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Sunday, July 03, 2011

Their tentacles are everywhere
Posted by Jill | 8:12 AM
Guess who bought and paid for the opinions of the nation's top climate change-denying scientist:

Dr. Willie Soon is certainly entitled to his theory that global warming is caused by solar variations rather than CO2, especially given his field of study within astrophysics—Solar, Stellar and Planetary Sciences. But getting paid to $1 million by the Koch Brothers, Exxon and a fleet of other energy industry giants makes Soone a stooge.

Now, it is possible that Dr. Soon developed the theory that solar variations cause climate change before the $1 million in grants began to arrive in his bank account, but it’s just as likely that he was approached by the energy industry and developed the theory for the express purpose of earning his keep.

Soon himself states in a Reuters interview:

I have never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research. I would have accepted money from Greenpeace if they had offered it to do my research

Question: if Greenpeace had funded his studies, would his research have aligned with their point of view?

If we are to get unvarnished scientific opinion, there cannot be the appearance of corporate influence. Soon may be sincere in his theory, but his acceptance of oil and coal industry grants do much to discredit his studies, even if there is possible value in his ideas. And it seems that Soon has had his ideas peer-reviewed.

Greenpeace filed a Freedom of Information Act and obtained information revealing the Koch Brothers gave Soon $175,000 in 2005/2006 and once again in 2010. The American Petroleum institute gave Soon grants totalling $274,000 between 2001 and 2007, and Exxon Mobile provided Soon with $335,000 in grants between 2005 and 2010.

One can’t really fault Soon for wanting a payday or for holding such a theory on climate change—but we can certainly be skeptical of his sincerity now. Like every American, Soon seems to have a price.

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