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Another witchhunt

So the usual suspects in the green-tinged media are running another of their witchhunts. This time they have returned to the attack against Willie Soon, with the New York Times' Justin Gillis and the Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg in the front line.

As far as I can see, the story is that Soon and three co-authors published a paper on climate sensitivity. At the same time (or perhaps in the past - this being a smear-job it's hard to get at the facts) he was being funded by to do work on things like the solar influence on climate by people that greens feel are the baddies. They and the greens feel he should have disclosed that baddies were paying him to do stuff on a  paper that was not funded by the baddies.

I guess you can make a case that he should have done, but I'm struggling to get very excited about it as a transgression.

And as a fairly ugly attempt to poison the well the articles in the New York Times and the Guardian are an indictment of the standards at those once respected publications. Their failure to discuss the contents of the Soon paper speaks volumes.

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Reader Comments (109)

Would any one care to remind me what part of scientific process smear jobs are?
Its the Soon paper has problems they why not state them , meanwhile has ever with this fanatics they consider it perfectly OK for people on their own side to take money and do for for anyway , even if its industries that could profit from the 'right result. And the fun part is that it often the same sources for which Soon and others are attacked for taken money from .
Not merely hypocrisy but mega-hypocrisy.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

It is very hard to get excited by anything written by second rate journos like Goldenberg and Gillis.

Perhaps they should star in a detective series on telly.......Goldenberg and Gillis P.I. perhaps.

Any other suggestions?

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

William Briggs has been asking reporters to question the physics or even if they have subjected other science papers to the same level of scrutiny by checking if forms have been filled in correctly.

Can I really hear crickets in February? ;)

p.s. his questions to the reporters on their bias are pure gold.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterCraigM350ppm

Get used to it Bish- Advertising happens, and Willie is bent as any Green hack who gets paid to write crap anti-frakking papers for D-list journals in the service of the party line.

Soon's problem is that his contract with Southern Energy gives them the right to preview and review the science in what he terms his 'deliverables'.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Without evidence that is also a smear.
So can you provide some evidence that "his contract with Southern Energy gives them the right to preview and review the science" and that there has been any attempt to distort the science as a result?
Put up or shut up.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:24 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Guardian's Suzanne Goldenberg has shown many times that she is prepared to write anything to attack the skeptics who dare speak out. It is amazing that anyone reads her rubbish!

Since the BBC buys more than 3% of the Guardian circulation - nice to see the licence fee supporting this newspaper. The other papers the BBC buys only ~ 1% of their circulation.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Mike will find the details at

It's a fair cop too-- Willie was rumbled by the Freedom pf Information Act and is currently being roasted by the Smithsonian Astrophysicsl Observatory for both his corporate canoodling and violating the disclosure policies of a half dozen scientific journals.

Still, I think Doctor Johnson might appaud his motovation !

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell
Briggs responds to the Gillis smears.

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Do your searches elsewhere on big oil funding for greens. It is massive and many times larger than for sceptics. You see, funding sceptics has no value for large companies or even small one come to that. The big money is currently in green. Wind, Solar and climate research are sucking up $billions from BP, Soros, Chevron, Shell etc.

The important thing is to focus on the science and not the ad hom.

How does an increase of 0.0001 moles of an all controlling gas over several hundred years (your science not mine) warm the planet dangerously, for instance. Why is climate science the only 'science' to alter data after the fact ? for instance. etc.

Feb 22, 2015 at 12:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Of course! I should have realised that if you are a Greenpeace supporter anyone who gets funding from one of your blacklisted organisations has a conflict of interest.
I'm still waiting for the evidence that the science was wrong.
Of course (again) if you dare to suggest that anything other than the current Greenpeace-permitted world view might have some credibility you will get roundly condemned by the green blob.
Soooo sorry if things don't always go their way but then life's a bitch, innit.

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Russell care to explain the magical process by which the 'fossil-fuel-fingerprints' of money that has poured into the IPCC, CRU etc becomes free of any 'taint'
Meanwhile what errors where in Soon's work ?

Feb 22, 2015 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

Russell - I see you have a website VATSupwiththat. Is that something to do with brewing beer?

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterOtter (ClimateOtter on Twitter)

"Would any one care to remind me what part of scientific process smear jobs are?"

Must be, since the same day those two newspaper articles appeared (Saturday Feb. 21), there was also a "breaking news" item at the science journal NATURE, penned by one Jeff Tollefson.

I don't recall ever seeing this journal publish anything on a weekend before, so it must be really important to science.

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterSusan Crockford

"Once respected publications" Bish? You must have a long memory.

Feb 22, 2015 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Worth remembering that the HSBC Beano (Guardian) promoted global warming because HSBC, Shell and other carbon traders gave them huge advertising revenue.

Climategate: George Monbiot, the Guardian and Big Oil - James Delingpole

But who is it that sponsors the Guardian?s Environment pages and eco conferences? Why, only that famous non-fossil-fuel company Shell. (Though I notice their logo no longer appears on top of the Guardian?s eco pages: has the Guardian decided the relationship was just too embarrassing to be, er, sustainable?)

And which company has one of the largest carbon trading desks in London, cashing in on industry currently worth around $120 billion ? an industry which could not possibly exist without pan-global governmental CO2 emissions laws ? BP (which stands for British Petroleum)

And how much has Indian steel king Lakshmi Mittal made from carbon credits thanks to Europe?s Emissions Trading Scheme? £1 billion.

And which companies were the CRU scientists revealed cosying up to as early as 2000 in the Climategate emails? There?s a clue in this line here: ?Had a very good meeting with Shell yesterday.?

And how much was Phil Jones, director of the discredited CRU, found to have collected in grants since 1990? £13.7 million ($22.7 million)

And why does this Executive Vice-Chairman of Rothschild?s bank sound so enthusiastic in this (frankly terrifying) letter about the prospects of the ?new world order? (his phrase not mine) which result from globally regulated carbon trading?

Or why not try this blog, in which a German Green party MP is revealed being given hefty donations by a solar power company?

Or how about this tiny $7o million donation to the climate change industry from the Rockefeller Foundation?

Feb 22, 2015 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Russell, You have set the bar too high.
There were four authors of the paper. They all have received funding from fossil fuel companies.
As has the UEA CRU. If ever having been funded by fossil fuel companies means discarding the science then the entire IPCC reports need to be scrapped.

Do you claim the IPCC has no valid science?
Or, like Greenpeace, do you claim that the non-white author is the one with no valid science.

We see the way they have picked one rule for the UEA and the other authors and another rule for Dr Soon.

Feb 22, 2015 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

one Jeff Tollefson.

Feb 22, 2015 at 3:55 PM | Susan Crockford

The link to Briggs provided above by CraigM includes an email exchange with Tollefson. Worth the read. :) The sad bit is having to shared the planet with such people.

Feb 22, 2015 at 4:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterMickJ

The incoming flack means the paper was on target.
The irreducibly simple equation with IPCC values for four parameters and very defensible (from observation/model variances in AR5) f subt values around 0.25 to 0.3 produces am effective climate sensitivity of 1.7-1.8, matching the values Lewis and Curry derived using only IPCC inputs.
And with these two very different methods reaching the same result, the CAGW game is over.

Feb 22, 2015 at 5:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

The hypocrisy is stunning, or would be In saner world. T

Feb 22, 2015 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered Commenterpokerguy

Typical Gruandad and NYT. Ignore the facts.
Smear the messenger.

They are really scraping the bottom.

Feb 22, 2015 at 6:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Rud says: "The incoming flack means the paper was on target." - and that gives me an idea for Josh:

The 'Team' (like keen, spotty, short-trousered schoolboys?) are trying to fly their (cough) model aircraft, which are so poorly constructed they can't get off the ground - or, if they do, they crash and burn. But then, out of the midday sun, along comes the Legates-Briggs-Monckton-Soon (not a euphemism!) model (think, Lancaster) and it flies so elegantly that the 'Team's' supporters start throwing flak at it - but tail-gunner Briggs gives the Fokkers hell while Monckton flies over the Moner dam journos.

Feb 22, 2015 at 8:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

W Soon of Soon and Baliunas fame (circa 2003)? The "researcher" who caused the mass resignations of editors at Climate Reserach and whose publisher eventually agreed that his paper should not have been published? That one?

Surely not!? The man who of whose work it was written

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless” - Gavin Schmidt (Head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan).

Well well. Now he could be said to be "paid and pointless". You know what amazes me is that the Koch brothers et al should choose to fund him given his past. And that Inhofe chooses to quote him. Do they think people didn't know of his past even before this?

It does not (sadly) amaze me that most on here (Russell apart) rush to his defense with various spurious arguments.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterOnbyaccident

It's just a hit piece to divert attention from the Pachauri scandal.

Our solidarity with Dr. Soon must also extend to the women (if there is one, there are many) assaulted by Pachauri and that, at this very moment, must be under very, very, very intense pressure to drop the charges.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute


The man who of whose work it was written
So English is a second language to you. Such a good job that you have CTL/C-CTL/V to hand.

Feb 22, 2015 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

“The science that Willie Soon does is almost pointless”
Even his opponents admit his work is not entirely pointless - so let's hear the refutation.

Or let's have a moment of silence for the death of Gavin Schmidt's reputation.

(Which happened with that Antarctica warming Nature cover).

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Just put a comment on this blog where I confused Gavin Schmidt with Eric Steig.
I'm an idiot and if the Bishop sees so kindly as to delete my comment to conceal my folly, I would be grateful.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterMCourtney

Mike should direct his ire at the record , in this case , the Times Chronicle of Higher Education

The day before Soon and Baliunas declared their paper in Cimate Research “a powerful new work of science” that would “shiver the timbers of the adrift Chicken Little crowd,” the journal's Editor-in-chief Hans von Storch , resigned to protest deficiencies in the review process that led to its publication.

Two other editors joined him. and Von Storch told The Chronicle of Higher Education that climate science skeptics “had identified Climate Research as a journal where some editors were not as rigorous in the review process as is otherwise common.”

12 other leading climate scientists wrote a blistering critique of Soon and Baliunas’ paper in Eos, the American Geophysical Union weekly condemning Soon & Co/s use of precipitation records to reconstruct past temperatures , a proxy they declared “fundamentally unsound.” in testimony before Congress.

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

A co-ordinated orchestration of major media and activists across the world, just to attack one man, and it wasn't even Edward Snowdon. Scary. Is this what the green blob has become?

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterAntman

It sounds like a St Trinian's hockey game. If you can't get the ball get your opponent. I want warmer weather - old age looms and cold weather kills oldies and the evidence does not support a boiling planet.

Sadly, speaking as a practical scientist, the AGW lot have not only "adjusted" the temperatures but they have also attempted to rewrite history and that is only permissable in complete dictatorships. Or am I missing something?

Feb 22, 2015 at 10:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterDizzy Ringo

It is an object lesson, isn't it Russell?

If you are "one of us", any crime or fraud is ok and we won't say a word about it. For example, see now Pachauri join a long list of dubious characters.

If you are not "one of us", your hands better be so clean that even the made-up crap that's thrown at you won't stick.

It's just political thuggery.

Meanwhile, the climate is not warming as claimed. There are no "food riots", no "millions of deaths", no "apocalypse". It's evident this state of affairs is what is really making you so very angry.

Feb 22, 2015 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Dizzy Ringo's point is well taken.

Brute's is by turns delusional and self-referential.

Feb 23, 2015 at 12:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The evidence for warmer-than-present temps during the MWP have been found world-wide by a large number of scientists over the years, including evidential sites in New Zealand, Antarctica and South America.
The grubby stuff from Russell et al is merely that - grubby, smelly stuff worth nothing. Manure sticks, and Russell and his infantile friends have it all over themselves.

Feb 23, 2015 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Russell --
Out of curiosity, do you agree that the "use of precipitation records to reconstruct past temperatures [is] fundamentally unsound” ?

Feb 23, 2015 at 1:44 AM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

And Russell now denies the charges Pachauri is facing...

Feb 23, 2015 at 1:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

To summarize the case against Willy doing a lobbyist's work for a lobbyists wages :

Do you claim the IPCC has no valid science? And Russell now denies the charges Pachauri is facing..The grubby stuff from Russell et al is merely that - grubby, smelly stuff worth nothing. Manure sticks, and Russell and his infantile friends have it all over themselves.Our solidarity with Dr. Soon must also extend to the women (if there is one, there are many) assaulted by Pachauri . Or, like Greenpeace, do you claim that the non-white author is the one with no valid science.Russell .Of course! I should have realised that if you are a Greenpeace supporter anyone who gets funding from one of your blacklisted organisations has a conflict of interest.

What? No cannibalism ?

Feb 23, 2015 at 2:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

As with Mann and Gavin Schmidt, you have to watch the pea with Russell Seitz.

Seitz writes: "12 other leading climate scientists wrote a blistering critique of Soon and Baliunas’ paper in Eos, the American Geophysical Union weekly condemning Soon & Co/s use of precipitation records to reconstruct past temperatures , a proxy they declared “fundamentally unsound.” in testimony before Congress."

In fact, it was Mann - not Soon - who actually used "precipitation records" to reconstruct past temperatures. By yelling loudly, Mann and Seitz have tricked the public on this issue. In addition to precipitation proxies, Mann used actual instrumental precipitation records to reconstruct past temperature. Oddly, Mann's geographic locations of his instrumental precipitation records were nearly all incorrect. Thus the rain supposedly located in Maine used the precipitation history from Paris, France. The precipitation record attributed to the Madras, India gridcell appears to come from Philadelphia.

Unlike Mann, Soon did not use precipitation to "reconstruct past temperature", Soon examined precipitation proxies to see whether the 20th century levels were extreme (hockey stick shaped), concluding that they weren't. Many of the proxies considered in Soon et al were later incorporated into proxy networks of Graham et al 2010, Seager et al 2007. The earliest draft of AR5, citing such studies, stated, using terminology reminiscent of Soon:

overall, multiple studies suggest that current drought and flood regimes are not unusual within the context of the last 1000 years

One of the single most despicable exchanges in Climategate in my opinion was Tom Wigley writing to Mann in the lead-up to the EOS 2003 article:

Mike, Well put! By chance SB03 may have got some of these precip things right, but we don't want to give them any way to claim credit.

Wigley and Mann succeeded in that effort. Abetted by people Russell Seitz. The persecution of WIllie Soon by the academic community has been shameful.

There are further details on this persecution in the CG3 dossier that have not yet been publicized.

Feb 23, 2015 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Which brings us back to the "work" of Gillis and Goldenberg (abetted by people like Russell), that is, a hit piece to divert attention from the the Pachauri scandal.

A second woman has now come forward.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

Gee Russell, are you sure you disclosed that your work from 1985 to 1991 at Harvard's Center For International Affairs was funded by munitions and chemical profits of Olin Industries?

As the sponsoring John M. Olin Foundation objective was to "preserve the free market system", are you sure your work was not influenced in any way?

On second thought, Olin may want his money back.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:17 AM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Steve should aim his peashooter at Science and Nature whose reporters have delved further into the matter than he may like.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Here is the really inconvenient truth. The global warming 'movement' is largely funded by the fossil fuel industry. Naomi Klein is rather more politically astute than the average computer model jockey.

The whole affair, according to Klein, underlines a painful truth behind the “catastrophic failure” of some environmental organisations to combat the fossil-fuel industries responsible for soaring greenhouse gas emissions. “Large parts of the movement aren’t actually fighting those interests – they have merged with them,” she writes, pointing to green groups that have accepted fossil-fuel industry donations or partnerships and invited industry executives on to their boards.

It is no coincidence, suggests Klein, that several environmental organisations have also championed climate policies that are the least burdensome to the energy industry, including generously designed carbon markets and the use of natural gas as a bridge to a cleaner energy system.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:34 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

Imagine the contract for the future of the planet was given to Future Corp. They want a sub contractor for accurate climate forecasts. Do you think they would give it to the clowns of the climate science community ?

I observed an on line discussion between Pielke Senior and Gavin Schmidt. There was serious disagreement on basic principles. I walked right out of the circus shaking my head. That isn't a criticism of either of the two gentleman or anyone else, but this act isn't ready for prime time.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:53 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

How ironic to see Russell's reference "Climate Insider" re-puffing The Union of Concerned (mostly not) Scientists report decrying:
"..activists, companies, and lobbying groups..using... laws—designed to promote transparency—to harass academic researchers they disagree with.." on Friday the 13th of February no less.

Feb 23, 2015 at 3:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

Willie Soon is innocent in all probability. Since he has always said all the correct declarations have always been made, it would be very strange for contrary info not to have already come out. So it's bad that Bish and Pielke Jr both now say "oh maybe Soon did something wrong"
- It appears to be the same allegation that the Guardian published in 2011 then later corrected

“I got something wrong abt Willie Soon. I suggested he’d never declared his fossil fuel funding. Unlike many, it turns out he has. Apologies” tweeted George Monbiot
the correction was made after Soon complained to the Press Complaints Commission

Feb 23, 2015 at 4:18 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Were the anonymous betapug to actually read what he pretends to cite he would discover

!. my publications at Harvard's Center For International Affairs were primarily critical of the polemic abuse of global climate models by Carl Sagan's cohort , including the Union of Concerned Scientists.

2. The Olin Institute is about as subservient to the ammunition industry as the Rockefeller Foundation to Exxon

It is sad to see erstwhile free market advocates emulate communitarians in putting their scientific crediibility at risk by playing such games.

Feb 23, 2015 at 4:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The utterly contemptible slime of the climate hype obsessed press.

Feb 23, 2015 at 4:45 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Seitz raised the issue of whether Soon et al had incorrectly used precipitation proxies. I showed that it was Mann who had used precipitation data to reconstruct temperatures and that Tom Wigley had been aware that Soon had a point on precipitation proxies but wanted to ensure that Soon received no credit.

In response, Seitz says that Science and Nature reporter have "delved" into the matter more thoroughly than I have. The possibility of such reporters having delved into proxies more thoroughly than me surely ought to seem improbable even to my most severe critics. And indeed, Seitz' links have nothing to do with precipitation proxies and do not rebut a single comma in my earlier comment.

Seitz' comments about precipitation proxies are worthless and should be disregarded.

If Seitz had any actual honor, he would have condemned the actions taken by Wigley and Mann against Soon. But I guess that honor is too much to expect from him.

Feb 23, 2015 at 4:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

The Rockefeller Foundation is an extension of Exxon, the Ford Foundation is an extension of Ford and the (green) Pew Foundation is an extension of arguably the most right wing family in American history, the Pews, owners of Sunoco Oil. They also funded the creepy BAP that put Tony Blair in power.

Here is another Naomi Klein article for a better insight into how these elite folks are a lot smarter than the average bear.


Well, I think there is a very a deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it's been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we've lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union's emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it's disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right.

The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it's going to bankrupt us, it's handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it's not going to work. And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn't going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions

Feb 23, 2015 at 4:57 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

I am disappointed,in the input of most skeptics here "It's not fair the Climate MAFIA scientists break rules all the time and the Climate MAFIA press don't say anything ! They should be reporting the anti-mafia good work"
They are the freakin MAFIA of course their media pets don't apply the same rules that they apply to a Climate science DETECTIVES like Willie Soon. It's tough he has to have a higher standard .
- Now it is different to 2011 as at the end of dirt digging the Greenpeace front org have got
1. A WS contract email with the possibly, questionable words like "deliverables"
2. They, got a quote from A Smithsonian boss that says it could be a conflict of interest . (ask a hundred times and you are bound to get usuable quote one time)
- Next what they could have done is handed the evidence over, and kept quiet for a month so as not to prejudice any inquiry. They chose instead to hype like crazy .....dingaling ! Yes its easy to stoke doubt, when there is an information vacuum. It reeks at a kangaroo court of trial by media cos they know a prpper inquiry wont be so damming. Maybe full rebutall cannot be issued to the media before an inquiry?

- Contexts : it's not $1.2m into Soon's pocket over 10 years as The Smithsonian get 40% straight away and much the rest is research costs.
- Surely Smithsonian had already OKed the contract. And some of their staff would have been in a ppsition to raise an alarm if a conflict of interest arose ..they,cant have been blind to the other contracts and papers.

Feb 23, 2015 at 6:28 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

BREAKING: Smithsonian Will Soon Fire Willy 'Sun' Soon

Feb 23, 2015 at 6:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterSmithsonian

It is indeed an honor to be attacked alongside Hans von Storch, but Steven McIntyre gives me too much credit-- the center of expertise and scientific gravitas in this case is the Climate Research editorial board that resigned in protest over Soon et al.

I am more disposed to credit his judgement than the collective taste in climate proxies of mining statisticians and astrophysicists.

Feb 23, 2015 at 7:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

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