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The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon


In recent weeks, Dr. Wei-Hock Soon, a distinguished solar astrophysicist, coauthored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates an important work of original scholarship in the Science Bulletin (previously titled Chinese Science Bulletin), a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three. The article has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, a huge number for a peer-reviewed journal article.


You might expect environmentalists, policymakers, and reporters to celebrate this new finding, since it means a potential threat to the environment and human health has been found to be less likely than previously thought. If the work of Soon et al. is confirmed by other scientists, the “global warming crisis” may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.

But this is not how environmentalists and others reacted. Instead, they denounced the article, often apparently without even having read it or understood it. [See here, here, and here.] Christopher Monckton, one of the article’s coauthors, ably defended the article from these criticisms. Having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.

Forecast the Facts – a creepy front group created by the left-of-center Center for American Progress to attack meteorologists who don’t toe the environmentalists’ line on global warming – launched  a petition to the Smithsonian Institution demanding that Dr. Soon be fired. They claim to have more than 20,000 signatures on it.

The petition is brief:

 Dr. Willie Soon — an astrophysicist employed by the Smithsonian — is a go-to “scientist” for climate deniers in Congress, despite his lack of climate credentials. Worse yet, he’s received research grants exclusively from fossil fuel companies and dark money groups since 2002.

Now The Boston Globe is reporting that Soon just published a paper on climate change without disclosing his fossil fuel funding — a violation of the journal’s ethics code and a no-no in the science community.

Tell the Smithsonian: Don’t lend your good name to fossil fuel-funded climate denial. Drop Dr. Willie Soon.

The claim that Dr. Soon lacks “climate credentials” is false and meant to harm his reputation. Dr. Soon is a distinguished astrophysicist with many published articles in peer-reviewed climate science journals. A bio at lists many publications and awards and features this quotation from Freeman Dyson, one of the world’s most respected physicists: “The whole point of science is to question accepted dogmas. For that reason, I respect Willie Soon as a good scientist and a courageous citizen.’’

Forecast the Facts’ second lie is more serious, because alleging a violation of professional ethics is taken seriously in the academy. Dr. Soon and his coauthors told the editor of Science Bulletin,  “None of the authors has received funding from any source for this work. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.”

The petition misrepresents a Boston Globe article which reported only that an environmental group “accused” Dr. Soon and his coauthors of failing to report possible conflicts of interest to the journal’s editor. The petition fails to tell potential signers that the article quoted Soon’s coauthor, Christopher Monckton, vigorously refuting the claim. It also fails to note the reporter said the Science Bulletin had not responded to a request for comment, so he had no way of knowing whether there was a “violation of the journal’s ethics code.”

We have reviewed the Science Bulletin’s  policy regarding disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and the coauthors’ letter to the editor explaining their decision to declare no conflicts of interest. We believe the coauthors were correct and there was no violation of the journal’s ethics code.

The phrasing of this petition is plainly misleading, making it meaningless regardless of how many people are fooled into signing it. It should immediately be withdrawn and a public apology extended to Dr. Soon.

Regrettably, this fake petition is typical of the tactics used by the left in the global warming debate. Good men like Dr. Soon and his coauthors are being demeaned, threatened, and their careers put at risk by organizations and individuals that rarely get named, much less criticized, in the mainstream media.

That’s wrong and ought to change.

Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute and Joseph A. Morris is a lawyer who has fought in several countries to defend free speech.

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