 25)
Riehl, Dan Joe Sestak Pushing NYT's Smear on Willie Soon to Boost Struggling Campaign- Breitbart (Feb 23)
Rucker, Craig They Attack What They Fear - CFACT (Feb 22)
Seitter, Keith; Executive Director, American Meteorological Society AMS Letter to House Committee on Natural Resources on Challenges to Academic Freedom (Feb 27)
Shellenberger, Michael & Nordhaus, Ted Climate McCarthyism is Wrong Wheather Democratic or Republican - The Breakthrough (Feb 26)
Spencer, Roy The ‘Skeptical Seven’ Witch Hunt is Just the Beginning – DrRoySpencer.com (Feb 26)
Steyn, Mark The Warmish Inquisition -SteynOnline (Feb 28)
Tisdale, Bob Roger Pielke, Jr. Being Investigated by Representative Grijalva for Presenting Inconvenient Data – WUWT (Feb 25)
Veer, PG Global Warming Believers Launch Attack Campaign Against renowned Scientist - Daily Caller (Feb 22)
Watts, Anthony Smear campaign: “His judgment cometh and that right soon” – WUWT (Feb 23)
Watts, Anthony Anatomy of a Climate Witch-hunt Letter from U.S. Representative Raúl M. Grijalva — WUWT (Feb 26)
Watts, Anthony Faux Outrage Over Willie Soon’s Disclosure? Joe Romm Failed to Disclose his Political Financial Ties in a Scientific Paper - WUWT (Feb 27)
4. Articles Attacking Dr. Soon
Allman, William Climate Change Researcher Received Funds From Fossil Fuel Industry – Smithsonian.com (Feb 26)
Basken, Paul A Climate Crusader Melts, Exposing a Profitable Link to Harvard's Name - The Chronicle of Higher Education (Feb 25)
Davies, Kert Willie Soon Harvard Smithsonian Documents Reveal Southern Company Scandal - Climate Investigations Center (Feb 21)
Drum, Kevin Climate Change Deniers Take Yet Another Hit – MotherJones (Feb 22)
Frank, Adam My Depressing Day With A Famous Climate Skeptic – NPR Blog (Feb 24)
Gillis, Justin & Schwartz, John Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher – The New York Times (Feb 21)
Goldenberg, Suzanne Work of prominent climate change denier was funded by energy industry – The Guardian (Feb 21)
Harvey, Chelsea Leading skeptical climate scientist earned more than $1 million from the fossil-fuel industry - Business Insider (Feb 25)
Hasemyer, David Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research – Inside Climate News (Feb 21)
Hazard, Daniel Willie Soon Exposed: Who Paid For His Research And Why? Oil Giant Southern Company Plays Major Role In Scandal – Inquisitr (Feb 23)
Lane, Sylvan Climate change skeptic accused of violating disclosure rules – The Boston Globe (Jan 26)
Leber, Rebecca Democrats Target Climate-Deniers-for-Hire - New Republic (Feb 24)
McCoy, Terrence Things just got very hot for climate deniers’ favorite scientist – The Washington Post (Feb 23)
Michaelson, Jay Armageddon for Climate Change Deniers - The Daily Beast (Feb 23)
Ramos, Dante Academic freedom for sale – The Boston Globe Opinion (Feb 24)
Rowland, Christopher, Researcher helps sow climate-change doubt - The Boston Globe (Nov 2013)
Schwartz, John Lawmakers Seek Information on Funding for Climate Change Critics – The New York Times (Feb 25)
Vergano, Dan Greenpeace Probe Of Climate Naysayer Implicates Exxon Mobil - BuzzFeed (Feb 27)
Warrick, Joby House Dems: Did Big Oil seek to sway scientists in climate debate? – The Washington Post (Feb 24)
5. Videos of Dr. Soon
Videos of scientific presentations at seven international conferences on climate change:
BONUS VID: Willie Soon accepting the "Courage in Defense of Science" award from the The George C. Marshall Institute in July 2014.
6. Dr. Soon’s biography
Dr. Soon’s complete dossier and curriculum vita is here.
Dr. Wei-Hock "Willie" Soon, an astrophysicist and geoscientist, is a leading authority on the relationship between solar phenomena and global climate. His discoveries challenge computer modelers and advocates who consistently underestimate solar influences on cloud formation, ocean currents, and wind that cause climate to change. He has faced and risen above unethical and often libelous attacks on his research and his character, becoming one of the world’s most respected and influential voices for climate realism.
Dr. Soon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science and his Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California.
Since 1992, Dr. Soon has been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory. He is also receiving editor in the area of solar and stellar physics for New Astronomy. He writes and lectures both professionally and publicly on important issues related to the sun, other stars, and the Earth, as well as general science topics in astronomy and physics.
Dr. Soon’s honors include a 1989 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Graduate Scholastic Award and a Rockwell Dennis Hunt Scholastic Award from the University of Southern California for Athe most representative Ph.D. research thesis” of 1991. In 2003, he was invited to testify to the U.S. Senate.
Also in 2003, Dr. Soon was recognized, with a monetary award, for Adetailed scholarship on biogeological and climatic change over the past 1,000 years” by the Smithsonian Institution. In 2004, Soon received the Petr Beckmann award of the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness for “courage and achievement in defense of scientific truth and freedom.” In 2014, Dr. Soon received the “Courage in Defense of Science Award,” with a monetary award, from the George C. Marshall Institute. The award was presented at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change held in Las Vegas.
Dr. Soon is the author of The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun-Earth Connection (World Scientific Publishing Company, 2004). He is the coauthor, with Sebastian Lüning, of Chapter 2: “Solar Forcing of Climate,” in Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science (The Heartland Institute, 2013), a comprehensive critique of the Working Group I contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. His research has appeared many times in peer-reviewed journals, including the following:
Soon, W.H. E.S. Posmentier, and S. L. Baliunas, 1996: Inference of solar irradiance variability from terrestrial temperature changes, 1880–1993: An astrophysical application of the sun‑climate connection, Astrophysical J. 472: 891–902.
Baliunas, S., P. Frick, D. Sokoloff, and W. Soon (alphabetical listing with W. Soon as lead author), 1997: Timescales and trends in the Central England Temperature Data (1659‑1990): A Wavelet Analysis, Geophysical Research Letters 24: 1351–1354.
Soon, W.H. S.L. Baliunas, A.B. Robinson, and Z.W. Robinson, 1999: Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide, Climate Research 13: 149–164.
Posmentier, E.S., W.H. Soon, and S.L. Baliunas (equal contribution by Posmentier and Soon), 2000: Natural variability in an-ocean-atmosphere climate model, Journal of Physics Malaysia 19: 157.
Soon, W.H. S.L. Baliunas, E.S. Posmentier, and P.N. Okeke, 2000: Variations of solar coronal hole area and terrestrial lower tropospheric air temperature from 1979 to Mid‑1998, New Astronomy 4: 563–579.
Soon, W.H., E.S. Posmentier, and S.L. Baliunas, 2000: Climate hypersensitivity to solar forcing? Annales Geophysicae, 18: 583–588.
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, K.S. Demirchan, S.B. Idso, K. Ya. Kondratyev, and E.S.
Posmentier, 2001: The impact of anthropogenic CO2 emission on climate: Unresolved problems (in Russian), Proceedings of the Russian Geographical Society 133 (1).
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, S.B. Idso, K. Ya. Kondratyev, and E.S. Posmentier, 2001: Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions: Unknowns and un‑ certainties, Climate Research 18: 259–275.
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, S.B. Idso, K. Ya. Kondratyev, and E.S. Posmentier, 2002: Reply to comments on “Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions: unknowns and uncertainties” by James Risbey, Climate Research 22: 187–188.
Soon, W. and S. Baliunas, Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the last 1000 Years, 2003: Climate Research 23: 89–110.
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, S.B. Idso, K. Ya. Kondratyev, and E.S. Posmentier, 2003: Reply to comments on “Modeling climatic effects of anthropogenic CO2 emissions: unknowns and uncertainties” by D.J. Karoly, J.F.B. Mitchell, M. Allen, G. Hegerl, J. Marengo, and F. Zwiers, Climate Research 24: 93–94.
Soon, W. and S. Baliunas, Annual progress report on global warming: 2001–2002, 2003: Progress in Physical Geography 27: 448–455.
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, C. Idso, S. Idso, and D.R. Legates, 2003: Reconstructing climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 Years: a reappraisal, Energy & Environment 14: 233–296.
Soon, W., S. Baliunas, and D.R. Legates, 2003: Comment on “On past temperature and anomalous late‑20th Century warmth” by Mann et al., Eos 84 (44): 473.
Soon, W., D.R. Legates, and S. Baliunas, 2004: Estimation and representation of long‑term (> 40 years) trends of northern-hemisphere-gridded surface temperature: a note of caution, Geophysical Research Letters 31: doi:10.1029/2003GL019141.
Soon, W., 2005: Variable solar irradiance as a plausible agent for multidecadal variations in the Arctic-wide surface air temperature record of the past 130 years, Geophysical Research Letters 32: doi.10.1029/2005GL023429.
Dyck, M., W. Soon (as co-first authors), et al., 2007: Polar Bears of Western Hudson Bay and climate change: warming spring air temperatures as the “ultimate” survival control factor? Ecological Complexit, 4: 73–84.
Soon, W., 2007: Implications of the secondary role of carbon dioxide and methane forcing in climate change: Past, present, and future, Physical Geography 28: 97–125.
Armstrong, J.S., K.C. Green, and W. Soon, 2008: Polar bear population forecasts: A public-policy forecasting audit, Interfaces 38: 382–405 [plus 3 comments and authors’ reply].
Dyck, M., W. Soon, et al., 2008: Reply to response to Dyck et al. (2007) on polar bears and climate change in western Hudson Bay by Stirling et al. (2008), Ecological Complexity 5: 289–302.
Liu, J., B. Wang, Q. Ding, X. Kuang, W. Soon, and E. Zorita, 2009: Centennial variations of global monsoon precipitation in the last millennium: Results from ECHO‑G model, Journal of Climate 22: 2356–2370.
Soon, W., 2009: Solar Arctic-mediated climate variation on multidecadal to centennial timescales: Empirical evidence, mechanistic explanation, and testable consequences, Physical Geography 30: 144–184.
Green, K.C., J.S. Armstrong, and W. Soon, 2009: Validity of climate change forecasting for public policy decision making, International Journal of Forecasting 25: 826–832.
Soon, W., 2009: Comments on HESS Opinion “A random walk on water” by D. Koutsoyiannis, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions 6: C2852–C2856.
Soon, W. and D.R. Legates, 2010: Avoiding carbon myopia: Three considerations for policy makers concerning manmade carbon dioxide, Ecology Law Currents 37: 1–9.
Armstrong, J.S., K.C. Green, and W. Soon, 2011: Research on forecasting for the manmade global warming alarm, Energy & Environment 22: 1091–1104.
Agnihotri, R., K. Dutta, and W. Soon, 2011. Temporal derivative of total solar irradiance and anomalous Indian summer monsoon: an empirical evidence for a Sun-climate connection, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 73: 1980–1987.
Soon, W., K. Dutta, D.R. Legates, V. Velasco, and W. Zhang, 2011: Variation in surface air temperature of China during the 20th century, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 73: 2331–2344.
Legates, D.R. and W. Soon, 2011: Chapter 4: Sea level changes in Bangladesh: observational constraints on human, geologic and weather-climate variability related factors, in Climate Change‑ Issues and Perspectives for Bangladesh, Rafique Ahmed, and S. Dara Shamsuddin (Eds). Dhakar, Bangladesh.
Legates, D.R., W. Soon, and W.M. Briggs, 2013: Learning and teaching climate science: The perils of consensus knowledge using agnotology, Science and Education 22: 2007–2017.
Legates, D.R., W. Soon, W.M. Briggs, and C. Monckton of Brenchley, 2013: Climate consensus and ‘misinformation’: A rejoinder to ‘Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change,’ Science and Education (August).
Soon, W. and D.R. Legates, 2013: Solar irradiance modulation of equator-to-pole (Arctic) temperature gradients: empirical evidence for climate variation on multi-decadal timescales, Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics 93: 45–56.
Legates, D.R., W. Soon, W.M. Briggs, and C. Monckton of Brenchley, 2015: Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model, Science Bulletin, Vol. 60 Issue (1): 122-135; DOI: 10.1007/s11434-014-0699-2.