2011-06-29 04:10:11Did ExxonMobil Break Its Promise To Stop Funding Climate Change Deniers? -- Mother Jones
John Hartz
John Hartz
| Tue Jun. 28, 2011 5:00 AM PDT

Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind's role in global warming. This—and much more—came to light in a new report about the funding of Wei Hock "Willie" Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Soon has been a favorite among climate skeptics for years, since coauthoring a paper back in 2003 that claimed that the 20th century was probably not the warmest, nor was it unique. That paper, published in the journal Climate Research, was widely criticized by climate scientists for its content, not to mention the funding it received from the American Petroleum Institute. An astrophysicist by training, Soon has also claimed that solar variability—i.e., changes in the amount of radiation coming from the sun—are to likely to blame for warming temperatures.

In 2007, Soon coauthored a paper challenging the claim that climate change harms polar bears. The paper drew plenty of criticism, as it was funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, The Charles G. Koch Foundation, and ExxonMobil—groups with a clear interest in the debate over whether the bears merited endangered species protections.

Given that Soon had previously disclosed some of his corporate funding, in December 2009 Greenpeace submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Smithsonian Institution asking for information about Soon's funders and any conflict of interest forms he may have submitted. In response, Smithsonian produced a list of his major bankrollers, which included more than $800,000 from major energy interests. According to the document, Exxon provided $55,000 for a study on Arctic climate change in 2007 and 2008, and another $76,106 for research into solar variability between 2008 and 2010.

ExxonMobil spokesman Alan Jeffers accused Greenpeace of "peddling this discredited conspiracy theory" about its support for climate deniers. He maintained that the company stopped funding Soon in 2009. "We made a decision to discontinue funding groups whose positions on climate change weren't very constructive. It was distracting," said Jeffers. "The issue of climate change is so important, it shouldn't be distracted by the type of things Greenpeace does," Jeffers said.

Even if Greenpeace and Smithsonian are wrong and ExxonMobil has stopped funding his work, Soon still appears to be getting significant backing from other fossil fuel companies, with the coal giant Southern Company providing $120,000 to look at "solar variability and climate change signals from temperature" in 2008 and 2009, and the Koch Foundation providing Soon another $65,000 last year.

"Dr. Soon needs to make clear what exactly these corporations expected from him," said Kert Davies, research director at Greenpeace. "There's been a long-term campaign of climate denial for over 20 years, organized by big coal and big oil. This is evidence that it continues to this day."

2011-06-29 05:45:49


and what in the bloody hell do polar bears have to do with astrophysics?

2011-06-29 07:03:20
Dana Nuccitelli

I noticed in an article I saw a few weeks back that Soon now calls himself a 'natural scientist' or something like that.  In that article he was claiming that the EPA is being too strict in regulating mercury emissions.

Basically he's an industry shill.

2011-06-29 08:38:40SOONGATE 2011

 Greenpeace strikes back!

dear Bob [likely Carter], Randy [likely Exxon guy], Walter [likely another exxon guy], Sallie [Ballunius] and Dave [Legates]:

   Attached are four files for your attention:

  (1) Prop-ChapWG1-AR4.pdf
  (2) Prop-ChapWG2-AR4.pdf
  (3) Prop-ChapWG3-AR4.pdf
  (4) Prop-SynRep-AR4.pdf

  They are the proposed chapter outline + strategy
  for upcoming IPCC fourth assessment reports that are
  to be discussed for the Nov 3-7 (COP-9) meeting
  in Vienna.

  Clearly they 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 ...


 "The pursuit of truth shall set you free, even if you
  never catch up to it." --- Clarence Darrow, American Attorney

This was written around the time Soon wrote papers with Baliunas and Legates about paleoclimate, the most
famous was in the von Storch qutting the editorial board of the journal it was published in.  I thnk we can all guess 
what chapter they decided was the weakest.  Ole # 6.  And who else has tirelessly gone after chapter 6 and 
paleoclimatology in general?  Who has tangental ties to Heartland?  Whose paper was the subject of a republican
congressional hearing ion 2006?  I'd be very surprized if all this was not connected in one way or another.