Climate Denial 101, Paid-Off Scientist Exposed

What’s behind climate change denial? 

Many people have long suspected that scientists who refute the evidence are paid off and now there’s proof.

Willie Soon, supposedly a prominent scientist at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has published "scholarly" research for years with funding from Exxon Mobil, American Petroleum Institute, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Donors Trust and the utility, Southern Company – over $800,000 since 2008, and over 1.2 million in the past 10 years.

While climate deniers point to the "Harvard" scientist to justify their views, it turns out Soon is an aerospace engineer employed part-time by the Smithsonian Center. Even there, he had to fund his research himself.

Soon published 11 studies in nine professional publications like Journal of Climate, and didn’t mention his compensation came from the fossil fuel industry – breaching conflict of interest protocols.

Soon’s big argument is that solar flares are causing the Earth to warm. He’s the go-to "scientist" for deniers like Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who now chairs the Senate Environment Committee. When Republicans need someone to testify against the science of climate change, he’s their man – he won a "courage" award from Heartland Institute for standing up to the vast number of scientists that disagree with him. His testimonies have been used to block action on climate change and incentives for renewable energy. 

The ridiculous idea that polar bears are not under stress also comes from him, paid for by the State of Alaska and others that don’t want it listed as endangered.

In his proposals to prospective funders, Soon promises annual "deliverables" on research published, public presentations, a book chapter, and testimonies to Congress.

The investigation by Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Centre has been reported widely in the news, from The Guardian to the New York Times. 

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) says he will further investigate the "denial-for-hire scheme perpetrated by the anti-climate action cabal." He wants fossil fuel companies and trade organizations to disclose their funding of climate science. "The American public deserve an honest debate that isn’t polluted by the best junk science fossil fuel interests can buy," he told the Boston Globe.

It all started in 1998, when fossil interests spent $2 million to develop a Global Climate Science Communications plan. The plan says the goal is to convince "a majority of the American public" that "significant uncertainties exist in climate science." Read about 12 other "scientists" the fossil industry pays off.

The fracking industry is also working to distort the science.

These fake scientific reports are playing with fire because failure to agree a global climate change deal this year could lead to a "death certificate" for the planet, says Prince Charles in a speech at the Royal Society in London.

Climate Change Discussion

Climate Denial 101

Curious about the psychology behind climate denial and how to communicate with climate deniers?

Take the online course, Climate Denial 101! 

This 7-week course requires 1-2 hours a week of your time. You can audit the course free of charge. The 12 instructors are impressive – the international team includes scientists, computer modelers, communications specialists and lecturers on the subject. They all contribute to the Skeptical Science website, where scientists refute the myths.

In the course description they say: You’ll learn both the science of climate change and the techniques used to distort the science.

"With every myth we debunk, you’ll learn the critical thinking needed to identify the fallacies associated with the myth. Finally, armed with all this knowledge, you’ll learn the psychology of misinformation. This will equip you to effectively respond to climate misinformation and debunk myths."

A well-functioning democracy depends on a well-informed public, they say.

Sign up here for Denial 101:

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