By Brendan Montague
26 February 2015

(Desmog UK) – Willie Soon is at the centre of a perfect climate science denial storm, writes Brendan Montague with additional reporting from Kyla Mandel.

The aerospace engineer working at the the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was caught out when telling his fossil fuel industry funders that his research papers and U.S. Senate evidence were “deliverables”.

The controversy made the front page of the New York Times and now his employer has launched an investigation into the ethics of his secret funding. There is even a petition asking for his dismissal.

And his day is about to get even worse.

I first met Soon in Chicago in May 2012, at the Seventh International Climate Change Conference of the Heartland Institute. We spoke immediately after he gave his presentation claiming carbon dioxide was not driving recent climate change.

At the time, he was in the middle of a huge fight with his employers because they wanted to release emails and funding information to Greenpeace US. He lost the fight — hence the controversy breaking over the last week.

So I genuinely could not believe what he told me.

During a one-hour, nine minute interview he managed to attack his former sponsors at ExxonMobil, disparage his hosts at Heartland, and reveal that his employers were already seriously angry about his oil and coal sponsorships.

Soon knew I was a reporter, and he knew that I was taping the conversation. I have held back from publishing his remarks so far because I have a book in the pipeline.

But in light of recent revelations, this stuff is too good not to share. We began with me letting the hyperactive researcher explain why his latest paper was so important, and shortly after, I turned our conversation to his funding.

All the trouble started, Soon explained, when scientific journals rejected his submissions because their peer reviewers were concerned that he had failed to make reference to the famous 'hockey stick' paper authored by Professor Michael Mann.

Soon — independently of the fact he was being funded by ExxonMobil — decided in the end to attack Mann, and found himself in a whole world of pain.

“I am public enemy number one,” he told me. “I have been called a mass murderer. It’s just too many things that give me headaches. I am just a scientist who wants to learn.” [more]

Willie Soon Attacks Funders of Climate Denial for 'Lack of Courage'



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