Willie Soon Exposed: Who Paid For His Research And Why? Oil Giant Southern Company Plays Major Role In Scandal

Daniel Hazard - Author

Feb. 23 2015, Updated 9:38 a.m. ET

Who are the energy companies that have paid for the research of climate change scientist Willie Soon? That is the question on the public’s mind after revelations that the scientist was paid over $1 million to speak out against climate change at conservative fundraisers.

When conservatives seek to refute science in support of man-made climate change, they point to scientists like Willie Soon. Soon has long been the conservative poster boy for the oil industry, but now the legitimacy of his research is under fire. In the interest of the common good, It is important to ask which companies are bankrolling Soon and why?

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While many are familiar with Koch Industries who gave Soon $230,000 and Exxon Mobile who paid $335,000 for research papers, the largest contributor to Soon’s research is Southern Company, an energy giant owning no less that ten power companies relying heavily on coal.

Over the years, Southern Company paid Soon over $400,000 for his research, which has the been used as a main talking point in conservative circles. The question remains whether they paid to influence the Harvard graduates research.

Soon’s colleague, Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University, criticized Soon’s role in the debate over climate change.

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“The whole doubt-mongering strategy relies on creating the impression of scientific debate. Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater.”

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Oreskes in the co author of ‘Merchants of Doom’ a book about similar advertising campaigns.

Adding to Soon’s disgrace, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center, Charles R. Alcock acknowledged that Dr. Soon had in fact violated the disclosure standards of several journals.

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“I think that’s inappropriate behavior…this frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.”

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According to the documents, Soon offered his reports, or “deliverables”, in return for large sum payments from the industry giants. Although Soon maintains that the funding did not influence his research, there is no question that his credentials were highly valuable to the conservative community as a leading climate expert.


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