The Vicious Politics of Global Warming Research

soon wHardened as I am to political correctness, I still cannot believe that the Chronicle of Higher Education would direct such a vicious and unwarranted attack against a scientist for being on the wrong side of the climate-change issue as it did this morning.

The Chronicle article by Paul Basken is dripping with arrogance and disdain for someone who doesn’t go along with government-paid “experts.” He writes: “Years of using a Harvard nameplate to flog his insistence that polar bears are doing fine, and that sunspots might explain planetary warming better than the Industrial Revolution does, may finally have caught up with Wei-Hock Soon.”

What did Dr. Soon do to receive this ugly sneer?

First, he described himself as an affiliate of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics—which he is! “In a series of scientific-journal articles over the past decade, Mr. Soon has routinely listed himself as representing ‘the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics'” writes Basken. According to Basken, the center is mostly just a “shared set of physical facilities” and Soon is employed by the Smithsonian part of the center, not the Harvard part.

Strangely, though, this minimization of Harvard’s role does not appear on the first-page description of the website of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, which says: “The CfA is a collaboration of Harvard College Observatory (HCO) and Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and home to Harvard’s Department of Astronomy.” 

But Soon’s supposed overreach is only the beginning of his sins. Even worse, he obtained money from private groups that included “the energy conglomerate Southern Company, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and Donors Trust, a fund for anonymous contributions identified by a 2013 Drexel University study as the largest single provider of money to political efforts to fight climate-change policy.”

Yes, he did. He  received from private funders $1.2 million over 10 years (that’s, on average, $120,000 a year, right?) And more than half of it went to the Smithsonian’s overhead. This should be compared to the estimated $8.7 billion that the government spent on global warming in one year (2010).

How can the Chronicle publish this stuff?