Willie Soon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Willie Soon
Born 1966 (age 48–49)
Kangar, Malaysia
Residence Malaysia and United States
Nationality American Malaysian
Fields Astrophysics, Earth Science
Institutions Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Alma mater University of Southern California
Thesis Non-equilibrium kinetics in high-temperature gases (1991)
Doctoral advisor Joseph Kunc
Influences Richard Lindzen
Notable awards Petr Beckmann Award (2004)

Willie Wei-Hock Soon (born 1966)[1] is an astrophysicist and geoscientist [2][3][4] at the Solar and Stellar Physics (SSP) Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.[5][6] He is also a receiving editor for the journal New Astronomy.[7] Soon has testified before Congress on the issue of climate change, and is known for his views that most global warming is caused by solar variation.[8][9]

In addition to writing a range of technical papers on astrophysics and the physics of climate change, Soon co-authored The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun–Earth Connection with Steven H. Yaskell (2004). The book treats historical and proxy records of climate change coinciding with the Maunder Minimum.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Willie Soon was born in Kangar, Malaysia in 1966. He attended Khoon Aik Primary School in Kangar, Perlis, then Sekolah Menengah Syed Sirajudin Secondary School in Jejawi, Perlis and Sekolah Menengah Dato Sheikh Ahmad Secondary School in Arau, Perlis.[1] To further his education he emigrated to the United States in 1980 and attended the University of Southern California, receiving a B.Sc. in 1985, followed by a M.Sc. in 1987 and then a PhD [with distinction] in 1991.[11] His doctoral thesis was titled, Non-equilibrium kinetics in high-temperature gases.[12] He received the IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Sciences Society Graduate Scholastic Award in 1989 and the Rockwell Dennis Hunt Scholastic Award from the University of Southern California in 1991.[6][13]


After completing his PhD and upon the advice of his thesis advisor, Soon did post doctoral research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and has been doing research in astrophysics and earth science there since 1991.[1] He has also been an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory,[14] a senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute,[14][15] the chief science adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute,[16] and an Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Science and Environmental Studies of the University of Putra, Malaysia.[17] In 2004 Soon was awarded the "Petr Beckmann Award for outstanding contributions to the defense of scientific truth" by Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.[18]

2003: Climate Research controversy[edit]

In 2003, Willie Soon was first author on a review paper in the journal Climate Research, with Sallie Baliunas as co-author. This paper concluded that "the 20th century is probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climatic period of the last millennium."[19]

Shortly thereafter, 13 scientists published a rebuttal to the paper.[20][21] There were three main objections: 1. Soon and Baliunas used data reflective of changes in moisture, rather than temperature; 2. they failed to distinguish between regional and hemispheric mean temperature anomalies; and 3. they reconstructed past temperatures from proxy evidence not capable of resolving decadal trends.[20][21] Soon, Baliunas and David Legates published a response to these claims.[22]

After disagreement with the publisher and other members of the editorial board, Hans von Storch, Clare Goodess, and two more members of the journal's ten-member editorial board resigned in protest against what they felt was a failure of the peer review process on the part of the journal.[23][24] Otto Kinne, managing director of the journal's parent company, stated that "CR [Climate Research] should have been more careful and insisted on solid evidence and cautious formulations before publication" and that "CR should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication."[25]

Soon and Baliunas have also been criticised because their research budget was funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute.[26][27][28][29]

2011: Funding controversy[edit]

In 2011, it was revealed that Soon received over $1,000,000 from petroleum and coal interests since 2001.[30] Documents obtained by Greenpeace under the US Freedom of Information Act show that the Charles G. Koch Foundation gave Soon two grants totaling $175,000 in 2005/6 and again in 2010. Multiple grants from the American Petroleum Institute between 2001 and 2007 totalled $274,000, and grants from Exxon Mobil totalled $335,000 between 2005 and 2010. Other coal and oil industry sources which funded him include the Mobil Foundation, the Texaco Foundation and the Electric Power Research Institute. Soon has stated unequivocally that he has "never been motivated by financial reward in any of my scientific research." and "would have accepted money from Greenpeace if they had offered it to do my research."[31]

Additional work[edit]

Although labeled sometimes merely as a 'climate change skeptic', 'denier', or such, Soon has written that he believes that the Earth has warmed considerably in the past recent decades and that it will continue to do so in the future. He co-authored a 2015 study published by the Chinese Science Bulletin, the journal of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, that featured a simple climate model predicting an overall trend of approximately 1.0 C warming for the 2000 to 2100 period, drawing upon the historical record of 0.34 C warming from 1990 to 2014. The study's authors, a team made up of Soon with Dr. William M. Briggs, Dr. David R. Legates, and Lord Christopher Monckton, stated that they somewhat agreed with the IPCC’s ideas but found the organization's temperature predictions to be largely overstated.[32]

See also[edit]

Selected publications[edit]



Peer-Reviewed Papers[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Sunny Occupation". The Star. April 18, 2005. 
  2. ^ Marshall, Chris (March 3, 2013). "Passing the blame for climate change: Law Center's luncheon sparks heated debate". The Daily Cougar. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  3. ^ McFadden, Lance (2008). "The Deliberative Polling Initiative". The Past, Present (California University of Pennsylvania) 2 (1): 3. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  4. ^ "'Realists' challenge claim of consensus on warming". The Washington Times. June 7, 2009. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  5. ^ "SSP Division Staff List". Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  6. ^ a b "Willie Soon". Speaker Access. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  7. ^ "New Astronomy Editorial Board". Elsevier. Retrieved 2012-06-05. 
  8. ^ "Testimony of Dr. Willie Soon". United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. July 29, 2003. Retrieved 2011-06-17. 
  9. ^ Baum, Eric W. (April 14, 2009). "Sunspots May Cause Climate Fluctuations: Harvard astrophysicist says recent cooler temps are a result of fewer sunspots". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  10. ^ Soon, Willie Wei-Hock; Yaskell, Steven H. (2003). The Maunder Minimum and the Variable Sun-Earth Connection. World Scientific Publishing. ISBN 981-238-275-5. 
  11. ^ "Willie Soon". Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships (OFI). Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  12. ^ Soon, Wei-Hock (1991). "Non-equilibrium kinetics in high-temperature gases". University of Southern California. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  13. ^ "Rockwell Dennis Hunt Scholastic Award". Skull and Dagger Honor Society, University of Southern California. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  14. ^ a b Soon, Willie et al. (2001). Global Warming: A Guide to the Science. Fraser Institute. p. viii. 
  15. ^ Pearce, Fred (2010). The Climate Files: The Battle for the Truth about Global Warming. Random House. p. xvi. ISBN 978-0-85265-229-9. 
  16. ^ "Global Warming Science and Public Policy". Science and Public Policy Institute. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  17. ^ "Speakers 20th Annual Meeting of DDP Colorado Springs, CO, July 27–28, 2002". Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  18. ^ "Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter" 21 (4). Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. July 2004. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  19. ^ Soon, Willie; Baliunas, Sallie (2003). "Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1000 years". Climate Research 23 (2): 89–110. doi:10.3354/cr023089. 
  20. ^ a b "Leading Climate Scientists Reaffirm View that Late 20th Century Warming Was Unusual and Resulted From Human Activity" (Press release). American Geophysical Union. July 7, 2003. AGU Release No. 03-19. Retrieved 2012-06-28. 
  21. ^ a b Mann, Michael et al. (2003). "On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th-century warmth". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 84 (27): 256–256. Bibcode:2003EOSTr..84..256M. doi:10.1029/2003EO270003. 
  22. ^ Soon, Willie et al. (2003). "Comment on "On past temperatures and anomalous late-20th century warmth"". Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union 84 (44): 473–476. Bibcode:2003EOSTr..84..473S. doi:10.1029/2003EO440007. 
  23. ^ Monastersky, Richard (September 2003). "Storm Brews Over Global Warming". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  24. ^ Goodess, Clare (November 2003). "Stormy Times for Climate Research". SGR Newsletter No. 28. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  25. ^ Kinne, Otto (2003). "Climate Research: an article unleashed worldwide storms" (PDF). Climate Research 24: 197–198. doi:10.3354/cr024197. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  26. ^ Sanchez, Irene (November 13, 2005). "Warming study draws fire". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  27. ^ Mooney, Chris (April 13, 2004). "Earth Last". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  28. ^ "20th Century Climate Not so Hot" (Press release). Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. March 31, 2003. CFA Release No. 03-10. Retrieved 2009-05-29. 
  29. ^ Revkin, Andrew (August 5, 2003). "Politics Reasserts Itself in the Debate Over Climate Change and Its Hazards". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  30. ^ Gardner, Timothy (June 28, 2011). "US climate skeptic Soon funded by oil, coal firms". Reuters. Retrieved 2011-06-28. 
  31. ^ Vidal, John (June 17, 2011). "Climate sceptic Willie Soon received $1m from oil companies, papers show". The Guardian. 
  32. ^ doi:10.1007/s11434-014-0699-2

External links[edit]