Climate skeptic blasts 'shameless attempt to silence' research

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A scientist skeptical of climate change who is at the center of a controversy over his funding from oil and coal interests said Monday he is “saddened and appalled” by the attacks against him.

Willie Soon, who works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said he’s been the target of attacks from “radical environmental and politically motivated groups” in recent weeks.

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“This effort should be seen for what it is: a shameless attempt to silence my scientific research and writings, and to make an example out of me as a warning to any other researcher who may dare question in the slightest their fervently held orthodoxy of anthropogenic global warming,” Soon said in a statement released by the conservative Heartland Institute, one of the top voices in the movement questioning the scientific consensus that humans' greenhouse gas emissions are causing climate change.

In late February, activist group Greenpeace released documents that they said show that Soon took more than $1.2 million from fossil fuel interests and did not properly disclose the funding in at least 11 papers.

Soon, a prominent researcher among climate skeptics, has also testified before Congress about his conclusions that the sun is largely to blame for long-term temperature variations.

“Let me be clear. I have never been motivated by financial gain to write any scientific paper, nor have I ever hidden grants or any other alleged conflict of interest,” Soon said in the statement.

“The fact that my research has been supported in part by donations to the Smithsonian Institution from many sources, including some energy producers, has long been a matter of public record.”

He said he has always disclosed funding in a way that aligns with the practices in his field and those adopted by his colleagues.

And while Soon is open to disclosing more about his potential conflicts of interest, any new standards should be adopted widely, he said.

The Soon documents kicked off congressional investigations into climate skeptics’ funding, leading to accusations that lawmakers are trying to silence researchers.