Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research


Inside Climate News has the article Documents Reveal Fossil Fuel Fingerprints on Contrarian Climate Research.

The gist of the article is in the caption to their cover photo.

Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, is honored by the Heartland Institute at its annual event of global warming denialism. Newly released documents show that Soon has collected more than $1 million in funding from fossil fuel interests in recent years, told fossil fuel executives his papers are “deliverables” in return for their funding, and granted a major utility pre-publication review and anonymity.

I think there are similarities between the contract that Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Willie Soon had with American Petroleum Institute (API), Southern Co., ExxonMobil, the Charles Koch Foundation, and others and what I used to see in my industry’s contracts with Universities.  In the case of the semiconductor industry’s support of university research, I was not aware of blatant attempts to influence international government policy by controls on what was published.  However, the point of the funding was to promote research in areas that would help the companies’ future success.  Of course, in those days, there was also very significant funding from DARPA (the USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration).  So whatever defense industry needs were provided a tad of counter balance (perhaps) for what the general semiconductor industry wanted.

The fundamental difference between this petroleum research and the semiconductor research that I experienced is that the semiconductor industry had a fundamental desire to figure out how things worked and how to produce software to help design integrated circuits.  Our industry did not have any need nor desire to disprove someone else’s science.

That is not to say that we didn’t suspect some companies of publishing the results of their own internal research only when they had already moved on to better technology and methods.

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