Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Deniergate" spells "time's up" for anti-climate change fraudsters

Heartland Institute CEO Joseph Blast
Heartland Institute CEO Joseph Blast

In a massive leak that will do far greater damage to the credibility of climate change deniers than so-called Climategate did to climate change science, secret details have been released on the DeSmogBlog website revealing the donors and future plans of the Heartland Institute, the American lobby group behind many attacks on climate science.

The Heartland Institute is a nonprofit organisation that describes itself as a "think tank", and also lobbies on behalf of the tobacco industry against the reality of second-hand smoke health hazards, and many other issues where regulation threats affect free market activity.

The material is published by DeSmogBlog editor Richard Littlejohn, co-author (with Jim Hoggan) of Climate Cover-up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming.

The documents were apparently leaked by an anonymous donor called "Heartland Insider" and include a budget, fundraising plan, and Climate Strategy for 2012.

The names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of the Board of Directors have also been published.

Detective work is on to discover the identity of a single, male, anonymous donor who gave the Heartland Institute a staggering total of $14,260,443 over six years, including $979,000, or about 21% of total 2011 receipts, in 2011.

Many well-known and sometimes surprising names are to be found in a long list of other donors, including AT&T, well-known climate deniers the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Credit Union National Association, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Microsoft, Murray Energy Corporation, Pfizer, Time Warner, various insurance companies, and, in 2010, the US Chamber of Commerce.

It is astonishing that some of these, such as Microsoft, in public purport to support the fight against climate change.

Targeting schoolchildren

The Heartland Institute's 2012 plans include a shocking $200,000 "Global Warming Curriculum project" to plant doubt about the scientific basis of climate change in the minds of schoolchildren using specially written materials; and a $100,000 campaign to promote the hydraulic fracking of shale gas.

The former is to be directed by Dr. David Wojick, well known as a climate change sceptic and with strong links to the coal industry.

Wojick would create “modules” for grades 10-12 on climate change (“whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy”), climate models (“Their reliability is controversial”), and air pollution (“whether CO2 is a pollutant is controversial”).

For Grades 7-9 the proposal is to say about environmental impact: “environmental impact is often difficult to determine. For example there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather”, and so on.

The intent would be laughable if it were not known that these people have been effective before. Yet is doubtful whether any teacher worth their salary could bring themselves to cooperate.

The pro-fracking work is described as follows: "Heartland has been one of the most outspoken defenders of fracking in the U.S., using Environment & Climate News" [which is packed with 'science' stories that are demonstrably untruthful or misleading], "its Web sites, and its PR and GR operations to comment repeated on the issue and reach large audiences. We have not, however, yet attempted to raise funds from businesses with a financial interest in fracking. In 2012 we intend to correct that oversight and approach dozens of companies and trade associations that are actively seeking allies in this battle."

Fred Singer

Matters which environmentalists have often suspected but not been able to prove can now be established using these documents.

For example, prominent climate sceptic Dr Fred Singer was paid for producing "Climate Change Reconsidered", published by a front organisation named the "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change" (NIPCC), which attempts to disprove the climate change reports of the UNFCCC using so-called "scientific literature".

This cost the Institute $388,000 in 2011. The Strategy document says "NIPCC is currently funded by two gifts a year from two foundations, both of them requesting anonymity. Another $88,000 is earmarked this year for Heartland staff, incremental expenses, and overhead for editing, expense reimbursement for the authors, and marketing."

Singer was given $5,000 in the same time period that he appeared on a Horizon TV programme on climate change last year, where he was given a relatively free ride by the interviewer.

The 2012 Climate Strategy proposes further funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the "alarmist AGW message".

"At the moment," it says, "this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month; he is the founder and former President of the front Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, funded partly by ExxonMobil), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month; he is an Australian climate denier), and a number of other individuals".

Singer has worked for at least 11 ExxonMobil funded think tanks, and has been a paid lobbyist for polluting industry on a wide range of issues, as well documented in 'Merchants of Doubt', the book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway which exposes how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by an over-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of tobacco, acid rain, the ozone hole, global warming and DDT.

DeSmogBlog has also today published evidence compiled by John Mashey that Singer claimed Dr. Frederick Seitz as the chair of the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) for two full years after Seitz died, thereby committing perjury in his tax filings to the Inland Revenue Service.

James Taylor

The Strategy document confirms that James Taylor, a climate denier with a blog on the top free-market business website and who appears on CNN, CNN Headline News, CBS Evening News, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, is on the payroll of the Heartland Institute.

Taylor is so right wing that he attacks Republican Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich for supporting big-government energy and environment policies.

The document expresses anger that Forbes is now allowing high profile climate scientists (such as Peter Gleick) to "post warmist science essays that counter our own".

The Fundraising Plan also proves that the Institute funds Anthony Watts, a meteorologist who hosts, which trashes the reputation of weather stations in collecting climate data.

The Plan proposes giving him more money to create another website costing $88,000, called the Weather Stations Project, which would repost NOAA data regarded as favourable by the Institute (the NOAA is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but the Heartland document amusingly mis-names it the 'National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration').

There is also a further $250,000 earmarked for a "Center for Transforming Education".

Declining support

The Strategy document admits that the Anonymous Donor’s generosity has declined from being over half of its budget, and that times are now harder. "We went half the year without a development director and didn’t do any direct mail", it says.

It also does not have the cash to produce a 2012 edition of "Climate Change Reconsidered".

These documents are undoubtedly genuine. Their release makes it less likely that the work of climate change deniers can be taken seriously, now that it is patently obvious which vested interests are behind their persistent misrepresentations and inversions of climate science.

No doubt the Heartland Institute is now urgently seeking the identity of the whistleblower who is the Heartland Insider, but the damage has been done, and its donors will be wondering whether 2012 might be the year to withdraw their support.

But the question remains: who is the Anonymous Donor who has been their biggest single backer?


Anonymous said...

Those in possession of the documents should be going to jail anytime now. I hope Desmogblog retains good lawyers because I know Heartland does.

I've got my beer and popcorn ready, this is going to be great.

David Thorpe said...

And then there's all the other places it's already been uploaded to. Jail's going to have to be pretty big. And make sure you get that darn whistleblower and hang him high.