Leading Climate Change Denier Exposed for Taking $1.25 Million from Koch Brothers, Big Oil Companies

willie-soonDecades ago, big tobacco tried to claim that smoking was safe. They had scientists and doctors who would publicly testify that smoking was not harmful. Hell, there were “doctor-recommended cigarettes.” Though it’s clear now that these “medical and scientific experts” were nothing more than people who had been paid by big tobacco to use their scientific and medical backgrounds to support their “smoking is safe” propaganda.

Of course when looking at it today, after big tobacco has been hammered with massive fines and smoking has been rightfully labeled as extremely unhealthy, most people would laugh at anyone who would try to claim that smoking isn’t dangerous.

Well, in my opinion, that’s exactly what we’re seeing today when it comes to climate deniers. Big oil and energy companies are pumping billions of dollars into campaigns built on pure propaganda and finding any random “experts” who have legitimate credentials in the scientific community to give them a guise of “legitimacy” to their “climate change is a hoax” rhetoric.

Just like those “experts” did for big tobacco decades ago.

Now comes news that one of these “leading experts” against human-made climate change, Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, has been exposed by Greenpeace for accepting around $1.25 million over the last 14 years from various oil and energy companies like Exxon and the American Petroleum Institute, which is a foundation of the Koch brothers.

The documents reveal that almost all of Soon’s funding for “research” had been provided by the fossil fuel industry.

“The question here is really: ‘What did API, ExxonMobil, Southern Company and Charles Koch see in Willie Soon? What did they get for $1m-plus?,” asked Kert Davies, a former Greenpeace researcher.

“Did they simply hope he was on to research that would disprove the consensus? Or was it too enticing to be able to basically buy the nameplate Harvard-Smithsonian?,” he continued.

Which is exactly what they did. They found someone with decent credentials who would take their money and say pretty much what they wanted him to say. Being that the fossil fuel industry would stand to lose out on untold billions of dollars if this planet ever truly became mostly dependent on wind and solar energy, it’s blatantly obvious that these companies are doing everything they can to push the idea that human activity isn’t leading to climate change.

And it’s worked because Soon has been used and quoted by Republicans in Congress to help perpetuate the lie that climate change fueled by humans is a hoax. For the record, he believes climate change is caused by the sun, not humans.

It still baffles me that there are people who distrust scientists who have almost nothing to gain by making up data about climate change (they could always study another field) – yet trust big oil companies spending billions of dollars trying to discredit these scientists all because they would stand to lose out on obscene amounts of money if humans ever moved away from fossil fuels as our primary source of energy.

That’s like believing a burglar who says they never broke into someone’s home instead of a large group of independent witnesses who claim that they saw them break into the house.

But, sadly, millions of conservatives have been ignorant enough to fall for the lies being pushed by these big oil companies and the billions of dollars they’ve spent trying to discredit overwhelmingly accepted science.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Avatar

    It doesn’t matter because Koch brothers’ houses around the world are fitted with solar panels, hydro, wind, and advanced batteries that make their homes completely off the grid.

    Koch brothers are biggest hypocrites walking on this world. They want to be the kings of the kings and screw the rest.

  • sherry06053

    My question is, why are we just figuring this out now? Isn’t this obvious? Hasn’t anyone checked the background of ALL of the deniers? If Congress listened while this guy testified, then they knew what he was going to say and wanted to hear it – because they are also receiving money from the oil industry. How about if someone does the research and discredit or expose these people BEFORE they testify in Congress or are used as credible “experts”? We don’t do anyone a service by complaining about them after they have already done damage. This is exactly the reason the Koch brothers and oil companies have so much power. They are devious and no one is asking questions, doing research or following the money.

    • klem

      “Hasn’t anyone checked the background of ALL of the deniers?”

      Um, by deniers, are you referring to those people who deny the 18 year plateau in global temperatures?

      You mean those science deniers?

      • sherry06053

        Um…yeah…obviously. Isn’t what this whole article is about?

      • BobJThompson


        “The 10 warmest years in the instrumental record, with the exception of 1998, have now occurred since 2000. This trend continues a long-term warming of the planet, according to an analysis of surface temperature measurements by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

        In an independent analysis of the raw data, also released Friday, NOAA scientists also found 2014 to be the warmest on record.”

      • klem

        This is what the NOAA says about the non-existent plateau:

        “The most likely explanation for the lack of significant warming at the Earth’s surface in the past decade or so is that natural climate cycles—a series of La Niña events and a negative phase of the lesser-known Pacific Decadal Oscillation….”

        “The “pause” in global warming observed since 2000 followed a period of rapid acceleration in the late 20th century. .. Since the turn of the century, however, the change in Earth’s global mean surface temperature has been close to zero.”

        See Bobbie, even the NOAA had to admit to the existence of the “lack of warming” or “pause” or “global mean surface temperature has been close to zero”. Whatever you happen to call it.

        And sorry, but even if 2014 was really the warmest on record, it still wasn’t warm enough to break the plateau.

        Ouch, that’s gotta hurt, huh Bobbie?

        Thanks for playing.

      • BobJThompson

        Yet from their “plateau” article that you quoted…

        “The deep ocean may have been able to “hide” excess heat trapped in the Earth system by greenhouse gases, contributing to the warming “pause” in the last decade, but scientists know that heat energy doesn’t just disappear. Eventually, natural ocean circulation may bring some of the extra heat stored in the deep ocean back to the surface, which can happen during an El Niño event, for example.

        Meanwhile, other environmental indicators of climate change—melting ice in Greenland, the retreat of Arctic sea ice, global sea level rise—continue to send a clear signal that Earth is still warming. Over the coming century, human-caused warming will continue, with natural variability periodically speeding up or slowing down the pace from decade to decade.”


        Thanks for playing.

      • Salty Elbows

        Oh fantastic, the median surface temp has hit a plateau for about half of a generation, tell me more about how short-sighted your endangered tribe is?

  • klem

    Um, what a misleading headline. He took $1.25 million over 14 years, that’s only $89k per year. That’s peanuts for a phD researcher, there are plenty of scientists who earn over $1 million a year.

    You’re making a fuss over nothing, and making yourself look idiotic in the proces. It’s pathetic.

    • Eg Kbbs

      klem, although there are scientists who are funded for over a million a year – this money pays for their laboratory and research. They don’t take it home.

      And even at that, researchers even getting a million a year for research are rare.

    • BobJThompson

      Citing a rejection of his unusual viewpoints in attempts to solicit government funding for his research, Dr. Soon has declared he no longer asks government agencies for grants, and hasn’t since 2004.

      “I can assure you, I am severely underpaid.”
      “Since 2004. have not received a single penny from the government. […] Since 2004, I’m unable and then…first unable then I decided to not take even the money anymore, because it’s just very bad for me. My own personal viewpoint–to take money from government to do such work. So I’ve been trying to get funding from whoever, you know, foundation–anybody wants to give me money. Coal, anything–I don’t care. Really, I don’t. I don’t, because I know that I’m not being influenced by money.”

      – Michigan State News interview with Willie Soon (astrophysicist)

      Plenty of information at this link. Including how much he was paid for each paper. http://www.polluterwatch.com/willie-soon

      Btw if a million dollars over 10 years (not 14) is a pittance, it is a pittance that many would take.

    • MiddleClass

      If you get beyond your fury re: the headline – The fuss is over his conclusion that the sun did it. BTW – the sun didn’t do it:


      and also see


  • Pipercat

    There is a thin line between being skeptical of the skepticism and character assassination. Dr. Soon may very well be an API shill; however, going after the scientist and not his science is from the same playbook as the climate change skeptic’s overlords. Dr. Soon asserts that the sun is the reason for recent climate data. Great! Publish a paper in a respected journal, have it peer reviewed and the rest will attend to itself. Were Dr. Soon gets his funding is irrelevant.

    The API and it’s constituent parts are very science heavy. From geology to chemistry, all the way to engineering. They know the science is valid and instead of going after the science, they go after the scientists. Create enough FUD and the legislation to curtail carbon pollution can be delayed for as long as possible. After seeing what this FUD can do to an individual, honest and ethical scientist, all I can say is, good luck Dr. Soon.