Climate Change Denier Paid $1.2 M For Research By ExxonMobil, Koch Foundation, DonorsTrust

Several companies tied to the fossil fuel industry paid millions for climate change research from Wei-Hock Soon, a leading climate change denier, according to the New York Times.

Though Soon made it clear he received money from various companies years ago, the new documents show that Soon hid exactly how much he received, and which companies gave him the money — he did not disclose the information as required on his published papers.

According to the New York Times, new documents uncovered by Greenpeace show that Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation paid Soon $230,000, and Southern Company Services paid Soon $409,000.

Reuters found in 2011 that Soon received money from Exxon Mobile, and Southern Company, while Greenpeace found that both companies, as well as the American Petroleum Institute, Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, Free to Choose, and Texaco Foundation, paid Soon to research various climate change papers directly to the tune of $1.3 million in 2013.

Each of the companies invests in various fossil fuel endeavors heavily.

The money paid by these companies to Soon coincided with specific research papers, specific dates for Congressional appearances, specific news channel appearances, and other “deliverables,” according to the FOIA papers.

Soon stated in an interview with State News on April 7, 2013, that he would “take money from ‘anybody’.”

“Coal, anything – I don’t care. Really I don’t. I don’t because I know that I’m not being influenced by money.”

Except the documents uncovered by Greenpeace and Soon’s actions appear otherwise.

Soon did not disclose that he received the money, let alone from where it came. This is true of at least 11 papers since 2008, according to the New York Times, and in eight of the published papers, he violated the journals’ rules by not disclosing the funding, or that the corporate contributions were “tied to specific papers.”

While accepting money for research is not unethical, accepting money without disclosing from where it came upon publishing that research is – especially when the research is directly connected to and will have an effect on the companies providing the funding.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center director Charles R. Alcock confirmed that Soon violated disclosure standards, according to the New York Times.

Soon, better known as “Willie,” has championed much of the climate change denial “evidence” that politicians including Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK), who calls climate change a hoax, use to “prove” that climate change is not real, despite that Soon has little professional or personal connection to climate science. Other than the paid-for research, that is.

Soon holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering, and is employed by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics part-time – not Harvard as he often claims – and does not have climatological training.

Despite these facts, Soon has testified before Congress, and various politicians cite his work as the “doubt” needed to break scientific consensus on climate change. He is largely the reason Congress stopped legislation that would protect the environment in the future.

According to a statement made by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, they agree with the consensus that climate change is real.

According to NASA, 97 percent of scientists worldwide agree that climate change is real, climate change is here now, and climate change is caused by humankind.

The FOIA documents also that Exxon Mobile and the American Petroleum Institute stopped paying for research directly.

Shortly after Soon stopped receiving money from those energy companies, Soon started receiving money from anonymous donors via DonorsTrust, a 501(c) 3 organization.

According to Greenpeace, Soon has received “hundreds of thousands of dollars through DonorsTrust,” to date. The money given is untraceable, and tax-deductible.

According to DonorsTrust, it is “liberty-minded,” while its history notes that it is as follows.

“Sole donor-advised plan dedicated to promoting a free society and serving donors who share that purpose.”

Anyone can open and fund an account, and DonorsTrust dishes out the funds via grants to various people and organizations, some of which the donors dictate specifically, that share the views of DonorsTrust.

Although DonorsTrust has awarded grants to such organizations as the American Red Cross and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the bulk of grant recipients tend to be extremely conservative, such as the Heritage Foundation, NRA Freedom Action Foundation, and Right to Life, the same conservative groups that tend to deny climate change.

[Photo Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images Staff]