Harvard-Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon apparently failed to disclose conflicts of interest in a new paper, according to a complaint.
By Sylvan LaneGlobe Correspondent January 26, 2015
WASHINGTON — A climate-change skeptic at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who has relied on grants from fossil-fuel energy interests apparently failed to disclose financial conflicts of interest in a newly released paper, according to a complaint by a climate watchdog group.
The paper by Harvard-Smithsonian scientist Willie Soon and three other climate-change skeptics contends the United Nations panel that tracks global warming uses a flawed methodology to estimate global temperature change. Soon and his co-authors claim to have a simpler, more accurate model that shows the threat of global warming to be exaggerated.
The Chinese journal that published the paper, Science Bulletin, imposes a strict conflict of interest policy on authors, obligating contributors to disclose any received funding, financial interests, honors, or speaking engagements that might affect their work.
In a note at the end of the paper, all four authors claimed no conflicts of interest on the published study. But Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, an organization based in Virginia, said Soon’s long track record of accepting energy-industry related grants indicates otherwise and might constitute a violation of Science Bulletin’s disclosure policy.
In a letter to Science Bulletin, Davies points to the more than $1 million Soon has received from companies and interests supporting studies critical of climate change.
“At the end of the article under the heading ‘Conflict of interest’, there is this statement: ‘The authors declare that they have no conflict.’ This simply cannot be true,” Davies wrote. “I am concerned that Dr. Soon has not disclosed his funding sources or his outside consulting fees when submitting this article for publishing in your journal, and I am worried that such failure to disclosure may impact the reputation and credibility of both the journal and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”