NYT: Doubtful climate researcher fails to disclose $1.2M in fossil-fuel biz contributions

“For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity,” the New York Times is reporting this morning.

“One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

“But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

“He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.

The rest of the article is here.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

7 thoughts on “NYT: Doubtful climate researcher fails to disclose $1.2M in fossil-fuel biz contributions”

  1. And this is an example of publicly financed science vs. privately financed science. Or at least a potential risk.

    From the article:
    “I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” Dr. Alcock said. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

    Dr. Soon is employed by the Smithsonian Institution, which jointly sponsors the astrophysics center with Harvard.

    “I am aware of the situation with Willie Soon, and I’m very concerned about it,” W. John Kress, interim under secretary for science at the Smithsonian in Washington, said on Friday. “We are checking into this ourselves.”

    This is also an example the the self correcting nature of our scientific methodology.

  2. No Surprise. Actually the solar constant is just that, constant. I don’t have my notes in front of me but there are many factors in in measuring global warming/ climate change and only one of the major factoring measurements is not accounted for, emissions from carbon. When all other factors are measured the temperature increase is only a fraction of what we are experiencing. So the conclusion is the emissions of carbon account for the remaining increases. Of course there are compounding factors and they are accounted for in the models. I think a 10% increase in the solar constant takes hundreds of millions of years and maybe even a billion years.

    So why are we seeing such a spike in the last century? The burning of fossil fuels and totally distorting the carbon cycle with our ever increasing global life of comfort and the pursuit of profit.

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