Heartland Institute Caught With Its Pants Down on Global Warming

A number of internal documents were apparently leaked this week from conservative think tank, The Heartland Institute, revealing its funding sources, strategy and a 2012 action plan to deliberately cast doubt on the subject of global warming despite the clear evidence and overwhelming scientific consensus. Some sources are describing the leak as a counterpoint to “Climategate” and at least as potentially damaging, though this time to the “skeptics” side.

In a quickly prepared press release, the Heartland Institute claims both that the documents were fake and that they were stolen, which is a bit puzzling.

On the one hand they say that, “the stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to ‘re-send’ board materials to a new email address.” And at the same time, they are “respectfully” asking that these materials not be disseminated since, “the authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed.”

They go on to appeal for civility, stating that, “As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.” This is, of course, exactly what they did when the East Anglia e-mails were leaked, suggesting data tampering on the part of climate scientists. Not.

A list of the leaked documents can be found here. The Heartland Institute, claims that one of the documents, the 2012 Climate Strategy document is a fake. However, independent investigation has verified that each of the five strategic elements contained in the two-page overview are also contained in other documents whose validity have not been contested.

The “allegedly fake” strategy document opens with the following statement.

Given the increasingly important role the Heartland Institute is playing in leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming, it is useful to set priorities for our efforts in 2012. This document offers such a set of priorities. I propose that at this point it be kept confidential and only be distributed to a subset of Institute Board and senior staff. More details can be found in our 2012 Proposed Budget document and 2012 Fundraising Strategy memo.

These priorities include:

  • Heartland’s 2012 Fundraising Plan, which shows that they expect to raise $7.7 million, a 70 percent increase over last year. Their budget for the year is $6.5 million.
  • A plan for a K-12 school curriculum to be developed by a consultant that will, “show that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.” An anonymous donor has pledged $100,000 to cover this expense.
  • Funding for parallel organizations, such as the NIPCC to “undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports.” They include $388,000 for a team of writers. (Hmmm, that’s pretty good money.)
  • There is also another $18k per month, for “funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message.” (We put stuff like this in our novel Vapor Trails, but we thought we were making it up.)
  • Expanded Climate Communications, where they say, “Heartland plays an important role in climate communications, especially through our in-house experts (e.g., Taylor) through his Forbes blog and related high profile outlets, our conferences, and through coordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts). Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.”

These documents, if they are indeed genuine, reveal nothing less than the well-funded, well-oiled heart of the climate denial machine. And while the two-page strategy document is the only one whose authenticity is being disputed, all these elements are referenced in the other documents.

Nothing here should be surprising to anyone who has been following this story, except perhaps how shameless these folks are in their bald-faced attempt to subvert the truth for their own monetary gain.

We have run previous stories of how both the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil have behaved along similar lines, funding groups to fan the flames of doubt, much as the tobacco companies did for years on the lung cancer issue.

This was also on the mind of Kevin Knobloch of the Union of Concerned Scientists when he wrote, “These latest documents further expose the mechanics of a cynical campaign underwritten by fossil fuel interests to confuse the American public about climate change. Free market ideology has no bearing on the scientific question of whether or not human activity is dramatically altering our climate. But, just as the tobacco industry famously sought to sow doubt about the health effects of smoking cigarettes, some cynical groups and fossil fuel interests want to prevent us from coming together to address the threat posed by global warming. The fact that these interests are willing to take their ideological fight into our children’s science classrooms is especially disturbing.

“Fortunately, many energy companies accept the facts on climate change and are working on solutions. The question is no longer whether or not scientists agree about climate change and the urgency to act — they do — but when the corporations and individuals who fund attacks on climate science will finally stop.”

[Image credit: San Diego Shooter” Flickr Creative Commons]

RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Now available on Kindle.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact: bobolink52@gmail.com

5 responses

  1. “describing the leak as a counterpoint to “Climategate” and at least as potentially damaging”

    You obviously never read through the climategate 1 and 2 e-mails. This is merely an attempt to try and frighten off any donors from funding valid criticism of the global warming agenda.

    You mention Exxon, but they have given far more over the years to people promoting global warming, such as the late Stephen Schneider at Stanford:

    Thursday, November 21, 2002 by the New York Times 
    Exxon-Led Group Is Giving a Climate Grant to Stanford 
    by Andrew Revkin   “Four big international companies, including the oil giant Exxon Mobil, said yesterday that they would give Stanford University $225 million over 10 years for research on ways to meet growing energy needs without worsening global warming. ”

    The ten years is up this year, I wonder if the money will be renewed? The late Stephen Schneider made good use of that funding, for propaganda and producing a climate journal, Climatic Research, that only presented papers from his friends, peer reviewed of course, by those same friends.

    Remember this e-mail?  TC is the UK Tyndall Centre, set up in 2000 with help from IPCC Pachauri’s TERI organisation, amongst others. 

    From: Mike Hulme
    To: barker,vira
    Subject: Fwd: BP funding
    Date: Sat Nov 4 16:45:25 2000 “Any idea who at Cambridge has been benefitting from this BP money?
    Mike From: “Simon J Shackley” Organization: umistTo: m.hulme@xxxxxxxxx.xxxDate: Thu, 2 Nov 2000 14:44:09 GMTSubject: BP fundingdear TC colleagues looks like BP have their cheque books out! How can TC benefit fromthis largesse? I wonder who has received this money within Cambridge University?Cheers, Simon”
    BP, FORD GIVE $20 MILLION FOR PRINCETON UNIVERSITY EMISSIONS STUDYAuto.com/Bloomberg NewsOctober 26, 2000Internet: http://www.auto.com/industry/iwirc26_20001026.htm LONDON — BP Amoco Plc, the world’s No. 3 publicly traded oil company, and Ford Motor Co. said they will give Princeton University $20 million over 10 years to study ways to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. BP said it will give $15 million. Ford, the world’s second-biggest automaker, is donating $5 million. The gift is part of a partnership between the companies aimed at addressing concerns about climate change. Carbon dioxide is the most common of the greenhouse gases believed to contribute to global warming.London-based BP said it plans to give $85 million in the next decade to universities in the U.S. and U.K. to study environmental and energy issues. In the past two years, the company has pledged $40 million to Cambridge University, $20 million to the University of California at Berkeley and $10 million to the University of Colorado at Boulder. Princeton has a global warming institute with Michael Oppenheimer, who helped start the Climate Action Network of NGO’s and is a prominent activist. Cambridge has links with Al Gore and is the base for climate scientist Prince Charles to promote global warming. Berkeley and Boulder are also warming strongholds. This whole Heartland thing is a damp squib.

  2. It beggars belief that there are some who would actualy try to DEFEND this evil group and it’s attempts to brainwash our kids.
    Shame on you.
    And YOU should try reading the ‘climategate’ [sic] e-mails. And you would reach the same conclusion that NINE seperate inquiries reached.
    Namely that:

    “There was a highly orchestrated smear campaign”

    “Their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt”.

    and that they “Simply have no case to answer”

    That some deniers STILL try to harp on about their sordid and  failed smear campaign – seemingly unaware that  that they have been proven wrong on all counts on multiple occasions – speaks volumes about the lack of knowledge among denial industry dupes.

  3. Can you explain how a scientist from team Global Warming lying and fabricating a fake memo damages the skeptic community?  Maybe in Opposite World it would.

    The so-called indictment of Heartland comes from the fake memo, not the
    other documents which show them doing the same kind of benign business
    any other private think-tank does.

    Climategate damaged the credibility of key scientists because what was leaked was NOT fabricated.  It showed the concerted efforts of a core group of publicly-funded scientists working to CENSOR science that contradicted their narrative and actively thwart Freedom of Information requests with which they are legally required to comply.  The real Heartland documents show a private organization working to PROMOTE science and education that would normally be censored by the likes of the Climategate group.  Climategate censorship vs. Heartland’s promotion of science and education:  what’s the verdict?  You decide.

    And here’s something else to think about:  it says something pretty compelling and uncomplimentary about those who willingly believe the allegations in the fake memo.  Either you’re incredibly gullible, or you willfully ignore truth to support your erroneous belief.

    1. “The Heartland Institute, claims that one of the documents, the 2012 Climate Strategy document is a fake. However, independent investigation
      has verified that each of the five strategic elements contained in the
      two-page overview are also contained in other documents whose validity
      have not been contested. ”
      In other words, the supposedly “fake” memo merely summarizes what is already in the other uncontested documents. So, yes, I believe that it expresses the intent of this organization, and you should too.
      As for Climategate, it has been cleared by several independent sources, but you’re going to continue to believe that these oil  and coal companies are merely looking out for the common good by funding these groups that are fanning the flames of doubt around the scientific consensus and it has nothing to do with the billions at stake. That sounds a lot like “opposite world” to me.

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