The Heartland Climate Institute, a US-based organization that dubs itself a “think tank” has recently had a number of internal documents publicly released by an anonymous “Heartland insider.” The documents include proposed budgets, lists of donors, plans for developing an anti-climate change school curriculum and more.
The documents are being carefully dissected by serious climate change commentators and bloggers all over. Here’s a list of posts made about the documents so far (courtesy of Richard Littlemore’s blog, which also has all the leaked documents available for download):
Deep Climate – Heartland Institute Budget and Strategy Revealed
Greg Laden – Anti-Science Institute’s Insider Reveals Secrets
Planet 3.0 – Is turnabout Fair Play?
Climate Crocks – How is Joe Bast like Joe Camel?
Is turnabout fair play, indeed? Many who closely follow both news of climate science and the politics of climate denialism will recall the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia a couple of years ago. Many on the right hailed them as proof of a massive conspiracy of climate scientists.
Yet a closer look at the emails (which are still freely available), revealed nothing of the kind. The most controversial statement was one scientist talking about using a trick of plotting data logarithmically to tease out a trend in the data. Climate deniers wildly misinterpreted this as “we’ll trick everything into seeing something in the data that isn’t there”, which is, of course, impossible. Plotting the data in a different way cannot produce a trend that isn’t there. The raw data, like most scientific data, is freely available to anyone to double-check, question or otherwise check their work, which is something that scientists do constantly.
Of course, the sorts of people who get their information from anti-scientific sources tend to take it at face value. If they had the basic knowledge or inclination to confirm or deny ideological claims by checking them against original sources, we wouldn’t have such a large section of the population believing demonstrably false statements around the world. Thus, when lobbyists for climate denial and slanted news organizations reported things in the email that weren’t really there, true believers simply accepted it.
So on the one side there is science, and on the other side, political organizations who simply like to make unfounded statements to discredit climate change. Self-described “think tanks” on the other side are misleadingly labelled. The only way to really think about a scientific topic is to collect and analyze data. But “climate skeptic think tanks” don’t do science. They’ve already decided they don’t want to believe, or at least don’t want to admit, that climate change is happening.
And this is basically what these leaked documents demonstrate. The list of funders includes big business interests who don’t want to change the way they do things because it might cost them money. (By the way, the Heartland Institute doesn’t just lie about climate change, they get paid by Reynolds American, a tobacco company, for saying that cigarettes are good for you, so now you know you can trust them.)
Heartland’s expenditures include paying several people they consider “high profile” to keep spouting off about climate change being a hoax. Craig Idso is receiving some $135, 000 a year for this crap. Fred Singer receives not quite half as much, but $60, 000 simply for making stuff up? In this economy? Not too shabby.
Oh, and they’ve found a coal-industry consultant, a Dr. Wojick, who they’re paying $100, 000 to write their “climate change is a hoax” school curriculum, though no good teacher would let these documents get within 10 feet of their classroom. Wojick’s doctorate is in mathematical logic. He has no background in the physical sciences at all, let alone the climate sciences. Of course, there’s no science in the proposed curriculum, so I suppose that works out.
But again, what would we expect? The Heartland Institute is a group of lobbyists whose agenda is profit for its donors. People lie for money. Hardly breaking news.
Photo credit: NASA