A scientist often cited by climate change deniers, including some members of Congress, failed to disclose that he accepted more than $1.2 million from the fossil-fuel industry over the past decade in most of his scientific papers, according to The New York Times.
In a story published Saturday online, reporters Justin Gillis and John Schwartz said Wei-Hock Soon (also known as Willie Soon), a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has often testified before Congress on his research that claims that variations in the sun’s energy can explain recent global warming trends.
His work is often cited by members of Congress opposing regulations aimed at limiting global warming.
Soon has a doctoral degree in aerospace engineering and is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution, the Times said.
But correspondence between Soon and the corporations that funded him, obtained by the environmental group Greenpeace using the federal Freedom of Information Act, show that Soon described scientific papers as “deliverables” he completed in exchange for money. Soon also used the word “deliverables” to describe testimony he prepared for Congress, the newspaper reported.
The documents were shared by Greenpeace and another group, the Climate Investigations Center, with several news organizations last week.
The newspaper quoted the director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center as saying that Soon’s violation of scientific journal disclosure standards was “inappropriate behavior” and would become “a personnel matter” that the center would have to handle.
Soon has said publicly that corporate ties have not altered his scientific findings, but would not respond to requests for comment from the Times.
This isn’t the first time that documents involving Soon’s research have been released by Greenpeace.
In 2013, the Boston Globe also reported that Soon had received more than $1.2 million from a variety of corporate sources, including Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, a foundation run by the Koch brothers, and the American Petroleum Institute. That information also was obtained from Greenpeace, which had uncovered it in public documents discovered through Freedom of Information Act requests.