Editor’s Note: As reported by Breitbart News, the New York Times over the weekend ran a hit piece on astrophysicist Willie Soon, pressuring his superiors, Charles R. Alcock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center and W. John Kress of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, to punish him after the publication of a peer-reviewed paper debunking climate models that predict carbon dioxide will lead to catastrophic global warming.
Two of Soon’s peers, Bob Carter and Lord Christopher Monckton, have each written letters to Dr. Alcock and other colleagues of Soon’s, defending his professional integrity against the misleading charges brought by NYT authors Justin Gillis and John Schwartz. We reprint these letters here with the permission of their authors.
Dear Dr Alcock,
I was horrified to read yesterday the defamatory articles about Willie Soon written by reporters for the New York Times and the Guardian, and now spilling on to various web publications and blogs.
From the outside it is very clear that the attack on Willie is being co-ordinated, probably by the same persons who have sought to muddy his name in the past – Greenpeace being a prime suspect in this regard.
The accusations that Willie’s funding sources dictate what he writes in his research papers are of course untrue; as they would also be untrue if alleged against the many other distinguished scientists that you employ whose funding is derived from external sources.
Despite the transparency of the attack as a co-ordinated attempt at character assassination, I realise that as the senior executive involved you will probably have no choice but to instigate a review of the matter, consulting closely with Willie to make sure that his side of the issue receives due weight and consideration.
In such circumstances, would you please furnish the Chairperson of any Committee with the following assessment of Willie, which is extracted from a recent reference that I wrote for him:
The respect accorded to Willie Soon’s public contributions to the climate change debate stems from the rigorous professional and personal standards that he sets in his presentations and writing. Having read many of his written articles, and attended several of his plenary lectures, I can attest that Willie is scrupulous in attending to the basic scientific veracity of everything that he presents in public about scientific matters. He is careful not only in that regard, but also in the attention he pays to drawing reasonable and balanced conclusions, and in rigorously eschewing the unfortunate ad hominem arguments that too often characterize public “debate” about human-caused climate change.
In essence, Willie Soon is a highly original, laterally thinking and communicative solar physicist who epitomizes the balanced theoretical-empirical, agnostic approach that all scientists should apply to scientific issues that relate to societal matters. Seen from overseas, he forms part of a quartet with Fred Singer, Richard Lindzen and Roy Spencer – as an equal member of the four U.S. climate scientists who are most respected by their international peers for the unfailing intelligence, insightfulness and independence of their cogent views on the difficult climate change issue.
If one wanted to sum up Willie Soon in a single sentence, it would be that he radiates scientific expertise, obeisance to empirical data, enthusiasm, commitment to communication, concern for both scientific and personal integrity and good humour in roughly equal measure.
I stand fully by those words, and note that it follows that the current media attack upon Dr Soon is repugnant.
Having reassured itself of the essential facts of the matter, it is surely the duty of the Smithsonian Institute to defend the reputation and honor of a scientist of such outstanding ability, integrity and courage.
The New York Times and other papers that have published the false accusations should be asked to withdraw them.
Professor Robert (Bob) M. Carter
FAIMM, Hon. Fellow RSNZ
Emeritus Fellow, Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne
Lord Monckton’s letter begins here.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am the lead author of the paper Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model, published last month in the Science Bulletin, the journal of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was one of my three distinguished co-authors. I understand that Dr Alcock has written to all of you to say that he proposes to investigate allegations that Dr Soon failed to disclose a supposed “conflict of interest” in that he had in the past received but had not disclosed grants from fossil-fuel interests to further his studies into the influence of solar variability on terrestrial climate.
Let me contribute to Dr Alcock’s enquiry by providing the following information:
Our paper had nothing to do with any of the specific projects in relation to the Sun-climate connection for which Dr Soon has in the past been grant-funded. Its subject-matter was not the influence of the Sun on the Earth’s climate; instead, our paper (available at scibull.com and click the link to “Most-read articles”, where our paper is the all-time no. 1) presented an irreducibly simple climate-sensitivity model that allows anyone to select his or her own parameters and to reach a respectable determination of climate sensitivity in minutes on nothing more elaborate than a pocket calculator.
Dr Soon first kindly wrote to me some eight years ago to raise with me some scientific points arising from a popular article on climate sensitivity that I had published in the London Sunday Telegraph. Over the years he has been kind enough to correct many errors in my scientific understanding and to give me instruction in the elements of climatological physics. It is largely thanks to his generous assistance that I acquired enough knowledge to draft our paper for the Science Bulletin. He was, therefore, a worthy co-author who had earned his name on the paper over eight patient years, and without any financial reward at any stage.
Neither Dr Soon nor any of the authors of our paper received a single penny for our months of work preparing the paper and then answering some very detailed and helpful questions from our three anonymous peer-reviewers. I greatly admire Dr Soon for his courage in being ready to follow wherever the science may lead.
It is apparent that the well-funded, highly-organized, concerted campaign of hatred and libelous vilification against Dr Soon has a rankly political motive. Certainly, as you will see from the attached note of the various instaquotes from rent-by-the-hour climate “scientists”, their attempts to attack the science in our paper have been remarkably insubstantial, unmeritorious and too often intellectually dishonest. Once it became apparent to climate campaigners that the science in the paper was uncongenial to their political position and not at all easy to refute, they began what has become an all-out campaign of hate-speech, libel and innuendo against Dr Soon.
I am particularly grateful to Ms Pulliam for her public statement that the Harvard-Smithsonian believes that scientists should enjoy academic freedom to reach their own conclusions, and that one cannot merely assume that a scientist who has received a grant from a corporation or other interest will in any way tailor his findings to please his funders.
Dr Soon is of course deeply hurt by the baseless allegations made against him. I hope that you will all do your best to support him until the police and the courts have dealt firmly with the offenses and libels of his malicious detractors.
–The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley