For years “scientist” Wei-Hock Soon has attempted to convince the public that the earth’s warming climate is caused by variations in the sun’s energy instead of carbon emissions. Now new documents prove that Soon was paid by fossil fuel companies to lie about climate change. Over the last 14 years, Soon accepted $1.2 million from energy companies in exchange for his “scientific proof” that claims dirty energy is not the primary cause of global warming.
Soon, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (but not technically employed by Harvard), has appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitols and spoken at conferences on the platform of naturally-caused climate change. He’s also been suspected of less-than-altruistic intentions since 2011, when it came to light that he accepted some funding from oil and gas companies. Soon defended himself by explaining that he would have accepted money from any organization that was offering.
The new documents consist of eleven papers published since 2008, and they reveal that Soon has actually accepted over a million dollars from fossil fuel companies. Documents obtained by Greenpeace and published by the New York Times through the Freedom of Information Act show that Soon agreed to produce “deliverables” in exchange for the money—largely, his deliverables were scientific papers. He also used this term in correspondence to describe testimony he prepared for Congress.
This strategy has been used since the war against Big Tobacco by companies who need scientific proof to keep their profits in line. It helps lobbyists block legislation that hurts their interests by creating significant doubt. Fossil fuel companies have been employing this strategy for years but it’s been difficult to prove.
According to the New York Times, “Environmentalists have long questioned Dr. Soon’s work, and his acceptance of funding from the fossil fuel industry was previously known. But the full extent of the links was not; the documents show that corporate contributions were tied to specific papers and were not disclosed, as required by modern standards of publishing.”
Further, Soon is not a climatologist or an astrophysicist, although he is employed part-time by the Smithsonian. Soon is an aerospace engineer, but obviously uses his association with Harvard and the Smithsonian to obfuscate his credentials. While most scientists and the Smithsonian distance themselves from Soon, Washington appears to like him quite a bit.
In a Senate debate last month, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) pointed to a poster with photos of scientists questioning the climate change consensus, including Dr. Soon. “These are scientists that cannot be challenged,” the senator said.
Oh yes, they can. The documents that Greenpeace obtained can prove it.