Wei-Hock Soon, a leading climate change denier whose work has fortified right-wing political arguments for years, was paid more than $1.2 million by energy companies, The New York Times reports. New documents uncovered by Greenpeace via the Freedom of Information Act show that over the last decade, Soon received sizable funding from oil and gas corporations, which he failed to disclose in scientific papers he published.
This is not the first time Soon has been found receiving compensation for his research. In 2011, Reuters reported that Soon received $131,000 from ExxonMobil to study the Sun's role in climate change. According to the Times, Soon has little background in climatology, but insists in his findings that transformations in the Sun's energy — not human activity — is the reason for the planet's warming.
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the chair of the Senate's Environment and Public Works committee who believes man-made climate change is a hoax, has repeatedly cited Soon's work over the years, according to the Times. In reference to scientists who deny climate change Inhofe said, "These are scientists that cannot be challenged."
The documents reveal the extent of Soon's ties to corporations
"What it shows is the continuation of a long-term campaign by specific fossil-fuel companies and interests to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change," Kert Davies, executive director at the Climate Investigations Center, told the Times. Experts say Woon's work employs "out-of-date data, publishes spurious correlations between solar output and climate indicators, and does not take account of the evidence implicating emissions from human behavior in climate change."
Soon, a part-time researcher at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has long claimed corporate paychecks have not influenced his scientific findings. Charles R. Alcock, director at the center, admitted to the Times that Soon had violated the disclosure standards of some scientific journals.
The window to fight global warming is rapidly shrinking, and many politicians admit climate change is real while still denying its human origin. Soon's work bolsters that denial, but his ties to corporate funding should damage his already shaky credibility.