Climate change is something that has found itself being debated for a number of years, even as overwhelming evidence seems to point toward the fact that its incredibly obvious. This weekend though, reports swirled that one of the biggest names in the anti-global warming, or anti-climate change conversation is likely lacking a bit more than just credibility. It was reported over the weekend that Wei-Hock Soon, a scientist who has vocally opposed climate change – citing that it ultimately comes down to the activity of the sun – while downplaying and even downright ignoring the role humans clearly have had in the process of creating climate change. As it turns out, the reports, statements, and rhetoric that was regularly used by conservative media, as well as conservative politicians – were likely paid for by energy companies.
Reports indicate that Wei-Hock Soon was paid as much as $1.2 million by energy companies, who ultimately paid him in exchange for erroneous reports, and other pieces of publicized information that would mislead the general public. The goal, of course, would be to manipulate the narrative around global warming. This though, will certainly land a blow in terms of his credibility, as well as the credibility of the Republican Party, which has regularly taken his message to heart.
Perhaps the most-damaging point to this story is the fact that he failed to report any of the earnings that he was granted by the fossil fuel industry before, or while publishing his papers. Thus, creating a situation where it’ll now be widely viewed that his views were influenced by the money that he received. Whether that was actually the case or not. At the end of the day, it isn’t nearly as bad for the science community as it is for the political landscape in the United States and throughout the rest of the world because it reinforces the stereotype that the climate change conversation and narrative is largely controlled by special interests. Whether we’re talking about the private energy sector, or we’re talking about public political interests – it has become a constant point of contention for many. Instances like this take the credibility and certainty from the conversation – which is the point of having opposing views. However, when those opposing views are purchased opinions – they lack credibility and become lost in the confusion they create.