Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money

Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money
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Willie Soon, the notorious climate denier who has made a career out of attacking the IPCC and climate scientists, has received over $1 million in funding from Big Oil and coal industry sponsors over the past decade, according to a new report from Greenpeace.

The Greenpeace report, “Dr. Willie Soon: a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal,” reveals that $1.033 million of Dr. Soon’s funding since 2001 has come from oil and coal interests. Since 2002, every grant Dr. Soon received originated with fossil fuel interests, according to documents received from the Smithsonian Institution in response to Greenpeace FOIA requests.

The documents show that Willie Soon has received at least $175,000 from Koch family foundations (Soon is a key player in the Koch brothers’ climate denial machine, as Greenpeace documented previously), $230,000 from Southern Company, $274,000 from the American Petroleum Institute, and $335,000 from ExxonMobil, among other polluters.

Dr. Soon is perhaps most well-known for his work with fellow astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas attempting to challenge the “hockey stick” graph of temperature records, first published by Dr. Michael Mann.  



But the documents reveal that he also fancied himself a ringleader of a coordinated effort to sully the IPCC’s fourth assessment, plotting with Exxon staffers years in advance about how to attack the 2007 report.

A letter that Dr. Soon wrote in 2003, uncovered by Greenpeace, states:

Clearly they [the AR4 chapters] may be too much for any one of us to tackle them all … But, as A-team, we may for once give it our best shot to try to anticipate and counter some of the chapters, especially WG1—judging from our true expertise in the basic climate sciences …   

Even if we can tackle ONE single chapter down the road but forcefully and effectively … we will really accomplish A LOT!   

In all cases, I hope we can start discussing among ourselves to see what we can do to weaken the fourth assessment report or to re-direct   attention back to science …”

Soon has served on the roster of many oil- and coal-funded front groups over the past 15 years, from his role as “Scientific Adviser” at the coal-funded Greening Earth Society in the late 1990s, to his affiliations with a variety of Koch-Exxon-Scaife funded groups like the George C. Marshall Institute, the Science and Public Policy Institute, the Center for Science and Public Policy and the Heartland Institute.

Dr. Soon is among the speakers at the annual Denialapalooza climate denier meeting hosted by the Heartland Institute in Washington DC later this week. Since the theme of that Heartland junk science junket is “Restoring the Scientific Method,” perhaps the attendees will query Dr. Soon about the ethics of accepting a million dollars from polluter interests while claiming that climate change is nothing to worry about.

Denial For Hire: Willie Soon’s Career Fueled by Big Oil, Coal and Koch Money
Brendan is Executive Director of DeSmog. He is also a freelance writer and researcher specializing in media, politics, climate change and energy. His work has appeared in Vanity Fair, The Huffington Post, Grist, The Washington Times and other outlets.

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