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RP Siegel headshot

Heartland Institute Caught With Its Pants Down on Global Warming

Words by RP Siegel
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 headshotRP Siegel

RP Siegel (1952-2021), was an author and inventor who shined a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work appeared in TriplePundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, Grist, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering,  Design News, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, Environmental Science, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Eniday, and engineering.com among others . He was the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP was a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 53 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP was the winner of the 2015 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week blogging competition. RP passed away on September 30, 2021. We here at TriplePundit will always be grateful for his insight, wit and hard work.


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