Willie Soon

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Dr. Willie Wei-Hock Soon (who is most commonly referred to as Willie Soon) is a global warming denier. He is a physicist at the Solar, Stellar, and Planetary Sciences Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and, since 1992[1], has been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory,[2], where climate denier and Marshall Institute co-founder Robert Jastrow was Director[3] from 1992-2003.[4]

"U.S. oil and coal companies, including ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, Koch Industries, Peabody Coal,[5] and the world’s largest coal-burning utility, Southern Company, have contributed more than $1.2 million over the past decade to his research. According to Greenpeace, every grant Dr. Soon has received since 2002 has been from oil or coal interests."[6]

Biographical notes

A biographical note from 2000 stated that he was "a contributing editor to World Climate Report and member of the American Astrophysical Society, American Geophysical Union, and International Astronomical Union."[7] Two years later, another biographical note stated that he was a former contributing editor to World Climate Report but added that he was then an "Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies of the University of Putra, Malaysia." It also stated that "for years, he has researched the topic of the orbital theory of climate change, the Milankovic theory for glacial and interglacial changes."[8]

A biographical note formerly on the website of DCI Group-run Tech Central Station, where Soon was listed as "Science Director" between approximately September 2003[9] and May 2007, listed his "areas of Expertise" as "Global warming", "Mercury", "Solar Variability" and the "Arctic".[10] His bio note on TCS stated that "Dr. Willie Soon's views expressed are not necessarily those of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics."[10]

In November 2014, Soon’s biographical note stated he was "a solar physicist and climate scientist based in Cambridge, Mass.” [11]

Global Warming Denier ties

Soon has long been associated with various U.S. and Canadian think tanks disputing human-induced global warming. Many of the papers he has published on the topic have been co-authored with Sallie L. Baliunas and sometimes with her and other co-authors.

Between December 1998[12] and September 2001[13] he was listed as a "Scientific Adviser" to the Greening Earth Society, a group that was funded and controlled by the Western Fuels Association (WFA), an association of coal-burning utility companies. WFA founded the group in 1997, according to an archived version of its website, "as a vehicle for advocacy on climate change, the environmental impact of CO2, and fossil fuel use."[14] While Soon remains listed on the websites of various think tanks noted for disputing global warming -- such as the Fraser Institute in Canada and the George C. Marshall Institute in the U.S. -- Soon has not written for them for a long time. (For example, the last paper by Soon published on the website of the Fraser Institute dates back to January 2003[15] and for the Marshall Institute the last published paper was in May 2003[16]) (Baliunas was one of the other "scientific advisers").

In 2003, Soon testified on the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works where he claimed that the climate of the 20th century was not extreme. “I am here today to testify that the climate of the 20th century is neither unusual nor the most extreme. Around 1,000 years ago, the temperature over many parts of the world was warm. A widespread cooling then set in for several centuries, followed by a recovery to 20th century warming,” Soon said.[17]

In 2013, Soon testified to the Kansas State Legislature where he claimed that there was no evidence that the Earth was changing in a dangerous way. “There is no experimental data that exists that supports the view that the Earth’s climate is changing in any dangerous way,” Soon said.[18]

In September 2014, Soon co-authored an opinion piece in the Washington Times with Christopher Monckton that criticized the work of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and claimed “most of the fundamental problems in our still immature understanding of climate have remained unresolved for decades.” [19]

In November 2014, Soon accused the IPCC of “scare mongering” in response to 2014 United Nations Climate Change Synthesis Report [20], which confirmed the fact that “emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.” “When will IPCC admit that their scare mongering is simply not working anymore? Our wonderful planet is not IPCC’s private casino parlor,” Soon said. [21]

In January 2015, Soon and three other global warming deniers published an article in Science Bulletin claiming that the UN panel tracking global warming used a flawed methodology to estimate global temperature change.[22] Soon and the three other climate-change deniers declared no conflicts of interests at the end of the paper.[22] Following the published article, the Climate Investigations Center filed a complaint[23] to the Science Bulletin editorial staff, expressing concern that Dr. Soon did not disclose his funding sources after claiming he had no conflict of interest. The complaint cited a Green Peace report[3] that revealed Soon accepted more than $1.3 million from companies, think tanks, and organizations that have either publicly criticized human-caused climate change or have a financial interest in fossil fuels.[3]

In January 2015, Soon was cited by Senator James Inhofe, who called "catastrophic global warming" a "hoax" and stated that "natural variability, not fossil fuel emissions, is the overwhelming factor influencing climate change.”[24] “These are scientists that cannot be challenged,” Inhofe said on the U.S. Senate floor.[25]

“He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work,” the New York Times reported in February 2015. [26] InsideClimate News detailed the 11 instances where Soon failed to disclose fossil funding in a chart.[27]

Following the New York Times article, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate sent letters to universities, companies and trade groups asking for information bout funding to the scientists. [28]


Soon received his Ph.D. in 1991 in aerospace engineering from the University of Southern California (USC). Both his undergraduate and Masters of Science degrees are also from USC.[29]

Soon received in 2004 the Petr Beckmann Award from Doctors for Disaster Preparedness (DDP) for "outstanding contributions to the defense of scientific truth".[30][31]DDP is closely associated with Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Sallie L. Baliunas received the same award in 1997 and other global warming skeptics have been recipients in subsequent years.)

In 2014, Soon was given an award at the Heartland Institute's Ninth International Conference on Climate Change for “speaking truth to power, whistleblowing, and the defense of science.” [32]


Soon has received more than $1.3 million in funding from Big Oil and coal industry sponsors over the past decade, according to a Greenpeace report[3] based on FOIA requests. Since 2002, every grant Dr. Soon received originated with fossil fuel interests, he has has received at least $230,000 from Koch Family Foundations .[3]

In early 2009, Soon's current biographical note stated that he was a "chief science adviser for the Science and Public Policy Institute" (SPPI).[33] Prior to Bob Ferguson founding SPPI in mid 2007, Soon worked with him from mid-2003 at the Center for Science and Public Policy, a project of Frontiers of Freedom (FOF)[34] funded, at least in part, by Exxon.[35]


  • between Dec 1998 and September 2001 he was a "Scientific Advisor" to Greening Earth Society[36]
  • appropriately 2002: Professor of the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies of the University of Putra, Malaysia [8]
  • senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute between approximately November 1997 and May 2003[2]; some of these articles were republished by the Fraser Institute.[1]
  • September 2003 - May 2007 science director for Tech Central Station (TCS)[9][10]; Greenpeace writes that "Over the four years that he wrote for Tech Central, Dr. Soon wrote on a wide range of issues entirely unrelated to astrophysics - his area of expertise - such as the impact of wind farms on agriculture, regulations on mercury and attacks on various US states for their efforts to curb carbon dioxide emissions."[3]
  • Since March 2014, Soon was listed as an “expert” on the Heartland Institute website. [37]


See Willie Soon - communications for a list of his speaking engagements, interviews and articles. He does not appear to have a website providing this information.


Articles and Resources

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Willie Soon: Physicist, The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics", Fraser Institute website, accessed March 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Willie Soon", George C. Marshall Institute website, accessed March 2009.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "CASE STUDY: Dr. Willie Soon, a Career Fueled by Big Oil and Coal" released 2011-06-28, accessed 2011-12-23
  4. Marshall Institute, Remembering Robert Jastrow, 2008-02-11, accessed 2011-12-23
  5. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/13/peabody-energy-coal-mining-climate-change-denial-funding
  6. David Suzuki (2011-07-13). Investigation hits at climate change denier’s 'science'. Canoe.ca. Retrieved on 2011-07-19.
  7. "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from May 2000.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Doctors for Disaster Preparedness, "Speakers 20th Annual Meeting of DDP Colorado Springs, CO, July 27-28, 2002", Doctors for Disaster Preparedness website, archived from August 2002.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Dr. Willie Soon", TCS Tech Central Station, archived from September 3, 2003.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "Willie Soon", TCS Daily, archived from May 20, 2007.
  11. "Boycotting the U.N. climate summit", Washington Times website, September 18, 2014.
  12. "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from December 1998.
  13. Greening Earth Society, "Scientific Advisers", Greening Earth Society, website archived from September 2001.
  14. "Join GES", Greening Earth Society website, archived from March 2005.
  15. See Fraser
  16. See Marshall
  17. "Climate History and the Science Underlying Fate, Transport, and Health Effects of Mercury Emissions,", Committee on Environment and Public Works, Page 6. July 29, 2003
  18. "Legislature considering delays in renewable energy standards,", Lawrence Journal-World, February 5, 2013
  19. "Boycotting the U.N. climate summit", Washington Times website, September 18, 2014.
  20. "Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report", IPCC Website, December 2014.
  21. "Heartland Institute Experts Comment on Latest United Nations Climate Report", Heartland Institute Archived Website, November 5, 2014.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Science Bulletin", Science Bulletin Website, January 2015.
  23. "Willie Soon Fails Conflict of Interest Test in Science Bulletin Article", CIC website, January 26, 2015.
  24. “The Science of Climate Change Senate Floor Statement” U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, July 28, 2003.
  25. “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher” New York Times, February 21, 2015.
  26. “Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher” New York Times, February 21, 2015.
  27. “A Guide To Willie Soon's Climate Research Funded by Fossil Fuel Companies” InsideClimate News, February 23, 2015.
  28. “Lawmakers Seek Information on Funding for Climate Change Critics” New York Times, February 25, 2015.
  29. "Scientific Advisors", Greening Earth website, archived from April 2000.
  30. "DDP Meeting Notes", Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, July 2004, VOL. XXI, NO.4.
  31. Sallie Baliunas and Soon, "Climate History and the Sun", Marshall Institute, June 5, 2001.
  32. “Three Global Warming Skeptics Win Awards”, Heartland Institute, June 19, 2014.
  33. Soon and Paul Driessen, "Eco-colonialism degrades Africa", WEBCommentary, February 18, 2009.
  34. Soon & Robert Ferguson, "Is EPA ignoring the Science on Mercury?", Media Release, Center for Science and Public Policy, April 18, 2003.
  35. Exxon, "Public Information and Policy Research", Exxon website, 2002, page 3.(Pdf)
  36. "Join GES", Greening Earth Society website, archived from March 2005.
  37. "Willie Soon", Archived Heartland Institute website, accessed March, 29, 2014.

External Articles