Monday, February 23, 2015

On climate, Ron Johnson's defender at center of ethical storm

[Updated from 12:25 a.m. Sunday] Wisconsin's Tea Partier Ron Johnson made waves in his 2010 US Senate race when he said sunspot activity and not human-created greenhouse gas emissions were responsible for climate change.

Eight scientists, led by Willie Soon, shortly thereafter came to Johnson's defense in a public letter in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. They said Johnson's argument pointing to natural causation for climate change was "correct."

And they added that the human-caused climate change conclusion reached by the thousands of scientists working under the coordination of the United Nations was a political statement disproved by "objective science" and "peer-review" publications. 

Leading conservative climate change deniers in the Senate and on talk radio continue to cite Soon's.

Soon, an aerospace engineer affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution is the subject of a long investigative piece in today's New York Times that documents his failure to disclose as required to scientific journals that published his articles his receipt of funding from fossil fuel-related sources, including a foundation tied to Charles Koch:  

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.
The documents show that Dr. Soon, in correspondence with his corporate funders, described many of his scientific papers as “deliverables” that he completed in exchange for their money. 
Ironic, isn't it, that right-wingers have long attacked scientists whose work affirms a link between human activity and climate change as money-grubbing grant-writers.

The Times could not reach Soon for comment, but did find experts who discount the value of his work.
Gavin A. Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, a NASA division that studies climate change, said that the sun had probably accounted for no more than 10 percent of recent global warming and that greenhouse gases produced by human activity explained most of it. 
“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless,” Dr. Schmidt said.


utzinger said...

Thank you for connecting these dots. I came to Wisconsin in 1977 to study solar energy at the UW Solar Energy Laboratory. While I am aware of solar variation in the sun spot cycle and the connection to the mini Ice Age in Elizabethan times. I am also aware of Wei-Hock Soon's questionable claims concerning global warming, brought to my attention when he made a presentation at the University of Wisconsin in 2013. There are many dots that can be connected, including the rapid increase in Wisconsin mining of St Peters sand for tracing (why do you really think the republicans want to gut scientists at the DNR). But here is an issue that you missed. On Thursday the JS PolitiFact published a study of Scott Walker's claim that the cuts to UW System are only 2.5% while most experts claim they are 13%. Dave Umhoefer uses one year of cuts ($150 million) to claim the cuts are only 6.25% and completely ingots the second year of $150 million, 6.25% cuts, completely blowing smoke on the issue. With bullshit claims like this from FOX mimicking Journal Sentinel there is little hope of a respectable University Wisconsin System surviving. Without that and the DNR, we become West Virginia.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing to this story. Heck, dumb ron johnson probably can't even spell the word "ethics" much less define it.