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Willie Soon


Willie Soon And Friends In The Early Days Before Climate Science Denial

Wed, 10 Jun 2015 13:33:49 +0000

Willie Soon is gathering with his Heartland Institute friends this week in Washington, DC for their latest Denial-a-Palooza stunt designed to mimic a science conference. As anyone who followed the story of Willie Soon's failures to disclose conflicts of interest knows, nobody came to his defense more rabidly than the Heartland Institute. Heartland President  Joe Bast, Communications Director Jim Lakely and others used familiar tobacco industry tactics of intimidation of journalists and misdirection to try to limit the fallout. They even bought AdWords, “In Defense of Willie Soon - The Merchants of Smear Attack Heroic Scientist.” So it's no wonder that Soon is now feted as a hero among the denialist crowd. But people might wonder: where did Soon come from before climate anti-science? What are his credentials? And who were some of his early allies? A brief history follows: Willie Soon has talked on mercury, polar bears, ocean acidification, the View From Galileo's Window and other topics. However, he has mostly pushed “Warming: Not CO2, It's The Sun!” akin to saying “Cancer: not cigarettes, just natural,” but funded via fossil fuel energy interests, not tobacco.  He has been wrong again and again. But how did Soon become a cog in the machinery of climate anti-science? An old video and older papers help reconstruct the history, back to his years with advisor Joseph Kunc at University of Southern California (USC) and Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). These also shed light on the long history of climate anti-science in the Wall Street Journal. Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) is run by Jane Orient of Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) and Art Robinson of Oregon Instute of Science and Medicine (OISM), well-interconnected.  DDP invited Willie Soon to speak every year 2000-2014. His talks seemed Gish Gallops, but obviously well-received by the non-expert audiences. In 2000, DDP Vice-President Art Robinson took 2 minutes to introduce Soon in The Sun Also Warms: The Sun-Climate Link, saying: 00:37 “A couple years ago, during the Kyoto meeting, George Gilder suggested to Max Boot at the Wall Street Journal that we could write an editorial that might be good on global warming, and I got this phone call from Max Boot asking for it and of course I said it would be on your desk tomorrow morning.  So we had to work all night, but that's an even greater motivation, because if  we made a mistake there it would be extremely embarrassing.  So I called Sallie Baliunas, and she made sure  we didn't make any mistakes.1 When we decided later to do that petition project of scientists on global warming, I asked Sallie again, and she said 'Well, if you're going to write a review article and send it to tens of thousands of scientists, you need to know my colleague Willie Soon. He'll keep you out of trouble.'  And so, for the month we were working on that, we had the advantage of Willie Soon, who kept us completely out of trouble, and made sure we knew where all the data was, and got it right, and when we made mistakes, he fixed them.*  And  of course, when that paper ultimately appeared in the scientific literature,2 Willie Soon was the principal author.  Three years now, he's been a voice on the  phone that I can depend on for being absolutely perfect in everything and telling us where all the literature was.  He also does a lot of original research on the Sun and the temperature of the planet. It's very fine to have him today as a to tell us about it.”02:05 Soon: “I'm very happy and very honored to be here.  I really first wanted to thank Fred Singer for giving such a fine and excellent introduction …” Wall Street Journal (WSJ) OpEds, Ideology Trumps Science The WSJ published the OpEd Science Has Spoken: Global Warming Is a Myth on December 4, 1997, saying “Arthur Robinson and Zachary Robinson are chemists at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine.”  Arthur is a biochemist, Zachary got his PhD in veterinary medicine.  Chemist Noah Rob[...]

Willie Soon A Heartland Institute Star Since 2003: Was He Paid? If So, When And With Whose Money?

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 21:01:46 +0000

Willie Soon has gained a global spotlight from many recent news articles (New York Times, Boston Globe, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc).  This was lit by documents obtained from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), whose former director had said of Soon that “no one pays any attention to him.”  An impassioned defense was published, not by the CfA, but by the Heartland Institute, for whom he seems vastly more important, a tireless star.  Heartland has even purchased Google AdWords, so the first hit for Willie Soon is this: Soon's frequent efforts for Heartland started no later than 2003.  They raise questions about potential unreported Conflict of Interest  even if unpaid. But did Heartland pay him? If so, how much, when, for what and with whose money? Heartland is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) “public charity” whose climate anti-science tactics were preceded by a long history of paid efforts for tobacco companies, as per Fakery 2: More Funny Finances, Free Of Tax. Readers unfamiliar wiith Soon might start with DeSmogBlog's profile. and follow by reading  story of a personal encounter. The history and other details motivate some questions, summarized next, then explained in detail. Q1: Was Soon paid as Lead Author for Heartland's NIPCC (2013)?Q2: Was Soon paid as Lead Author for Heartland's NIPCC (2011)?Q3: Did Heartland pay Soon expenses or speaking fees for conferences?Q4: How did Soon get connected with Donors Trust and funded by it?Q5: Did Heartland pay Soon for any articles in their newsletter?Q6: Did Heartland pay Soon as a Heartland “Expert”?Q7: Where has Hearland gotten the money for climate anti-science? Maybe these questions will start being asked by people who can demand answers. Q1: The 2012 Heartland Budget pp.7-8 detailed Heartland's spending plan for its 2013 Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) report. It allocated $467,000 for “(2) Payment to lead authors and contributors.” Subsection authors were to get $500-$1,000/month. It listed Willie Soon “contributor - paid by review - assume $1500/year.” ($125/month). This only proved intent to pay and Heartland needed to raise money, as seen in their 2012 Fundraising Plan. However, the final report showed Soon not as reviewer but as Lead Author of Chapter 3 - Solar Forcing,  which must have been demanding, since his co-Lead was a fossil company geologist, Sebastian Luning. The report was published and Soon played a major role.Was he paid and paid comparably with the other Lead Authors? Q2: Soon was also a Contributor to the NIPCC (2011) Report, pp.415-416. Fakery 2, pp.34-36, 43-67 analyzes the report and its financials, rather opaque since NIPCC is not broken out separately.  Was he paid anything for this work? Q3: Soon spoke at 6 Heartland International Climate Conferences (ICCC-n): n  year    City        Soon's talk, linked to video when available1 2008 New York “An Overview of Global Warming Science” Although he usually quit claimng CfA affiliation for such talks, sponsors often remained “confused.” As late as 2011, the Wall Street Journal curiously described him as “Mr. Soon, a natural scientist at Harvard, is an expert on mercury and public health issues.” In a report to the Southern Company, p.57(b), Soon claimed credit for this talk, although he gave a different title: “Global Warming 101: Al Gore's CO2 Theory.”''  One might ask who actually paid for this trip.  Heartland? Southern? Soon himself? 2 2009 New York “Disconnects in Sun-climate Studies: Removing Politics from the Science” 4 2010 Chicago “The Sun, the Milky Way and the C02 Monster” 6 2011 Washington, DC “A Circum-Global View on Sun-Climate Connection” 7 2012 Chicago “Almighty CO2, Giant Boa Snake and the Sun (What controls the equator-to-pole temperature distribution of the earth’s surface?)” Brendan Montague reported an unusual interview: 'During a one-hour, nine minute interview he managed to attack his former sponsors at ExxonMobil, dis[...]

Willie Soon's Climate Science Denial Wasn't Ever Credible: Climate Scientists

Sat, 28 Feb 2015 15:58:00 +0000

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless.” - NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt, to the New York Times Recent revelations regarding Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon's financing and coordination with fossil fuel companies for studies undermining the science of climate change has received quite a bit of attention. Our friends at the Climate Investigations Center have links to source documents, letters to the IRS and Congress, letters to journals that Soon appears to have mislead, and some of the press covering all of this. The drama has largely outshone the main point among most scientists: Willie Soon's work is vastly discredited. For those who aren't familiar with Willie Soon's fossil fuel company contracting over the last fifteen years, there is probably a legitimate question of whether or not this guy deserves to be in his current pinch. Frankly, he had it coming. Scientists and science reporters have often had to waste their time addressing the interference of Soon and his cohorts, who take advantage of the public's general unfamiliarity with scientific nuance.  But scientists too are talking about Dr. Soon's work and what it means for the troubled peer-review process that the most stringent journals usually adhere to. Here is a summary of some of the most interesting conversations in science publications about Willie Soon's #Fakexpert scandal. First, Soon's manager at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Charles Alcock, has time and time again said that neither he nor Smithsonian support Soon's fossil-funded conclusions. From E&E Publishing's ClimateWire: “I'd have to say that I've reached my conclusions independent of Dr. Soon's work,” Alcock said. “Dr. Soon is not actively engaged in actually gathering new data. He's principally disputing the interpretation of data gathered by other people. And I think this is an area where most of the progress will be made by people who collect new [climate] data or who build new models.” Soon's industry-financed papers have been debunked by climate scientists over and over. Just last month, Soon co-authored a paper claiming to debunk decades of science using a “simple” model of long term temperature projections. Scientists worldwide noted that Soon's methodology was grossly oversimplified, ignoring key factors that scientists have warned will lead to unprecedented temperature increases in the coming decades. The Heartland Institute, a think tank with ties to the fossil fuel industry, paid to promote this paper in Science Bulletin, a journal published by the Chinese National Academy of Sciences. Heartland has misrepresented the Chinese NAS for political purposes before, and Science Bulletin was the latest victim of Dr. Soon's serial lack of disclosure of fossil fuel funding to science journals. Science Insider - published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) - interviewed editors at science journals who appear to have been fooled by Dr. Soon's non-disclosure of his industry payments. But Soon's work was widely disregarded before his controversial 2015 paper in Science Bulletin. The prestigious science journal Nature notes that Dr. Soon's haggard relationship with science isn't new: The scientist has published numerous papers that go against mainstream climate science. Most famously, in 2003, Soon co-authored a paper in the journal Climate Research that questioned the standard interpretation of climate change over the past millennium and argued that recent warming is not unusual by historical standards. Subsequent controversy led to the resignation of several of the journal’s editors. In that case, the controversy revolved around scientific issues, not disclosure of funding sources. [More on this scandal in our profile of Willie Soon] NASA climate scientist Gavin Schmidt for RealClimate re-starts, giving Soon the benefit of the doubt (select clips): However, a valid question is whether the science that arose from the[...]

Anti-Science Associations: Rand Paul, Jane Orient, Art Robinson, Willie Soon And Friends, Plus HHS Nominee Tom Price & Funder Robert Mercer

Mon, 23 Feb 2015 19:42:20 +0000

Update 11/30/16 Tom Price, Donald Trump's nominee to run Health and Human Services was(is?) an AAPS Member, discussed in far more detail by Orac in this recommended 11/30/16 post.  Update 12/01/16 A year ago, Zachary Mider wrote What Kind of Man Spends Millions to Elect Ted Cruz? about Robert Mercer, who then strongly backed Donald Trump's campaign, but has funded several of the organizations here and attended meeting(s). It included a graph like that below, but with Mercer at center. In “Rand Paul Is Linked to Doctors' Group That Supports Vaccination Challenges,” the New York Times documented his long involvement (~1990-2010) with the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), but only scratched the surface of the strangeness. AAPS Executive Director Jane Orient and her associates run a tightly-coupled group of 501(c)(3) public charities. They seem to reject much modern science and focus efforts to promote political views, perhaps beyond the 501(c) rules. Enough has been learned since this earlier post to motivate this update and some following posts, especially given the recent prominence of DDP's favorite outside speaker, Willie Soon. [Willie Soon's fossil fuel funding, and failures to disclose, are hot in the news right now, see New York Times, The Guardian, Inside Climate News, and DeSmogBlog.] Of course, organization membership does not imply acceptance of all positions, but Rand Paul's long-time association raises questions. Which of their views on science does he accept? Which of their policies does he support? Rand Paul is still featured at AAPS About Us, often using “we” regarding its actions. (click for larger image) Jane Orient (or this or this) is the contact for at least 6 nonprofits some dormant, most tax-exempt 501(c)(3).   She signed the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.  She met with Philip Morris and was often mentioned and seemed aligned with Big Tobacco against attempts to reduce teen smoking.  She wrote Attack on Coal Will Not Save Lives, and as President of DDP below, supports many attacks against climate science, below. For a quick calibration, watch the 16-minute video in which she introduced the 2013 DDP program. Andrew Schlafly (Wikipedia, RationalWiki) has long been AAPS General Counsel, so is presumably known to Rand Paul. He has spoken often for DDP, on such topics as global warming in courts, the litigation epidemic, that litigation and junk science helped bring down the World Trade Center, and that great thinkers are almost entirely created via home schooling. Regardless of the merits, the relevance of some seems unclear to the stated purposes of DDP.  His behavior in the “Lenski Affair” seems similar to those who demand data while lacking the expertise or intent to do something useful with it. AAPS Educational Foundation, IRS, apparently dormant. Southwestern Institute of Science LTD IRS, apparently dormant. Physicians for Civil Defense, IRS, still has active website, cuirrently featuring “The Good News About Nuclear Destruction.” At least once DDP sent money there, easy since they are located in the same office. American Health Legal Foundation (AHLF), IRS, has $500K in assets and 2 officers/directors shared with AAPS, plus Orient. Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS, 501(c)(6)), IRS, has $800K assets,  paid Jane Orient $182,600 in 2012 (Form 990), has a few thousand members, website, and entries in Wikipedia, SourceWatch and RationalWiki, which has a good list of AAPS positions. AAPS publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (JPandS), not an indexed, peer-reviewed journal, discussed in 2007, or in 2009.  JPandS published “Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide” in 2007 by Art Robinson, Noah Robinson, and Willie Soon.  It has often published Robinsons, as well as other climate-relevant pieces. Besides Jane Orient, it has shared seveal offices/directors with DDP, as enumerated in at[...]

VIDEO: Heartland CEO Confronted Over Barre Seid's Funding of IPCC Attacks

Tue, 24 Sep 2013 18:53:37 +0000

Yesterday, the Heritage Foundation hosted The Heartland Institute's CEO Joseph Bast, along with two of Heartland's contracted climate denial scientists (Willie Soon and Bob Carter), to present their new report that denies the seriousness of global warming. Greenpeace was there to ask Heartland about the report's funders, including billionaire Barre Seid, and to challenge Heartland's assertion that their work has any scientific validity (it doesn't). See the video for yourself. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="415" scrolling="no" src="//" width="560"> Heartland's “Climate Change Reconsidered,” written by the usual climate denier suspects under the guise of the “Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change” (NIPCC) is intended to undermine new scientific findings from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Despite what Joe Bast and Heartland comms director Jim Lakely claim, their false report is not peer-reviewed, a formal process conducted by editors at actual scientific journals have other qualified scientists rigorously review and critique submitted work if it is to be approved for publication. You'll notice that Heartland's climate denial report isn't being published in any scientific journals, but rather from Heartland itself. This is because the document is a public relations tool intended to keep politicians and the public doubting that global warming is worth addressing. While Heartland continues politicizing science, demonizing credible scientists and using tobacco industry tactics to forge doubt over global warming, Americans are feeling the real toll climate change is already taking on society, by increasing the severity of storms like hurricane Sandy or pushing droughts, wildfires and heatwaves to new extremes. Heartland doesn't care, or even recognize, that global warming is already costing the global economy $1.2 trillion dollars and contributing to 400,000 deaths each year. They don't care that billion-dollar weathers disasters, intensified by climate change, are on the rise and impacting the U.S. economy and our infrastructure. Nor do they accept repeated research indicating the overwhelming consensus among credential climate scientists that human fossil fuel use is the primary driver of unnatural global warming–in fact Heartland's staff have repeatedly lied to cast doubt upon that research.Originally published on Polluterwatch. Tags: Barre Seidbob carterClimate Change Reconsidereddenialglobal warminggreenpeaceHeartland Instituteheritage foundationIPCCJim LakelyJoseph BastNIPCCpeer reviewReportScienceWillie Soon[...]

Koch & Exxon-funded Willie Soon Challenged by Students at Climate Denial Event

Wed, 10 Apr 2013 03:52:43 +0000

Crossposted from PolluterWatch. Rarely do we meet those who have made careers selling us lies. Consider the oddball doctors who took tobacco money to deny a link between cigarette smoking and cancer, or the handful of scientists who take oil and coal money to discredit global warming science, or the people who have done both. Last week, students in Wisconsin and Michigan stepped up to such an opportunity when CFACT Campus, the student arm of a well-known cabal of fossil fuel apologists, hosted climate change denier Willie Soon at several campus events around the country. Dr. Willie Soon is a Smithsonian Institution astrophysicist paid by Charles Koch, ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and coal utility Southern Company to write papers dismissing climate change, publish op-eds saying coal pollution won't affect our health, refute the seriousness of ocean acidification, and apparently anything else he can be paid to deny. Dr. Soon has misrepresented himself by repeatedly claiming affiliation with Harvard University and using his credentials as an astrophysicist to make people believe he's a climate expert, and he shows no sign of stopping. Indeed, he told students in Madison, ”I am as as qualified as anyone on the planet on this topic.” In both Madison, Wisconsin and East Lansing, Michigan, Dr. Soon was caught with his pants down. As the Michigan State News documented in its article and accompanying audio interview, Soon claims that all the scientists around the world who study and recognize the seriousness of climate change are motivated by money, yet somehow his funding from coal and oil companies for his extremely marginalized viewpoints doesn't matter. Here is the dialog with Willie Soon at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with direct links to key clips below: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"> 1) Willie Soon insinuates ExxonMobil will no longer fund him (emphasis added):  “I have been receiving money from whoever that wants to give me money. I write my scientific proposal. I have received money from ExxonMobil, but ExxonMobil will no longer give me any money for a long time. American Petroleum Institute, anything you wish for, from Southern Company, from all these companies. I write proposal and let them judge whether they will fund me or not, always for a very small amount. If they choose to fund me, I'm happy to receive it.” Click to watch (starts @ 1:52). 2) Dr. Soon stands behind his attempts to discredit the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with help from ExxonMobil lobbyists:  “I was trying to bring down IPCC–is that what you imply?! […] Let it be known that I do not like IPCC, because IPCC does not stand for science, it is corrupting science.” Click to watch (starts @ 3:32). After a question referencing emails with ExxonMobil lobbyists to undermine climate research at the United Nations before it even hit publication, Dr. Soon quickly loses his cool over his record of global warming denial, peppering the student with mild insults before owning up to his actions. 3) Dr. Soon thanks anyone who uses petroleum products or electricity from coal for supporting his work: “I really want to thank her, because she's receiving the electricity used for her house, she's driving cars, she's doing all of these things because you are funding me. It's not an oil or coal company. They are a company that provides a service to humanity–to people who want to use electricity.” Click to watch (starts @ 5:14) Anyone looking at Southern Company's record of pollution and political interference would be skeptical about its commitment to serve humanity. Soon continues with an aggressive rant claiming that the student isn't qualified to question his fossil fuel payments until she stops driving, using electricity, and wearing nylon.  4) Willie Soon states [...]

Fake science, fakexperts, funny finances, free of tax

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 23:08:47 +0000

Modern anti-science was created by the tobacco industry in the 1950s and then used against climate science, often by the same well-experienced think tanks and individuals.  Tobacco anti-science is strangely entangled with climate anti-science, as the attached report shows in detail involving Fred Singer's SEPP, Joseph Bast's Heartland, and more. (Fakery 2  10/25/12 updates this post with more data.) S. Fred Singer is President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP), but has done almost all the work himself for 20 years., including help for tobacco in the early 1990s. Research for Weird Science sent me on a  trek through his and other IRS Form 990s, which unearthed many curiosities of strange governance, fakery and funny finances, all tax-free. Singer claimed Frederick Seitz as Chairman for two years after his demise and 20 years after a Philip Morris staffer had written in 1989: “Dr. Seitz is quite elderly and not sufficiently rational to offer advice.” SEPP’s finances were curious.  SEPP paid no salaries, even for Singer’s 60-hour workweeks.  Money flowed oddly.  Asset trades often exceeded normal income and they accumulated to $1.5M, tax-free.   Then one money trail led to Heartland. Heartland Institute’s Joseph Bast staunchly defended “Joe Camel,” the infamous campaign to addict younger children.  Heartland got tobacco funding for many years, along with a Philip Morris Board member. Whitney Ball’s DONORS TRUST funded a major expansion of Heartland climate anti-science.  Singer collected old associates to help write “NonGovernmental International Panel on Climate Change“ (NIPCC) reports, filled with unsupported claims and long-refuted anti-science. He was helped by Craig Idso, of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change (CDCDGC), whose money flows also seem unusual.  Robert Ferguson’s Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) was a website and a  PO Box in a UPS store and he was actually a CSCDGC employee. Under Jay Lehr and James Taylor, anti-science permeated Heartland’s Environment and Climate News (E&CN) sent mostly to elected officials.  Heartland incessantly touted its access and influence with such officials, but its tax forms claimed no lobbying.  It ran “fake science” conferences, paying for government staff attendance.  It sent money to foreign non-charity advocacy groups, sent anti-science handbooks to school boards and urged parents to complain.  It has been criticized in Nature and Science. Free speech allows people to express opinions, even lie about facts, but tax-free operation is a revocable privilege.  Spreading factual untruths and confusion about smoking or climate science is neither research nor education in the public interest. Read the report, at least the first 21 pages, backed by nearly 200 of detailed backup. This report was scheduled to be published in a few days,  and by astonishing coincidence, just today we see Heartland Institute Exposed.  The report was done entirely from public sources, but today's new information is quite consistent and fills some holes.  However, the unnamed large Anonymous donor is now seen to be someone hiding behind DONORS TRUST, and some of the smaller ones dedicating funds appear in pp.57-59, with red itemizations. We also see some of the actual payments I had to infer. 03/11/12 CORRECTION:  p.58 omitted a DONORS CAPITAL item for 2008: “For media materials $100,000”, which should be added to various subtotals, making them consistent with the $4,610,000 reported on p.57, Fig. H.1.4.  H/T to Michael Fisher. 10/25/12 UPDATE: A major revision has been posted, with much more information on Barre Seid, DONORS TRUST and other funding issues. AttachmentSize fake.pdf4.99 MB Tags: SEPPSPPIheartlandidsothink tanksfakeryfakexpertsSingerBastCSCDGCFerguson[...]

Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003

Wed, 30 Nov 2011 14:00:00 +0000

Imagine for a moment that climate change skeptics actually submitted their anti-science arguments for publication in a credible peer-reviewed journal. Now imagine that, after thorough examination and debunking by their peers, these skeptics finally admitted their many false claims and assumptions, and perhaps some or all moved on to contribute meaningfully to the vast body of science confirming manmade climate change? Ok, back to reality. Instead, the skeptics' greatest and most-often cited (by them) “peer-reviewed studies” appeared in the journal Climate Research between 1997-2003. This journal has been considered credible at certain points in its history, and many fine papers have appeared there. But according to my new analysis [PDF] of the papers published in Climate Research, there is a very clear gap in credibility during the years 1997-2003 when Chris de Freitas served as one of the journal's editors. During this time, de Freitas oversaw the publication of 14 papers from notorious skeptics - half of them authored by fossil fuel industry pal Pat Michaels - many of which would not have survived rigorous and honest peer review at any other credible journal.  A few months ago, another journal's editor resigned over a paper that should not have been accepted due to a poor peer review process. It reminded many of us of the more drastic case of Climate Research (CR), where several editors resigned in 2003 in the wake of a colossally poor paper by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, accepted for publication by none other than Chris de Freitas. It was certainly not the first de Freitas-endorsed paper to pass weak editorial processes at Climate Research, but when incoming Editor-in-Chief Hans von Storch suggested the paper should not have been published, he endeavored to fix editorial processes to prevent such problems.  The publisher did not agree, so von Storch and other editors resigned. At the time, climate scientists were rightly concerned that CR had become a magnet for poor science. When the hacked CRU emails appeared in 2009, climate skeptics tried to invert reality, claiming that several widely-published climate scientists had conspired to subvert peer review.  The skeptic echo chamber lauded Chris de Freitas as a noble martyr, a cry that has grown louder this month in the aftermath of the so-called “Climategate 2.0” illegal release of more of the CRU scientists' emails. This isn't a novel experience when it comes to skeptic “science” efforts. Recall The Wegman Report for example, which attempted to criticize legitimate climate science for “bad” peer review, although it had no such peer critique itself.  A follow-on article, which also had bypassed peer review, ultimately earned a retraction for plagiarism.   If there seems to be a pattern here, there is. Reality bites back, and it appears set to do so again now. Last June, Pat Michaels wrote “Pal Review and Peer Review…” This inspired me to revisit the Climate Research episode in a more detailed fashion, and I began checking 700+ papers published there. As it turns out, the problem was more pervasive than climate scientists had suspected at the time. My analysis of the Climate Research papers shows that: From 1990 to 1996, CR published zero papers from any of the pals: Sallie Baliunas, Robert Balling, John Christy, Robert Davis, (Chris de Freitas), David Douglass, Vincent Gray, Sherwood Idso, PJ Knappenberger, Ross McKitrick, Pat Michaels, Eric Posmentier, Arthur Robinson, Willie Soon, and Gerd-Rainer Weber. DeSmogBlog readers may recognize these names, since most appear in the DeSmogBlog Research Database. They have long histories of cooperation in climate anti-science. Chris de Freitas became an editor and then accepted 14 papers from the pals between 1997-2003. With de Freitas as an editor, Climate Research provided a[...]

David Legates Asked To Step Down As Delaware State Climatologist

Thu, 14 Jul 2011 17:01:15 +0000

David Legates announced this week that he was asked to step down as Delaware State Climatologist, a position he held for seven years. A long-time denier of the human contribution to climate change, Legates’ tenure as State Climatologist has always been a controversial one. Back in 2007, because of his stance on climate, then-governor Ruth Ann Minner insisted that Legates stop using the formal title in any public statements on climate change policy. Minner wrote to Legates: “Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration. In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist.” Legates maintained the title, however, which is designated by the Dean of the public university’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. But this week, according to Legates himself, the Dean asked him to “step down.” Legates sent the following note to his email list: From: David R. Legates Date: Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 10:48 AM Subject:  New State Climatologist Dear All,   I want to notify you of a change in the Office of the Delaware State Climatologist.  I have been asked by our Dean’s office to step down and the former Deputy Dean, Dr. Daniel J. Leathers, will be reassuming the title of the Delaware State Climatologist.  He will be representing the Office in Asheville and I hope you will welcome him.   I thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Delaware State Climatologist for the last seven years and to work alongside each of you. Sincerely, David R. Legates The obvious question becomes: why now? Legates had endured as a denier in the role of official Delaware State Climatologist through seven years under Democratic governors who openly support action on climate change. I placed multiple calls to both the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), and was unable to find anyone willing or able to go on the record to explain why Legates was asked to step down from the position.  The timing could indicate that it had something to do with Legates’ close ties to Wei Hock “Willie” Soon, another prominent denier who has recently found himself embroiled in controversy. Late last month, Greenpeace released documents acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, and these documents reveal deep financial ties between Soon and many oil and gas companies, including ExxonMobil. The most startling takeaway from the Greenpeace report was that Soon has received more than $1 million from the oil and coal industries since 2001, and that “since 2002, every new grant he has received has been from either oil or coal interests.” Soon, who is not a climatologist, but an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has made a living over the past decade by taking an outspokenly skeptical stance to man made climate change. Soon’s name is also often linked to Legates’: the two co-authored the notorious and mightily-debunked “polar bear study” paper in 2007, the two are both listed as “ “experts” for the George C. Marshall Institute, a Washington, DC-based think-tank that has received over $700,000 in funding from ExxonMobil, and Soon has referred to Legates as a colleague during Congressional hearings. Further, buried in Greenpeace’s report is an eye-opening email sent by Soon in 2003 that anticipates the release of the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, and more than hints at an overt and calculated plot to discredit the report’s findings. The email was sent to five recipients, including a “Dave,” that Greenpeace analysts say is “most defi[...]

Don't Be Fooled: Fossil Fools Fund Latest Climate Skeptic Petition

Sun, 17 Apr 2011 22:41:11 +0000

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) recently published a flashy headline that reads, ’900+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism Of “Man-Made” Global Warming (AGW) Alarm’. The article links to a blog post on listing more than 900 papers which, according to the GWPF, refute “concern relating to a negative environmental or socio-economic effect of AGW, usually exaggerated as catastrophic.” The “900+ papers” list is supposed to somehow prove that a score of scientists reject the scientific consensus on climate change. One might be persuaded by the big numbers. We’re not. Oh, where to begin? First, a note of caution about the Global Warming Policy Foundation. It’s a UK group opposing climate change action. Sourcewatch’s digging reveals links to right-wing libertarian climate change deniers. According to the UK Charity Commission, GWPF’s mandate is to “advance the public understanding of global warming and of its possible consequences, and also of the measures taken or proposed to be taken in response to it”. Actually, they’re a heck of a lot more interested in sowing seeds of doubt than in disseminating knowledge. The GWPF’s director is the Heartland Institute’s* Benny Peiser, climate change denier extraordinaire. Other notable members include Canada’s Ross McKitrick of the Fraser Institute.    Curiously, the GWPF was launched just as the Climategate emails were released. An op-ed by Chairman Nigel Lawson announced the GWPF, predicted the (hopeful) failure of the Copenhagen climate talks, and called for an inquiry into the content of the stolen emails. Using a screen-scraping process to analyze the data on the “900+” list, the folks over at Carbon Brief dug up some pretty incriminating information. Turns out nine of the ten most cited authors on the list (representing 186 of the 938 papers) have links to ExonMobil-funded organizations. The tenth has co-authored several papers with Exxon-funded contributors. Anyone familiar with these kinds of lists (“More than 500 scientists dispute global warming” or “more Than 1000 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims”) knows that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.  Many familiar climate skeptic names appear over and over again. Dr. Sherwood B Idso is the most cited author on the list, having authored or co-authored 67 of the papers. Idso is president of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, a think tank funded by ExxonMobil and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.  The second most cited is Dr. Patrick J. Michaels, a well-known climate sceptic who admits that around 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry. When you really crunch the numbers, all you really find is a small echochamber of the same individuals who pop up on every denier list and petition around. James W. Prall at the University of Toronto has put together a fantastic analysis of the names that appear on these lists, and shows how most of them share funding ties to the oil industry.  Now a note on the most cited journals on this list. Articles from trade journal Energy and Environment are cited 137 times on the list. Energy and Environment is edited by Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen and Benny Peiser. Numerous known climate skeptics sit on the editorial staff including Sallie Baliunas, Patrick Michaels, Ross McKitrick, and Richard Lindzen.  The journal has become a go-to resource for policymakers and politicians who are skeptical of the scientific consensus of climate change.  Michael Ashley of the University of New South Wales has described it as “the climate sceptic’s journal of choice”. The Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge is considered a key resource for establishing the creden[...]

Denial-a-palooza Round 4: 'International Conference on Climate Change' Groups Funded by Exxon, Koch Industries

Thu, 13 May 2010 19:15:56 +0000

In what has become an annual non-event, the Heartland Institute will gather the who’s-who of the global warming denial network together in Chicago this weekend for the fourth International Conference on Climate Change.  As in years past, the event is expected to receive very little mainstream media coverage.  The deniers like to think the reason is some liberal media conspiracy.  In reality, the lack of interest stems chiefly from the fact that this denial-a-palooza fest is dripping with oil money and represents a blatant industry effort to greenwash oil and coal while simultaneously attacking the credibility of climate scientists. Despite the lack of press interest, the show must go on.  After all, the Chicago meet-up will provide deniers and industry front groups a chance to coordinate their ongoing efforts to smear the reputation of the IPCC, and they can reminisce about the Climategate non-scandal like boys in the schoolyard kicking around a rusty old can. For insight into the underlying aim of the Chicago denier conference, let us take a look at the funding sources for the sponsoring organizations. Funding: 19 of the 65 sponsors (including Heartland itself) have received a total of over $40 million in funding since 1985 from ExxonMobil (funded 13 orgs), and/or Koch Industries family foundations (funded 10 orgs) and/or the Scaife family foundations (funded 10 orgs).  See below for a full funding break-down. ExxonMobil (1998-2008): $6,588,250 ($389,250 more than reported in 2009) Koch Foundations (1985-2008): $17,572,210 ($13,133,290 more than reported in 2009) Scaife Family Foundations (1985-2008): $16,352,000 ($20,516,640 less than reported in 2009*) Total Funding 1985-2008: $40,512,460 *The Heritage Foundation sponsored the 2009 conference and is notably absent from sponsoring the 2010 ICCC. Heritage has received $23,096,640 from Scaife, $2,417,000 from Koch and $565,000 from Exxon between 1998-2006. ExxonMobil has backed off funding many of the groups who have sponsored global warming denial, thanks in large measure to the relentless work of, a project of Greenpeace USA.  However, the funding gap has been filled by the private oil fortunes of the Koch and Scaife families, who continue to pump funds into the network of climate denial and “free market” groups. “These same anti-regulatory ‘free market’ organizations are hell-bent on keeping us addicted to dirty oil and coal.  They’ve pushed for more offshore drilling, fought improvements to fuel economy standards and stalled action on global warming through denial and deception,” says Kert Davies, Research Director of Greenpeace USA. According to the Media Transparency project, the Scaife Family of Foundations is “financed by the Mellon industrial, oil and banking fortune. At one time its largest single holding was stock in the Gulf Oil Corporation. [Scaife] became active in funding conservative causes in 1973, when Richard Mellon Scaife became chairman of the foundation.” The Koch foundations’ money comes from the profits generated by oil conglomerate Koch Industries, the “nation’s largest privately held energy company, with annual revenues of more than $25 billion. … Koch Industries is now the second largest family-owned business in the U.S., with annual sales of over $20 billion.” The Koch brothers, David and Charles, control the three family foundations that have “lavished tens of millions of dollars in the past decade on ‘free market’ advocacy institutions in and around Washington.” The Koch connections are the most interesting because of the lengths they go to attempt to deny their involvement.  DeSmogBlog asked a Koch spokesperson if they were involved in sponsoring the ICCC and received this repl[...]

National Post Disgraces Itself Again (Again)

Mon, 09 Mar 2009 22:55:35 +0000

Lorne Gunter of the National Post disgraced himself yet again this weekend with another outrageously inaccurate column about something he apparently knows nothing about: climate science. Gunter held forward William Happer as his climate skeptic champion to put those dullards at the IPCC to shame. He crows that Happer “is hardly a climate change ‘denier’ ”, and is instead “one of the world’s leading experts on the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases.” A quick internet search reveals that Happer is not climate researcher at all. His recent publications relate to MRI imaging in the lungs of rats. Perhaps more revealing is that Happer is also the Chairman of the George C. Marshall Institute – a right wing thing tank that has received $715,000 from Exxon Mobil since 1998. The usual list of Exxon-funded hacks have also been involved with this “Institute”, including Sallie Baliunas, Willie Soon, and Patrick J. Michaels. Last week Happer told a congressional committee, “I believe the increase of CO2 (in the atmosphere) is not a cause for alarm.” He went on to add: “We evolved as a species when CO2 concentrations were three or four times what are now”. A video of this testimony is available here. Is this true? Of course not. Here is a graph of atmospheric concentrations of CO2 for the last 450,000 years. Humans evolved as a species about 200,000 years ago. The planet has been around for a long time and there is evidence that atmospheric CO2 hundreds of millions of years ago was higher that it is now. However, it is hardly a world that humans would want to live in. Radically different atmospheric chemistry during the Carboniferous period allowed millipedes to grow up to ten feet long. How would you like to find one of these critters eating your cat food? Happer also reassured Congress that the frightening scenario of positive feedbacks such as carbon and methane release from melting permafrost is nothing to worry about. “The feedback is close to zero and may even be negative.” Prof. Happer testified. True? Absolutely not. A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found many of the Earth’s ecosystems are already being pushed close to dangerous tipping points. “Everywhere we looked, there was evidence that what was believed to be likely has happened. Nature has been cooperating with climate change theory unfortunately,” warned author Dr. Stephen Schneider, a climatologist at Stanford University. Other interesting insights about Happer are covered here in a telling post from one of his former colleagues at Princeton. It is also illustrative to look at what media outlets parroted the Happer story last week - minus of course any of the quick fact checking that I just did above. A Google news search shows that Happer’s grossly inaccurate testimony was covered by such luminary publications at the American Thinker, Capitalism Magazine, and the Right Side News – in a piece penned by non other than Marc Morano. Morano of course is former staffer of Senator Inhofe, who has made a lucrative career out of denying climate science and taking hefty donations from the fossil fuel industry. Could it be that Lorne Gunter and the National Post are on Marc Morano’s speed dial in his new gig as a “clearinghouse and one-stop shopping’ for climate and environmental news”?  The quality of Gunter’s research is so laughably bad that there has to some explanation. [...]

Sarah Palin puts polar bears on thin ice

Wed, 01 Oct 2008 04:53:04 +0000

The United States is drawing closer and closer to one of the most important presidential elections in many years.In particular, the scientific community is anxiously anticipating the outcome on November 4. One of the reasons can be summed up by a December 12, 2007 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Report. In summary:This report presents the findings of the Committee’s investigation. The evidence before the Committee leads to one inescapable conclusion: the Bush Administration has engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public about the dangers of global warming. As their habitats are threatened by climate change, polar bears have become a primary symbol of the impending effects climate change will have on the entire planet. Predictably, the global warming deniers are attempting to muddle the science proving that polar bears are in peril. Guess which side Sarah Palin is on. In the context of the proposed federal listing of the polar bear as threatened, late last year, a story came out regarding Exxon-funded polar bear “research”:While recognizing the possible impact of climate change on the polar bear, the authors concluded “it is simply not prudent to overstate the certainty” that climate change, or any other single factor, is responsible for “observed patterns in polar bear population ecology.” The article, which was labeled a “Viewpoint” essay because it contained no new research, was published in the September issue of the Journal of Ecological Complexity. In their conclusion, the article's authors thanked ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute for their financial backing. They noted that the paper's views were “independent of sources providing support.” Many of the articles referenced by the paper were by the same authors and other global warming deniers, all of whom have been prominent mouthpieces for a variety of Exxon-funded think tanks. Fast forward to May 2008.  It turns out that Sarah Palin has played a starring role in the science fiction drama about how “the polar bears are really quite happy”. The UK Guardian tells us about their findings:The Republican Sarah Palin and her officials in the Alaskan state government drew on the work of at least six scientists known to be sceptical about the dangers and causes of global warming, to back efforts to stop polar bears being protected as an endangered species, the Guardian can disclose. Some of the scientists were funded by the oil industry. In official submissions to the US government's consultation on the status of the polar bear, Palin and her team referred to at least six scientists who have questioned either the existence of warming as a largely man-made phenomenon or its severity. One paper was partly funded by the US oil company ExxonMobil. […] [Palin's] own Alaskan review of the science drew on a joint paper by seven authors, four of whom were well-known climate- change contrarians. Her paper argued that it was “certainly premature, if not impossible” to link temperature rise in Alaska with human CO2 emissions. The “joint paper” to which the article refers is the “Viewpoint” essay mentioned above. The Guardian article quotes Walt Meier, who is an international authority on sea ice, saying that the “Viewpoint” essay “doesn't measure up scientifically”. More from the Guardian:The citation by Palin and her officials prompted complaints from Congress. One member, Brad Miller, dubbed the polar bear study phony science. Palin told Miller: “Attempts to discredit scientists…simply because their analyses do not agree with your views, would be a disservice to this country.” Mil[...]

Enter the Inhofian Polar Bear Expert

Mon, 12 May 2008 22:51:36 +0000

What a coincidence. Just as the Alaska State Legislature allocates $2 million for a conference promoting climate change deniers' “expert” analysis of why polar bears aren't really endangered, a poster boy for polar bear junk science emerges from the woodwork. Enter J. Scott Armstrong, who is a marketing professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. His research emphasizes forecasting methods, which he has used as the cornerstone for - you guessed it - claims that the IPCC climate change projections are actually all wrong.Now he's extended his “forecasts” to say that polar bears are doing just fine. He alluded to his research when Sen. James Inhofe called him as an “expert” to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the proposed endangered status of the polar bear; now, Armstrong has released an official statement advertising his paper.Here's the link (warning, slow website): Research done by the U.S. Department of the Interior to determine if global warming threatens the polar bear population is so flawed that it cannot be used to justify listing the polar bear as an endangered species, according to a study being published later this year in Interfaces, a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®). […] Professor J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School says, “To list a species that is currently in good health as an endangered species requires valid forecasts that its population would decline to levels that threaten its viability. In fact, the polar bear populations have been increasing rapidly in recent decades due to hunting restrictions. Assuming these restrictions remain, the most appropriate forecast is to assume that the upward trend would continue for a few years, then level off.[…]Prof. Armstrong and colleagues originally undertook their audit at the request of the State of Alaska. The subsequent study, “Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public Policy Forecasting Audit,” is by Prof. Armstrong, Kesten G. Green of Monash University in Australia, and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is scheduled to appear in the September/October issue of the INFORMS journal Interfaces. Armstrong's claims regarding the increasing polar bear population have been debunked again and again (which doesn't stop Inhofe and others from repeating the claims, of course).Also, those who are familiar with climate change deniers will recognize Willie Soon 's name. He's one of the true believers that solar activity causes global warming, which has also been repeatedly debunked (quite conclusively , in fact).Click here (pdf) to read the paper. My forecast is that it will be quoted over and over again throughout the deniersphere. As the saying goes, “if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, then baffle them with..,” well, you know the saying. Tags: global warmingpolar bearsalaskapolar bear populationendangered species actAlaska State LegislatureJ. Scott Armstrong[...]

Chris de Freitas

Mon, 12 Mar 2007 19:13:15 +0000

Chris de Freitas (Deceased) Credentials PhD (Queensland). [1] MA (Toronto). [1] BA (Hons). [1] Background Chris De Freitas was an Associate Professor at the School of Geography and Environmental Science, University of Auckland. De Freitas passed away in 2017 after a two year struggle with cancer. [1], [11] According to his profile at the University of Auckland, De Freitas previously worked as the Deputy Dean of Science and Head of Science and Technology at the Tamaki campus, and also worked for four years as Pro Vice Chancellor. His positions include former Vice President of the Meteorological Society of New Zealand, Vice President of the International Society of Biometeorology and is co-founder of the Australia New Zealand Climate Forum. For 10 years he was an editor of the Climate Research journal. [1] During his time as editor, Climate Research was the source of some controversy when papers were published that led several editors to resigned in protest, pointing to the journal's flawed peer review process. Mother Jones reported that one such article was written by climate change deniers Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas, which concluded “the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium.” [12] Stance on Climate Change July 16, 2011 De Freitas told The New Zealand Herald:  [2] “'I do not dispute that the carbon dioxide rise in the atmosphere is largely from the use of fossil fuels,' 'No doubt rising carbon dioxide could “change the climate”. The basic physics is there to support this view. But where is the evidence that the putative change would be large or damaging?' In more extreme weather events perhaps? De Freitas doesn't accept that extreme weather events are linked to human induced climate change (global warming). 'It is unlikely that the man-made changes are drivers of significant climate variation,' he wrote in 2007. As far as he's concerned the climate has always changed - naturally. And the fact that global carbon dioxide emissions last year rose by a record amount to almost 31 billion tonnes is neither here nor there.” [2] Key Quotes “I am not a global warming sceptic. I accept that rising human-caused CO2 from fossil sources could 'change the climate'. The basic physics is there to support this view. But where is the evidence that the putative change would be large or damaging?” [7] Key Deeds October 1, 2010 Chris de Freitas was listed as a speaker at the Heartland Institute's “Pac-Rim Conference on Climate Change.” [13] allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="300" src="" width="500"> October 25, 2006 Chris de Freitas was one of several scientists submitting amicus brief organized by Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) on Carbon Dioxide pollution case before Supreme Court. [3] January, 2003 As a former editor Climate Research, de Freitas was involved in a controversy surrounding a research article co-authored by Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon. The article reviewed previous scientific papers and came to the conclusion that the climate hasn't changed in the last 2000 years. [4], [14] Thirteen of the authors that had been cited in the paper by Baliunas and Soon refuted the interpretation of their work.  Among the sharp criticisms of the Climate Research paper was one from Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. When von Storch, then the journal’s editor, read Mann's critique, he said he realized his journal should never have accepted the study: “If it would have been properly reviewed, it would have bee[...]