MEDIA ADVISORY: Defense of Dr. Willie Soon

Published March 4, 2015

Dr. Soon’s arrangement with Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics protects him from conflict of interest claims. But Michael Mann, Joseph Romm, and countless other alarmists in the global warming debate have some explaining to do.

CHICAGO (March 4) — James M. Taylor, senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, today released an analysis of Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon’s funding arrangement with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, showing how it insulates him from conflict of interest claims.

Last month, the Boston Globe, New York Times, and Washington Post ran stories repeating accusations made by long-time Greenpeace staffer Kert Davies that Dr. Soon failed to disclose funding from “fossil-fuel sources” to the editors of a science journal.

“The standard for disclosure proposed by Greenpeace, and which the media has widely condemned Dr. Soon for ‘violating,’ in fact is a new and unprecedented standard that few if any scientists, journal editors, or university administrators have ever applied,” Taylor wrote in a Heartland Institute Policy Brief titled “In Defense of Dr. Willie Soon from Politically Motivated Attacks.”

“There is no logical justification for arguing Dr. Soon should have been aware that such a new standard would be invented and applied to him alone. Without such logical justification, it is preposterous to claim Dr. Soon violated ethical guidelines,” Taylor wrote.

Taylor noted many prominent figures who believe in catastrophic, human-caused global warming could have real conflict-of-interest problems of their own.

“Many prominent scientists on the alarmist side of the global warming debate benefit from grants from foundations and corporations that support carbon dioxide restrictions,” Taylor wrote. “None of these scientists appears to disclose such funding as conflicts of interest. For example, Dr. Joseph Romm is a paid staffer for the Center for American Progress, an organization funded by renewable power companies and renewable power lobbying groups that has been outspoken in its advocacy for emissions reductions and public investment in renewable energy …”

“Another example: Dr. Michael Mann reportedly charges up to $10,000 to deliver talks on global warming. Dr. Mann does not publicly disclose who has paid him such princely sums for his talks, but it appears highly likely – indeed, almost certain – that corporations that support carbon dioxide restrictions are among his direct or indirect funders. In the dozens of papers Dr. Mann has published in the peer-reviewed literature, there are no disclosures of potential conflicts of interest. Moreover, Dr. Mann receives his money directly from the funding companies and has even retained an agent to help him secure such funding.

“Any attempt to require Dr. Soon to declare Smithsonian funding as a conflict of interest must hold Dr. Romm, … Dr. Mann, Greenpeace itself, and others accountable for their acceptance of ‘tainted’ funds and their failure to report such funding as conflicts of interest,” Taylor wrote.

Read the full report at this link. To interview James M. Taylor, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

The Heartland Institute is a 31-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.