A leading scientist with pronounced climate change skepticism, claiming global warming is caused by solar activity variations rather than by human-caused CO2 emissions, has been paid more than $1 million by ExxonMobile and other major energy companies.
In a Greenpeace US investigation, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal Dr. Willie Soon has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the energy industry, including ExxonMobile, Southern, the Koch Foundation, and API.
Soon, an astrophysicist at Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences Division, part of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is well-known in the scientific community for his views in denial of global warming being a human activity-related cause.
Unapologetic in admitting the funding, Soon denies the staggering amount of money has not influenced his scientific studies. Soon told Reuters: “I have never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research.”
In 2007 and 2008, Soon received more than $250,000 from Southern and ExxonMobile for climate change studies related to the sun. He also told Reuters: “I would have accepted money from Greenpeace if they had offered it to do my research.”
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece co-wrote in May, The Myth of Killer Mercury, Soon said there is “no factual basis” for EPA claims that rules requiring US power plants to reduce their “already low’ mercury emissions will save 17,000 lives and help generate up to $140 billion toward health benefits and noted
To build its case against mercury, the EPA systematically ignored evidence and clinical studies that contradict its regulatory agenda, which is to punish hydrocarbon use.
In the opinion, Soon also asserts US power plants account for less than 0.5% of all mercury in our air. Soon, and co-author Paul Driessen, claim the EPA rules are designed to
further advance the Obama administration’s oft-stated goal of penalizing hydrocarbon use and driving a transition to unreliable renewable energy.
According to the Greenpeace investigation, Soon has had no formal training as a climatologist. In 2007, Soon co-authored, along with climate-change deniers Sallie Baliunas, David Legates and Tim Ball, a non-peer reviewed article in the journal Ecological Complexity on polar bears and Arctic sea ice, claiming the bears were under no threat from global warming and a decline of Arctic sea ice was not as severe as claimed by peer-reviewed studies.
Soon acknowledge the article was in part sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute (API), ExxonMobile and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.
According to The Guardian, Soon is regarded as one of the “leading sceptical voices” in the climate change debate.
“A campaign of climate change denial has been waged for over 20 years by big oil and big coal,” said Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace US, The Guardian notes. “Scientists like Dr Soon, who take fossil fuel money and pretend to be independent scientists, are pawns.”
Responding to the new revelations on corporate-influenced views on global warming, ExxonMobile spokesman Alan Jeffers said: “I am not prepared to talk about the individual grant requirements, but if their positions are distracting to how we are going to meet the energy needs of the world, then we didn’t want to fund them,” the New York Times reports.