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Michigan State: students highlight Willie Soon's oil and coal-funded climate denial career

Image from a USA Today article detailing Willie Soon's at events to confuse the public over climate science.

Written by Rachna Pannu. This event was covered in the Michigan State News by Simon Schuster, whose interview with Dr. Willie Soon confirms CFACT paid for Soon to attend these events.

Dr. Willie Soon, a well-known climate change denier, was invited by the MSU Campus Conservatives at Michigan State University to talk about climate change.  The event was sanctioned by CFACT, an obscure but vocal group among climate science deniers. We at MSU Greenpeace saw this as a great opportunity to have some of our members attend and question the reasons and methods with which he chooses to deny what 98% of climate scientists have agreed to be true
The bulk of Dr. Soon’s talk involved aggressively targeting published or well-known supporters of climate change prevention, including professors, Al Gore, and federal, national and international organizations. He went through the data, attempting to discredit it with conflicting data from other studies and experiments. However, this aspect of his talk left me with more questions than answers, especially since he is a known recipient of oil and coal money.

Willie Soon’s fossil fuel-funded career

Willie Soon spent a good amount of the talk repeatedly defending himself as an independent scientist simply seeking to learn the truth before anyone had even questioned his motives and his expertise. He ranted that people question his funding and his intentions, but he is just an objective man trying to get to the truth of climate change. He also used this opportunity to criticize the current scientific model of publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, claiming that it was a buddy-buddy system and peer-reviewing did not affect the validity of the article.
Essentially, Dr. Soon was warding off the holes in his credentials before anyone had questioned them because his doctorate is in astrophysics, which is not even related to the Earth’s climate, and has only been able to publish one article on climate science in a peer-reviewed journal. Even that article was hotly debated by the editors, who wrote a negative response and resigned from their positions in outrage. And Willie Soon's funding? It comes from fossil fuel companie--like ExxonMobil and Southern Company--totaling over $1 million in the last decade.

Questionable Climate ‘Science’ 

Willie Soon pulled up a graph showing the temperature range over a series of years in the 2000’s and asked rhetorically whether anyone could see an increase in the temperatures over time. Yes, I could, but I would rather like to question the validity of using a period of less than 10 years to examine the change in the Earth’s temperature over time. In another example, he showed a graph that analyzed both the variance in amplitude and shift in time for the predictions of temperatures by many different model used by scientists. The models were dispersed around the central point of zero difference in amplitude and zero shift in time, but he simply stated that the image showed errors in all of the models and stated that none of them were in the lower left corner. Why they should be in a region of less amplitude and a negative shift in time in relation to the actual temperature patterns baffles me.  
Members of MSU Greenpeace questioned Soon about his articles on climate science, and he became aggressive and very defensive, stating that peer-review did not signify greater accuracy (peer-review is crucial to ensuring the highest conduct in scientific research). When a member of The State News, the MSU student newspaper, asked why with about 13,900 published articles on the verity of climate change and only twenty-something that argue the reverse he felt that climate change did not exist, Dr. Soon again became frustrated. Soon referred to a quote from Albert Einstein, saying that it only takes one person to disprove what everyone agrees upon. Read coverage of this event from the State News here.
There was no way to have an effective discourse about climate change with Dr. Willie Soon because he refused to accept the very basic premises of our current scientific standards that peer-review ensures accuracy of the published articles and that a large consensus by educated individuals who have done their own research into a matter indicates the verity of the hypothesis. In addition, some of the data and sources he provided seemed either not applicable or reputable as we are taught is critical to reliable scientific research. 

Dr. Soon adds Ocean Acidification Denial to his Growing list of Specialties

Separate from Willie Soon’s questionable assertions about global temperature trends were his assertions used to dismiss ocean acidification, a serious problem that is linked with increasing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere (caused by companies funding Dr. Soon, like ExxonMobil and Southern Company). Soon's sources were shaky--data cited from a BlogSpot website, for instance, not exactly a credentialed scientific institution. He disputed a report by a marine biologist that claims increasing CO2 content of the ocean results in weakening of the shells of marine organisms by interfering with their ability to use calcium carbonate in their shells. 
Scientists who are serious about scientific standards tell us that ocean acidification is having a profound impact on coral reefs (they are dying rapidly), and scientists are working to determine if more acidic oceans are impacting crustaceans, ocean animals that have shells. Dr. Soon apparently already has the answers, stating that crabs and lobster shells were not composed of significant amounts of calcium carbonate, and then he provided data that showed lobsters and crabs increasing in size after carbon dioxide was bubbled through their water. If indeed the shells of crustaceans are not mainly composed of calcium carbonate, how does an experiment showing the effect of carbon dioxide presence in the water of lobster and crabs conflict with the statement that it affects the availability of calcium carbonate? 

Soon’s Limited Audience

The only thing I can say is that I felt some relief in that he was only able to attempt to influence a half-filled classroom composed of 1/3 individuals who did not attend the university and already believed in Soon’s paranoid vision of the world and 1/3 supporters of the movement to protect our planet. There are always a few doubters, a few critics and a few conspiracy theorists that refuse to acknowledge global warming no matter how much evidence is presented to them. If we can get the majority of rational individuals to understand the changes occurring to the environment, we can create change to save our planet and make it a healthier place to live. 
Rachna Pannu
Senior, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology B.S. 
Lyman Briggs College
Michigan State University


Charles Koch

Michigan State: students highlight Willie Soon's ...

Got dictionary?

"Essentially, Dr. Soon was warding off the holes in his credentials before anyone had questioned them because his doctorate is in astrophysics, which is not even related to the Earth’s climate ..."

astrophysics: branch of astronomy concerned with the physical and chemical properties of celestial bodies

Basics of Global Warming

A good half-hour lecture on the basics of global warming can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uedro84teXk

Getting educated on a topic means seeking the truth.

Orson Olson

Mr. Olson appears to have a business diploma from a suspect school in London.
His claim to be an environmental scientist may match Dr. Soon's!

trusting peer review in politicized science is naive and foolish

Soon stated "that peer-review did not signify greater accuracy (peer-review is crucial to ensuring the highest conduct in scientific research)." It doesn't. Journal referees only have time or interest to ensure that a modicum or median level of quality is met.

Often in the climate debate, the biggest ecologically-correct totems get an unscientific pass that only hostile scrutiny can expose. This happened over the neo-Hockey Stick by Marcott and Shaken, brazenly published in Science last month, and then exposed by statistical and paleoclimatology expert (working for nothing), Steve McIntyre,

Only last week, Roger Pielke, Jr, has called out this practice, science by press release - and, in this case, by the NSF no less: "...the public face of climate science is represented by the most vocal and politicized elements. As readers here know, I could write a book about the unseemly shenanigans that have gone on in the area of disasters and climate change.

"The climate community won't fix this situation until practicing scientists start publicly saying enough is enough." They dont; they won't; they are cowed by the Big Money.

Indeed, skeptics like Soon have been saying as much for years; Roger, what took you so long?

Enough with the gullibility, Rancha.

Soon is really heroic to speak Truth to entrenched powers

Caption: "Image from a USA Today article detailing Willie Soon's at events to confuse the public over climate science."

Even James Hansen and the UKs Met Office agree that global temps have stalled for up to the past 15 years - during which time, 25% of all man-made CO2 has been released into the atmosphere. This data falsifies the claim that the climate system is especially sensitive and vulnerable to easy man-made disruption. It isn't.

If Willie Soon is "confusing" people about propaganda contrary to the facts, then he's doing it for peanuts instead of the tens billions going into AGW research by our government each and every year.

Good man, Dr. Willie Soon! I hope to emulate his courage to speak from facts and defend scientific truth to the bureaucratic bullies, liars, and privileged elites.*

-Orson Olson
Environmental Scientist
Boulder, CO

PS Greenpeace co-founder turned ecologist dissenter, Patrick Moore, nicely summarizes the skeptic case for luke-warming in one chapter (a mere 40 pages) of his book, "Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist" (2010). It is well-documented for any popular audience.

*The Washington Post had to publish a retraction for repeating AGW-skeptic lies about Exxon-Mobil funding last December.
You will increase your credibility NOT to repeat these same errors.

" ... oil and coal-funded climate denial career... "

The two basic questions that really need to be asked is, what specifically does Dr Soon deny about global warming; and what is insinuated by the accusation " ... oil and coal-funded climate denial career... "

Ask those two in an objective manner, and be prepared to watch the so-called global warming crisis begin to collapse from its inability to answer such questions. The "denier" label is no more than an an unsupportable talking point. As skeptic scientist William Gray said so succinctly in a Feb 2000 NY Times article, "I don't think we're arguing over whether there's any global warming, the question is, 'What is the cause of it?'" ( http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/29/science/global-warming-the-contrarian-... )

The fossil fuel industry corruption accusation is even less supportable. Anyone on either side of the issue should engage in an exercise of due diligence and see if they can find a shred of evidence to prove that any amount of industry money was exchanged with skeptic climate scientists for specific demonstratively false fabricated science papers, reports or assessments. I'm not talking about vague references to entire books or Greenpeace-associated web sites, I mean SPECIFIC evidence. You see, without that, all we see are donations given because the donors happen to agree with what skeptics say.

Considering how critical that last point is in the efforts to marginalize skeptics, we have to wonder why the enviro-activists and the mainstream media are still unable to produce that evidence after nearly 20 years of making the accusation.


98% of scientists believe in warming that stopped 15 or more years ago?

Stubborn bunch.

The old 98% distortion. Is

The old 98% distortion. Is that 98% believe in CAGW?

"Consensus: The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in the search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?"

M. Thatcher

The problem Soon may or may

The problem Soon may or may not have presented is this: CO2 IPCC consensus narrative has CO2 radiative forcing dominant over natural variability even at the 15 year level. As per the UK Met Office computers, average temps are supposed to be going up even with natural variables moderating its influence. This means that the radiative forcing of CO2 is less than modelled.

All the dispute comes down to model assumptions. Without the CO2 radiative forcings as predicted, we have a temp rise that is not worth responding to in panic, if at all. Each element of non-CO2 warming or cooling that we feel we can use to defend the current temp record (or heat content of oceans record), be it extra-solar GCR, regular cloud cover,or aerosols decreases CO2 potency AND increases the potential for some of the pre-1998 temperature rise being of non-CO2 origin.

The key is to watch the CO2 radiative forcing (and water vapour feedback). Each time there is a reduction in this, the less of a catastrophe we are facing, and the less sense it makes to increase taxes and punish Western fossil fuel usage (because the non-Western world doesn't seem to care about reducing their CO2 production, which is ironic, because almost all of the proposed damage is going to happen to the non-Western world).

Too indoctrinated in liberal orthodoxy

Not until you leave college will you encounter people with courage and conviction that do not buy the whole global warming catastrophic scenario. Here's an easy question that you should be able to answer for any scientific theory - what would falsify the theory of global warming? If you can't say what would falsify it, you can't say what it claims either.

" our current scientific standards "

You have got to be kidding. Consensus and peer review are not scientific methods, they are political ones. If you are doing your own research and do not keep an eye out for inaccuracy in research done previously, you are doing yourself and the scientific method a disservice. The history books are littered with stories of where "the consensus" was proven wrong by one person with another answer. And lately, "peer review" appears, in some cases, to have become where your like-minded pals read over your work and agree with the results, hardly the critical examination it is intended to be. Please do not indicate that consensus and peer review are scientific standards. They do not guarantee accurate results.

I'm still trying to figure out what you are complaining about

Greenpeace FOIAed his emails? Who gave up his emails? Harvard? This is a private institution not subject to FOIA. Wow! I would like to know who made that idiotic decision. So much for academic freedom. Looks like the guy is being paid peanuts. He is making less than $65k a year? How much is he getting paid by Harvard-Smithsonian? Looks like a witch hunt to me. Southern Company is a power company. Do you think that only quality science is supported with public tax money? Most research is privately funded. Get real.

Also...where is the scientific critique of what he said? Using logical fallacies to attack someone is childish.

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