It looks like financial backers are abandoning Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon after documents were released that proved the prominent U.S. climate change denier accepted $1.2M from oil and gas companies in exchange for lying about the causes of climate change. Exxon Mobil and the American Petroleum Institute were among the sources of funding revealed by the documents, and now companies like that are questioning whether they should continue their relationship with Soon.
Soon, who worked at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, defended his record earlier this week via the Heartland Institute – a group that lobbies against climate change initiatives and one of his biggest supporters. “In recent weeks I have been the target of attacks in the press by various radical environmental and politically motivated groups,” he said in a statement released on Monday via the Heartland Institute website. “This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare to question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic climate change.”
According to the Guardian, the Heartland Institute is framing the debate as a partisan issue by blaming the American left for trying to discredit a scientist who questions accepted science.
Oddly enough, one of the companies that funded Soon to the tune of $409,000 was an electric utility called Southern Company. The figure comes from the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which is questioning why Southern Company would fund his research when it could use that money to help reduce costs to ratepayers.
Southern Company told the Guardian on Tuesday that it “funds a broad range of research on a matter of topics that have potentially significant implications for our business. While the scientific and political discussions on climate change continue, Southern Company is focused on researching, developing and deploying innovative energy technologies to deliver clean, safe, reliable and affordable electricity to customers.”
There’s no word yet whether the largest sources of Soon’s funds, companies like Exxon, will walk away. Until then, the whole world is watching.