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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Survivable IPCC projections are based on science fiction - the reality is much worse

The IPCC's 'Representative Concentration Pathways' are based on fantasy technology that must draw massive volumes of CO2 out of the atmosphere late this century, writes Nick Breeze - an unjustified hope that conceals a very bleak future for Earth, and humanity.

by Nick Breeze, Ecologist, February 27, 2015

It is quite clear that we have no carbon budget whatsoever. The account, far from being in surplus, is horrendously overdrawn. To claim we have a few decades of safely burning coal, oil and gas is an utter nonsense.
The IPPC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) published in their latest report, AR5, a set of 'Representative Concentration Pathways' (RCPs).
These RCPs (see graph, right) consist of four scenarios that project global temperature rises based on different quantities of greenhouse gas concentrations.
The scenarios are assumed to all be linked directly to emissions scenarios. The more carbon we emit then the hotter it gets. 
Currently humanity is on the worst case scenario of RCP 8.5 which takes us to 2 °C warming by mid century and 4 °C warming by the end of the century.
As Professor Schellnhuber, from Potsdam Institute for Climate Research (PIK) said, "the difference between two and four degrees is human civilisation."
In 2009, the International Union of Forest Research Organisations delivered a report to the UN that stated that the natural carbon sink of trees could be lost at a 2.5 °C temperature increase.
The ranges for RCP 4.5 and RCP 6 both take us over 2.5 °C, and any idea that we can survive when the tree sink flips from being a carbon sink to a carbon source is delusional.
Where does this leave us?
Of the four shown RCPs, only one keeps us within the range that climate scientists regard as survivable. This is RCP 2.6, which has a projected temperature range of 0.9 °C to 2.3 °C.
Considering we are currently at 0.85 °C above the preindustrial level of greenhouse gas concentrations, we are already entering the range, and as Professor Martin Rees says: "I honestly would bet, sad though it is, that the annual CO2 emissions are going to rise year by year for at least the next 20 years and that will build up accumulative levels close to 500 parts per million."

The recent US-China agreement supports Rees's contentions. But even if Rees is wrong and we do manage to curtail our carbon emissions, a closer look at RCP 2.6 shows something much more disturbing.
In his image (see graph, right), IPCC SMP Expert Reviewer David Tattershall has inserted vertical red lines to mark the decades between the years 2000 and 2100. Within this 21st century range he has also highlighted a steep decline in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (shown by the steeply declining thick red line).
It is interesting that concerted action for emissions reductions is timed to occur just beyond the date for the implementation of a supposed legally binding international agreement.
Stopping emissions does not reduce atmospheric carbon. The emissions to date are colossal, and the warming effect is delayed by around 40 years. Therefore, even if we halt emissions, we know there is much more warming to come. That will also set off other positive feedbacks along the way that will amplify the warming further, stretching over centuries.
So how does the IPCC achieve these vast reductions in greenhouse gases?
If we look at the vertical red lines, at around 2025, the steep decline in atmospheric greenhouse gases begins. Accumulated emissions not only are reduced to zero in 2070 but actually go negative.
This chart shows that carbon is removed from the atmosphere in quantities of hundreds of billions of tons, for as far ahead as 2300, in order to sustain a temperature increase beneath 2 °C.
What makes this idea of projected large-scale Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) even more perverse is the talk by policymakers of a "carbon budget." This refers to the amount of fossil fuel that can be burned before we are at risk of reaching a 2 °C rise in global mean temperature.
It is quite clear that we have no carbon budget whatsoever. The account, far from being in surplus, is horrendously overdrawn. To claim we have a few decades of safely burning coal, oil and gas is an utter nonsense.
Sequestering billions of tons of carbon for centuries
If all of the above has not raised any alarm bells then perhaps it is time to consider the proposed methods for sucking the billions of tons of carbon out of the atmosphere.
In February 2015, the National Research Council in the United States launched their two reports on "climate interventions." Dr Nutt concluded with this statement on CDR:
"Carbon Dioxide Removal strategies offer the potential to decrease carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, but they are limited right now by their slow response, by their inability to scale up, and their high cost."
Dr Nutt's conclusion points to a very important factor that we can elaborate on with a rare case of certainty. There is no proposed CDR technology that can be scaled up to suck billions of tons out of the Earth's atmosphere. It simply does not exist in the real world.
This is reiterated by Dr Hugh Hunt in the Department of Engineering, at the University of Cambridge, who points out:
"10 billion tons a year of carbon sequestration? We don't do anything on this planet on that scale. We don't manufacture food on that scale, we don't mine iron ore on that scale. We don't even produce coal, oil or gas on that scale. Iron ore is below a billion tons a year! How are we going to create a technology, from scratch, a highly complicated technology, to the tune of 10 billion tons a year in the next 10 years?"
Science fiction
It is not just that there are currently no ideas being researched to such a degree where they are likely to be able to bring down atmospheric carbon to a safe level of around 300 parts per million. It is also that the level of funding available to the scientists doing the research is woefully inadequate.
These RCPs are used by policymakers to decide what actions are required to sustain a safe climate for our own and future generations. The information they are using, presented by the IPCC, is nothing more than science fiction.
It makes for sober thinking when glossy images of President Obama and the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, are presented to the world shaking hands on global emissions reductions by 2030 that we know will commit us to catastrophe.
Nick Breeze is a film maker and writer on climate change and other environmental topics. He has been interviewing a range of experts relating to the field of climate change and science for over five years. These include interviews with Dr James Hansen, Professor Martin Rees, Professor James Lovelock, Dr Rowan Williams, Dr Natalia Shakhova, Dr Michael Mann, Dr Hugh Hunt, among others.

Additional articles can also be read on his blog Envisionation.

Peter Sinclair: What Climate Deniers Learned from Big Tobacco [MUST SEE VIDEOS - BOTH OF THEM!!!!!]

by Peter Sinclair, This Is Not Cool, February 26, 2015

Above, my newest “This is Not Cool” video focuses on the backstory behind “Merchants of Doubt,” the new documentary inspired by Naomi Oreskes’ and Eric Conway’s book of the same name.  The centerpiece of the book is the story of how techniques of science denial perfected in the tobacco industry have been adapted to the broader war on inconvenient science.

MODsmallThis week’s media firestorm centering on Dr. Willie Soon, a high-profile prop at many a gathering of climate deniers, was kicked off by Justin Gillis’ piece in the New York Times on Sunday.

It’s not insignificant that Gillis put the affair in a larger context, something that happens rarely in media coverage of the climate issue.
The documents shed light on the role of scientists like Dr. Soon in fostering public debate over whether human activity is causing global warming. The vast majority of experts have concluded that it is and that greenhouse emissions pose long-term risks to civilization.
Historians and sociologists of science say that since the tobacco wars of the 1960s, corporations trying to block legislation that hurts their interests have employed a strategy of creating the appearance of scientific doubt, usually with the help of ostensibly independent researchers who accept industry funding. 
Fossil-fuel interests have followed this approach for years, but the mechanics of their activities remained largely hidden. 
“The whole doubt-mongering strategy relies on creating the impression of scientific debate,” said Naomi Oreskes, a historian of science at Harvard University and the co-author of “Merchants of Doubt,” a book about such campaigns. “Willie Soon is playing a role in a certain kind of political theater.”
I was able to include parts of detailed interviews from scientists who were very much a part of the story, including Dr. Oreskes, who was the target of a massive climate denier attack after she published a key paper on the scientific consensus around climate change, in 2004.  

In addition, I include part of our interview with Dr. Ben Santer  who sheds light on the role of tobacco and climate science denier Fred Singer – and Stanton Glantz, who appears in the film and was an early, and combative, critic of the tobacco industry’s war on reality, and connects the tactics, and even the combatants,  to the climate issue.

The movie adaptation of Dr. Oreskes’ book is due in theaters next week. I’ve seen it, and I think, especially in light of the recent revelations, it will become a starting point for a lot of conversations.  

I’m sure that editors and reporters at the New York Times would have seen the movie and been aware of it too, so it causes one to wonder if there is a bit of calculation behind the recent story.
Merchants of Doubt trailer below.

American Meteorological Society Objects to Congressional Investigation of Its Anti-Science Members

by Brad Johnson, Hill Heat, February 28, 2015
Keith Seitter

AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter
The American Meteorological Society's executive director, Keith Seitter, has condemned a Congressional investigation of the potential corruption of scientific testimony on climate change by AMS members.
The investigation was launched by Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) following the revelations that the research of Dr. Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory was secretly financed by the fossil-fuel industry, including Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil, and Southern Company. Soon testified before Congress in 2003 questioning the scientific consensus on fossil-fueled global warming.
Grijalva sent letters to the universities of seven other academics who have been Republican witnesses challenging the climate-science consensus, asking for testimony-related financial disclosure. Seitter responded by condemning the investigation.
"Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers," Seitter wrote in the AMS response. "Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom."
Not mentioned by Seitter is that six of the seven targets of the Grijalva investigation are AMS members.
Judith Curry was elected a Fellow of AMS in 1995 and a councillor of AMS in 1997. John Christy received a Special Award from AMS in 1996, and was elected a Fellow in 2002. David Legates has been the faculty advisor to the Student Chapter of AMS and is an AMS certified consulting meteorologist. Richard Lindzen has received AMS's Meisinger and Charney Awards and was a member of the AMS Council. Robert Balling is a member and frequent presenter at AMS conferences. Roger Pielke Jr is an AMS member.
Pepperdine and American Enterprise Institute historian Steven Hayward is the only investigative target not in the American Meteorological Society.
These AMS members are notable for their public denunciation of the scientific community and specific scientists, including other members of AMS.
Below are some examples.
"The problem is that Obama is listening to scientists that are either playing politics with their expertise, or responding to a political mandate from the administration (probably a combination of both). Not just administrators in govt labs (e.g. [Gavin] Schmidt, [Tom] Karl), but think of the scientist networks of John Holdren and John Podesta: to me the scariest one one is [Michael] Mann to [Joseph] Romm to Podesta." - Judith Curry, 1/21/15
"When you're an alarmist, being wrong, lying, cheating, misleading the public and killing jobs simply do not count against you — even when the allegedly human-caused global warming stopped in 1996." - David Legates, 10/16/13
"[The hacked University of East Anglia email correspondence] is clear proof of what we have suspected: That these thugs have strong-armed and subverted the peer review process by demanding they be reviewers of papers critical of their work, removing editors who are not predisposed to their views, and even threatening to boycott journals that publish papers with which they disagree.” - David Legates, 1/18/10
"Because this issue has policy implications that may potentially raise the price of energy significantly (and thus essentially the price of everything else), the U.S. Congress should not rely exclusively on the U.N. assessments because the process by which they were written includes biased, false, and/or misleading information about one of the most murky of sciences – climate." - John Christy, 3/31/11
"[The Draft National Assessment on Climate Change] is much closer to pseudoscience than it is to science. . . . History tells us that when scientists willingly endorse sweeping governmental agendas fueled by dodgy science, bad things soon happen." - Robert Balling, 4/15/13
"It is quite amazing to see the contortions the IPCC has to go through in order to keep the international climate agenda going." - Richard Lindzen, 9/28/13
"Current global warming alarm hardly represents a plausible proposition. Twenty years of repetition and escalation of claims does not make it more plausible. Quite the contrary, the failure to improve the case over 20 years makes the case even less plausible as does the evidence from climategate and other instances of overt cheating." - Richard Lindzen, Congressional testimony, 11/17/10
Hill Heat has previously compiled a list of dozens of attacks made by Roger Pielke, Jr., a political scientist, against climate scientists.
Roger Pielke, Sr., Pielke, Jr.'s father and another climate scientist who has testified before Congress rejecting the climate science consensus, was elected a Fellow of AMS in 1982. Pielke, Sr., was a member of the AMS Committee for Statements on Weather Modification, which issued AMS's official statement on climate change in August 2012, after significant delay. Pielke, Sr., was a likely source of such delay, as he strongly advocated for changes to weaken the statement. Pielke, Sr., has accused fellow AMS members including Tom Karl, Ben Santer, Tom Peterson, Tom Wigley, and Peter Thorne of "inappropriate" behavior, "collusion," and "conflicts of interest" to suppress dissenting views [his].
This is not the first time the executive director of the AMS has criticized efforts to hold climate deniers publicly accountable.
Seitter previously criticized the science-activist organization Forecast the Facts for "apply[ing] public pressure" on "broadcast meteorologists who are identified as 'deniers' based on views they have expressed with respect to climate change."
Dozens of television weather reporters who have attacked climate science and scientists are AMS members. At least twenty television weathermen who publicly reject basic climate science are AMS Certified Broadcast Meteorologists, the society's seal of approval granting them scientific legitimacy in their role as weather and climate communicators.
"The AMS maintains that peer-review is the appropriate mechanism to assess the validity and quality of scientific research," Seitter wrote, "regardless of the funding sources supporting that research as long as those funding sources and any potential conflicts of interest are fully disclosed."
The pursuit of that disclosure is, of course, the stated purpose of Grijalva's investigation, as the scientific community failed to ensure such disclosure in the case of Willie Soon.
According to the AMS bylaws:
  • Members should conduct themselves in an ethical manner and reflect dignity and honor on their profession.
  • Members should base their practice on sound scientific principles applied in a scientific manner.
  • Members should not direct their professional activities into practices generally recognized as being detrimental to, or incompatible with, the general public welfare.
  • Members should refrain from making exaggerated or unwarranted claims and statements.
  • Either the claims made by AMS and the rest of the global scientific community are exaggerated, unwarranted, and detrimental to the general public welfare, or the claims of the academics under investigation are. Either the burning of hundreds of billions of tons of fossil fuels is disrupting the climate and threatening the public welfare, or the global scientific community has been corrupted into deceiving the general public into policies that would unnecessarily transform global energy production through massive government intervention. Either the climate conspiracy theorists are ethical AMS members, or all of the other members are.
    For decades now the AMS has looked the other way and pretended this fundamental conflict within its ranks does not need to be resolved.
    The American Meteorological Society seems uninterested in maintaining the ethical standards of its members and defending scientific integrity. Its executive director is compounding the error by criticizing Rep. Grijalva for taking action to do just that.

    What happened to the lobbyists who tried to reshape the US view of climate change?

    In 1998 major fossil fuel companies put $2m behind a plan that would effectively fuel the fires of climate science scepticism among the American public. We reveal where the 12 people behind that plan are now

    This Jan. 16, 2015, file photo shows pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, California.

    This January 16, 2015, file photo shows pumpjacks operating at the Kern River Oil Field in Bakersfield, California. Photograph: Jae C. Hong/AP
    by Graham Readfearn, The Guardian, February 27, 2015

    Photograph: Corbis

    Myron Ebell

    Then: Ebell was a policy director at Frontiers of Freedom working on property rights, the Endangered Species Act, federal lands policies and global warming.
    Now: Ebell is the director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and continues to be a prominent global warming sceptic, appearing as a pundit on US television networks and writing media columns. In December 2014 Ebell reportedly claimed delegates from poorer nations were motivated to attend UN climate talks for the daily payments and the chance to take their wives to nice locations.
    Emails to Ebell and the CEI went unanswered.
    John Adams
    John Adams

    John Adams

    Then: Former journalist John Adams was the founder of John Adams Associates, a Washington-based public relations firm. In the early 1970s, Adams was public affairs director in president Richard Nixon’s price commission. According to his archived company profile, Adams also worked as a documentary writer and news producer at CBC and ABC and had worked with legendary broadcaster Walter Cronkite. In 2008, Adams’ firm merged with Kellen Company.
    John Adams died in December 2012.
    Jeffrey Salmon
    Jeffrey Salmon

    Jeffrey Salmon

    Then: Salmon was executive director at the George C Marshall Institute think tank, serving there between 1991 and 2001. Before joining the institute, Salmon had been a senior speechwriter for Dick Cheney during his tenure as defense secretary.
    Now: Three years after being part of the GCSC team, Salmon joined the US Department of Energy. He is currently deputy director of resource management in the department.
    Emails to the department for the attention of Salmon went unanswered.

    Lee Garrigan

    Then: Garrigan was affiliated with the Environmental Issues Council. The now defunct EIC was formed in 1993 by a number of trade associations “who saw the need to explore common sense solutions to widely-debated environmental problems.”
    Those associations included the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, American Pulpwood Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
    Now: Garrigan went on to work at the Environmental Council of the States, a “non-partisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders.” Ms Garrigan no longer works at ECOS.
    The Guardian contacted Garrigan but she declined to comment on the record. The Guardian understands her role in the plan was minimal.

    Joseph L Walker

    Then: Joe Walker was a public relations consultant working on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute. Walker had a co-ordinating role with the group.
    Now: Walker went on to establish his own public relations consultancy, with clients from the chemical and plastics industries. These included the American Chemistry Council, the Chlorine Institute and the Formaldehyde Council. A blog post written by Walker in November 2014 suggests he continues to work in public relations.
    Emails to Walker asking about his role in the GCSC plan went unanswered.
    Sharon Kneiss
    Sharon Kneiss

    Sharon Kneiss

    Then: Kneiss was federal relations manager for oil and gas company Chevron Corp. In 1999, Kneiss represented Chevron at a Washington business meeting to discuss the United Nations Clean Development Mechanism, where she was discussing how Chevron was hopeful that a West African gas pipeline project may qualify for carbon reduction credits. Kneiss also represented Chevron at that year’s major UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany.
    Now: Kneiss is now the President and CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), after stints at the American Chemistry Council, American Forest and Paper Association and American Petroleum Institute.
    The NWRA’s climate change web page says there has been “a significant increase in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases” in the last two decades, and that: “Scientific consensus is clear: these emissions are making the earth warmer in an unusually fast time period.”
    Kneiss told The Guardian: “At the time, I worked for Chevron and we took a constructive approach to the climate issue. While the debate on climate continued, we looked at viable opportunities to mitigate any impacts.”
    She said Chevron had worked with developing country representatives and sponsored workshops to discuss carbon reduction schemes.
    She added: “I attended the first meeting that Joe Walker called concerning the development of his plan. We chose not to participate with that effort.”
    Steve Milloy
    Steve Milloy

    Steve Milloy

    Now: Milloy has continued to describe the science linking fossil fuel emissions and climate change as “junk.” Milloy is now the director of external policy and strategy at Murray Energy Corporation, the largest privately-held coal company in the US. In a speech last year, Milloy said US energy policies to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power stations were based on “eco myths and junk science.”
    Emails to Milloy and Murray Energy went unanswered. The Guardian received a response to the email addressed to Mr Milloy from Lord Christopher Monckton, a prominent climate science sceptic, who said it was “untrue” and “statistically meaningless” to claim the 15 hottest years on record had occurred from 1998 onwards.

    Lynn Bouchey

    Then: Bouchey, also known as L Francis Bouchey, was the director of a project known as Citizens for Sound Science and the Environment, based at the think tank Frontiers of Freedom. The think tank was founded by former Republican senator Malcolm Wallop. At the time the project was attacking the UN Kyoto climate treaty and casting doubt on the risks of human-caused climate change.
    Now: In 2001, Sourcewatch reports that Bouchey, Wallop and Frontiers of Freedom ran an “eco-terrorism” propaganda campaign against Rainforest Action Network (RAN), Greenpeace and other groups, eventually petitioning the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to revoke RAN’s non-profit tax status.
    In 2004 Bouchey joined oil company Shell where, according to his LinkedIn profile, he worked in “government relations and community relations.” US government lobby registers show Bouchey listed as a lobbyist for Shell between 2005 and 2007. Bouchey’s online profile says he is retired.
    The Guardian was unable to locate contact details for Bouchey.

    Peter Cleary

    Then: Cleary was the communications manager at Americans for Tax Reform, a think tank founded by influential conservative Grover Norquist.
    Now: In October 2000 Cleary joined the trade group Grocery Manufacturers of America (now renamed the Grocery Manufacturers Association) as manager, public policy communications.
    In 2003 Cleary was named deputy director of the American Conservative Union with a role to organise the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) conference. The Guardian was unable to find further information about Mr Cleary or make contact with him.

    Randy Randol

    Then: Randol was the senior environmental advisor for Exxon Corporation, based in Washington, DC. Randol, also known as Arthur G Randol III, had worked for the corporation since 1979.
    Now: Randol is now listed as the president of the American Energy Freedom Center.
    In 2001, Randol lobbied the Bush administration to pressure the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to replace its chair Robert Watson, who Randol said had a “personal agenda.” Randol also recommended the Bush administration replace “Clinton/Gore carry-overs” who had “aggressive agendas” with sceptical scientists Richard Lindzen and John Christy. Randol retired from Exxon in 2003. He still works as an advisor in the energy industry.
    He has contributed to reports on energy policy for the National Coal Council and Business Roundtable. He represents Peabody Energy on the Southern States Energy Board and is an advisor to oil and gas developer Green Century Resources. In January 2015, Randol was reportedly acting as a consultant for the Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation speaking against a president Obama plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power stations.
    Emails to Randol went unanswered.

    There was a 13th person identified in the pages of the leaked memo, but they later said they had been incorrectly identified.

    Saturday, February 21, 2015

    Senator Ed Markey to investigate energy companies' funding of bogus climate science studies

    by Sylvan Lane, Globe Correspondent, The Boston Globe, February 21, 2015

    Senator Edward J. Markey will send letters to fossil fuel companies, trade organizations, and others with a stake in carbon fuels.
    Senator Edward J. Markey will send letters to fossil fuel companies, trade organizations, and others with a stake in carbon fuels.

    WASHINGTON — Senator Edward J. Markey is calling on coal and oil companies to reveal whether they are funding scientific climate change studies after his staff reviewed newly obtained documents illuminating the relationship between a researcher for a Cambridge-based institution and energy interests.

    The Massachusetts Democrat will send letters to fossil fuel companies, trade organizations, and others with a stake in carbon fuels, aiming to reveal other climate-change-skeptical scientists whose work has been subsidized by those parties, a Markey spokesman said via e-mail.

    “For years, fossil fuel interests and front groups have attacked climate scientists and legislation to cut carbon pollution using junk science and debunked arguments,” Markey said in a statement. “The American public deserve an honest debate that isn’t polluted by the best junk science fossil fuel interests can buy. That’s why I will be launching this investigation to see how widespread this denial-for-hire scheme stretches within the anti-climate action cabal.”

    The documents reviewed by Markey’s staff were obtained by Greenpeace, the environmental group, through the Freedom of Information Act. They show a relationship between Dr. Willie Soon, a solar researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and several fossil fuel companies who’ve funded his research on climate change. The Cambridge-based center is a joint project of Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, though Soon is employed by the Smithsonian side. The center has previously said that Soon’s views are his alone and not reflective of the institution.

    In 2013, the Boston Globe profiled Soon, who has spent much of the past decade studying the sun’s effect on climate change and downplaying the role of carbon emissions. Some climate scientists and environmental groups have questioned the scientific basis of his work.

    Soon did not respond to a request for comment.

    Since 2001, Soon has received more than $1 million in grants from the ExxonMobil Foundation, Southern Company, the Texaco Foundation, the American Petroleum Institute, and other organizations either affiliated with fossil fuel companies or active in undermining carbon’s role in climate change, according to documents that have been previously reported. Soon also is affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a conservative think tank known for its conferences on climate change skepticism.

    The new documents, which were given to the Globe by Kert Davies, an environmental activist who is executive director of the Virginia-based Climate Investigations Center, contain proposals and contracts made between the Smithsonian wing of the center and four entities: ExxonMobil, Southern Company, DonorsTrust and The Charles G. Koch Foundation.

    Southern Company is one of the country’s largest power companies, operating coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, and natural gas plants across the southern United States. DonorsTrust relays donations from anonymous patrons “dedicated to the ideals of limited government, personal responsibility, and free enterprise,” according to its website. Koch is a libertarian-conservative mogul who has fought climate change rules.

    The newly obtained documents show Soon received more than $270,000 from DonorsTrust and close to $60,000 from Southern Company for solar studies since 2012.

    Soon and three co-authors in January published in a Chinese journal a study in which they said the United Nations panel on climate change used a flawed methodology to estimate global temperature change. The authors said they have developed a more accurate model and the panel’s calculations are exaggerated. Christopher Monckton, one of the paper’s co-authors, insisted he, Soon, and the other two co-authors funded the study entirely. He also said the study was done on the researchers’ own free time and that Soon’s funding from DonorsTrust and Southern Company had nothing to do with the paper published in Science Bulletin.

    Soon said in the study that he had no previous conflicts of interest in the study despite his previous funding, and Science Bulletin, the journal that published the study, did not comment on whether that funding can be considered one. Science Bulletin is investigating the matter but did not respond to requests for comment about their findings.

    Co-author Dr. William Briggs declined to comment.

    While Southern Company has taken measures to reduce its carbon footprint, it also funded a 2010 study conducted by Soon entitled “Avoiding Carbon Myopia: Three Considerations for Policy Makers Concerning Manmade Carbon Dioxide.” The study accused the UN panel of overstating the negative environmental effects of carbon dioxide emissions. It also said efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions wouldn’t have a measurable effect on severe weather or levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to a report Soon submitted to Southern Company in May 2011.

    The report also highlights a March 2011 study funded by Southern Company, which calls the panel’s global warning alarm “an anti-scientific political movement.”

    Southern Company did not respond to a request for comment.

    Work of prominent climate change denier Willie Soon was funded by energy industry

    Climate change smoke
    Willie Soon does not accept that rising greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change, instead blaming the sun. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images
    by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, February 21, 2015

    A prominent academic and climate change denier’s work was funded almost entirely by the energy industry, receiving more than $1.2 million from companies, lobby groups and oil billionaires over more than a decade, newly released documents show.
    Over the last 14 years Willie Soon, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, received a total of $1.25 million from Exxon Mobil, Southern Company, the American Petroleum Institute (API) and a foundation run by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, the documents obtained by Greenpeace through freedom of information filings show.
    According to the documents, the biggest single funder was Southern Company, one of the country’s biggest electricity providers that relies heavily on coal.
    The documents draw new attention to the industry’s efforts to block action against climate change – including President Barack Obama’s power-plant rules.
    Unlike the vast majority of scientists, Soon does not accept that rising greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial age are causing climate changes. He contends climate change is driven by the sun.
    In the relatively small universe of climate denial Soon, with his Harvard-Smithsonian credentials, was a sought after commodity. He was cited admiringly by Senator James Inhofe, the Oklahoma Republican who famously called global warming a hoax. He was called to testify when Republicans in the Kansas state legislature tried to block measures promoting wind and solar power. The Heartland Institute, a hub of climate denial, gave Soon a courage award.
    Soon did not enjoy such recognition from the scientific community. There were no grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation or the other institutions which were funding his colleagues at the Center for Astrophysics. According to the documents, his work was funded almost entirely by the fossil fuel lobby.
    “The question here is really: ‘What did API, ExxonMobil, Southern Company and Charles Koch see in Willie Soon? What did they get for $1m-plus,” said Kert Davies, a former Greenpeace researcher who filed the original freedom of information requests. Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center, of which Davies is the founder, shared the documents with news organisations.
    “Did they simply hope he was on to research that would disprove the consensus? Or was it too enticing to be able to basically buy the nameplate Harvard-Smithsonian?”
    From 2005, Southern Company gave Soon nearly $410,000. In return, Soon promised to publish research about the sun’s influence on climate change in leading journals, and to deliver lectures about his theories at national and international events, according to the correspondence.
    The funding would lead to “active participations by this PI (principal investigator) of this research proposal in all national and international forums interested in promoting the basic understanding of solar variability and climate change”, Soon wrote in a report to Southern Company.
    In 2012, Soon told Southern Company its grants had supported publications on polar bears, temperature changes in the Arctic and China, and rainfall patterns in the Indian monsoon.
    ExxonMobil gave $335,000 but stopped funding Soon in 2010, according to the documents. The astrophysicist reportedly received $274,000 from the main oil lobby, the American Petroleum Institute, and $230,000 from the Charles G Koch Foundation. He received an additional $324,000 in anonymous donations through a trust used by the Kochs and other conservative donors, the documents showed.
    Greenpeace has suggested Soon also improperly concealed his funding sources for a recent article, in violation of the journal’s conflict of interest guidelines.
    “The company was paying him to write peer-reviewed science and that relationship was not acknowledged in the peer-reviewed literature,” Davies said. “These proposals and contracts show debatable interventions in science literally on the behalf of Southern Company and the Kochs.”
    In letters to the Internal Revenue Service and Congress, Greenpeace said Soon may have misused the grants from the Koch foundation by trying to influence legislation.
    Soon did not respond to requests for comment. But he has in the past strenuously denied his industry funders had any influence over his conclusions.
    “No amount of money can influence what I have to say and write, especially on my scientific quest to understand how climate works, all by itself,” he told the Boston Globe in 2013.
    As is common among Harvard-Smithsonian scientists, Soon is not on a salary. He receives his compensation from outside grant money, said Christine Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Center for Astrophysics.
    The Center for Astrophysics does not require scientists to disclose their funding sources. But Pulliam acknowleged that Soon had failed to meet disclosure requirements of some of the journals that published his research. “Soon should have followed those policies,” she said.
    Harvard said Soon operated outside of the university – even though he carries a Harvard ID and uses a Harvard email address.
    “Willie Soon is a Smithsonian staff researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a collaboration of the Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory,” a Harvard spokesman, Jeff Neal, said.
    “There is no record of Soon having applied for or having been granted funds that were or are administered by the University. Soon is not an employee of Harvard.”
    Both Harvard and the Smithsonian acknowledge that the climate is changing because of rising levels of greenhouse gas concentrations caused by human activities.
    Pulliam cast Soon’s association with the institutions as an issue of academic freedom: “Academic freedom is critically important. The Smithsonian stands by the process by which the research results of all of its scholars are peer reviewed and vetted by other scientists. This is the way that the scientific process works. The funding entities, regardless of their affiliation, have no influence on the research.”