How Heartland-style Climate Sceptic Campaigns Play "Hide the Deniers" Using Secretive Fund

Wed, 2012-02-29 15:59Graham Readfearn
Graham Readfearn's picture

How Heartland-style Climate Sceptic Campaigns Play "Hide the Deniers" Using Secretive Fund

A LOW-PROFILE funding organisation acting as a middleman for wealthy conservative businesspeople has been quietly backing climate denial campaigns across the US.

The Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund and its partner organisation Donors Trust has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups blocking attempts to limit greenhouse gas pollution and undermining climate science.

Yet the structure of the funds allows the identities of donors and the existence of any vested interests to remain hidden from public view.

Step aside the fakery of “hide the decline”. Say hello to “hide the deniers”.

During the 2009 unlawful release of the private emails of climate scientists, the phrase “hide the decline” became a catch cry for the denial industry as it tried to convince the world that global warming was some kind of hoax.

Sceptics, fake climate experts, conservative politicians and right-wing commentators latched onto the phrase contained in an email from British climate scientist Phil Jones.
Sceptics claimed it was evidence scientists were trying to manufacture global temperature records. In fact, Professor Jones's email said nothing of the sort. 
Jones, as he explained to many, including the BBC, was referring to data taken from tree rings that, up to the 1960s, had correlated well with global temperatures.
But “removing the incorrect impression given by tree rings that temperatures… were not rising”, as Jones explained, just didn’t have the same ring to it as “hide the decline”.
The most high profile case involving climate sceptics since that non-scandal of “Climategate” is the ongoing unmasking (or for some, confirmation) of the methods the free-market Heartland Institute think-tank deploys to confuse the public about the dangers of fossil fuel emissions.
But the case also gives an insight into how Heartland and other ideologically aligned groups gather their funding while preserving the identity of their wealthy backers.
Heartland does not like the public to know who is funding its campaigns to deliberately undermine decades of research into the effects of greenhouse gas emissions on the climate and oceans.
Like other groups, such as the UK’s Global Warming Policy Foundation or Australia’s Institute for Public Affairs, these think-tanks promoting climate confusion say they keep their funders secret, in part, because of the public vilification they may attract if their identities are revealed. 
Even so, previous investigations of Heartland’s funding have found their backers to include Exxon Mobil, the Scaife oil, aluminium and banking family and a suite of other libertarian foundations.
Thanks to the work of DeSmogBlog contributor John Mashey and others, a key funder to Heartland has emerged in the form of the Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund, and its related Donors Trust. 
A review of their grant giving, recorded in documents filed to the Internal Revenue Service, reveals DCF’s penchant for other climate sceptic, anti-greenhouse regulation campaigns which pour scorn on climate science and climate scientists while claiming environmental regulations are attacks on freedom.
DCF works by establishing what it calls “donor-advised funds” with a “minimum initial gift” of $1 million. 
According to DCF’s IRS 990 declarations, in 2010 it gave out $41.1 million in grants. In 2009 this was $59.7 million and in 2008, $70.8 million.
The dollars given by donors are held by DCF in an account and invested, “until the donor recommends grant disbursements to any number of liberty-minded public charities”.
Donors can also appoint third parties or entire committees to dish out the cash on their behalf. DCF keeps spending the money at the donor’s request as long as it falls within DCF’s “overall mission and purpose”.
That purpose is to always promote private initiatives, rather than government programs, as the best way to tackle society’s issues in areas including the environment, social welfare and health.
As well as cutting down on paperwork, the DCF also allows the funders, and any vested interests, to remain hidden from public view.
In 2009, Heartland’s revenue was $6,785,374. That same year, DCF gave Heartland $2,171,530, of which at least $770,000 went specifically to global warming-related projects. 
In 2008, when Heartland’s revenue was $7.78million, the DCF gave the institute $4.6 million, of which $184,000 was specifically for “global warming research projects” and $2million for “general operations”.
Also in 2009, DCF gave $115,000 to the Oregon-based Cascade Policy Institute for what the IRS 990 form described as “a cap and trade/climate change transparency video”.
The documentary in question was most likely “Climate Chains”, which is part of the Cascade Policy Institute’s “Carbon Cartel Education Project”. DCF gave the Carbon Cartel Education Project $80,000 the previous year.
During the film, the “experts” claimed human-caused climate change was a “bandwagon”, a “fad” and that somehow, during what has since been declared as the hottest decade on the instrumental record, the world was cooling.
Any attempts to introduce laws to mitigate climate change, were simply an “attack on freedom”. 
The experts featured in Climate Chains were exclusively staff members of other free-market think-tanks, such as Myron Ebell and Christopher Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and Pat Michaels, of the Cato Institute.
Heartland’s leaked 2012 Fundraising Plan highlighted a project to develop teaching modules for schools from kindergarten to grade 12 that would teach how climate science was “controversial”.
Heartland says that an “Anonymous Donor” has already pledged $100,000 to pay for the project.
The Daily Kos blog (which has also provided links to all the relevant IRS 990 forms) puts a compelling case that this “Anonymous Donor” is reclusive industrialist Barre Seid, who has been using the DCF to direct his funds.
Also in 2010, DCF gave $35,000 to the “Free-to-Choose Network” for “unstoppable solar cycles DVD” – presumably to either pay for them, or distribute them. The network has also received $393,607 cash from DCF the previous year.
Unstoppable Solar Cycles is a short film aimed at school children (with one version narrated by an on-screen school-age presenter) that Heartland helped to distribute.
There were four principal scientific voices in the video, which argued the sun could be to blame for climate change and argued CO2 was a minor element in the climate system.
Dr David Legates and Dr Willie Soon are both well-known contrarian scientists with outlying
views on climate change.
The IRS forms reveal that in 2010 Donors Trust gave $50,000 to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, “for research under Dr Willie Soon”.
A Greenpeace spokesman has told DeSmogBlog it is now “investigating the genesis” of this $50,000 grant, which he said was not disclosed when Greenpeace requested documents from Smithsonian under Freedom of Information laws last year. 
As DeSmogBlog and others reported last year, the Greenpeace investigation found that every grant Dr. Soon has received since 2002 had originated with fossil fuel interests.
Exxon Mobil, the American Petroleum Institute and Koch Industries were revealed as major supporters of Soon’s research.
One of the other two interviewees in the video, Rie Oldenburg, the curator of the Narsaq Musem in Southern Greenland, claimed the makers of the video had misled her. 
She was under the impression she was being interviewed for a video on Norse history.  Oldenburg also claimed that the remaining participant in the video, Ingibjorg Gilsladottir, had been told the film was for the Discovery Channel.
The student presenter in the video, “Beth”, concluded, “From what I’ve heard the cost to reduce CO2 will be enormous and, as the scientists said, this may not be the cause. We could create disaster for poor countries and hardship for all of us and not change the pattern of warming and cooling.”
Other recent donations of note from DCF include $100,000 to the James Madison Institute for Public Policy “for climate change and Vaclav Klaus event”. Klaus is the president of the Czech Republic who describes human-caused climate change as a “mass delusion”.
The International Policy Network, which has published papers focusing on the “uncertainties” in climate change science and lobbying against putting a price on greenhouse gases, received $185,000 from DCF in 2010.
In 2010, Donors Trust gave several grants to one of the most overt of all climate science denying organisations, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, which flew a delegation including Lord Christopher Monckton to Durban for last year’s UN climate conference.
Some $535,500 went to CFACT’s “Environmental Education Fund”. A further $24,753 went towards the “Not Evil, Just Wrong project”. 
Not Evil Just Wrong is a film that claims regulating greenhouse gas emissions will cripple world economies and hurt the third-world.

DCF has close ties to another, higher profile funding group, Philanthropy Roundtable.

Adam Meyerson is DCF’s chairman and also the president of Philanthropy Roundtable. DCF’s vice-chairman, Kimberly O. Dennis, is a Philanthropy Roundtable board member as well as being the chairman of Donors Trust.

DCF shares an address with Donors Trust and several board members and staff. Whitney Ball is the president of DCF and Donors Trust.

Steven Hayward, a DCF board member, is also a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. In 2006, it emerged that Hayward had written to an astrophysics professor offering $10,000 for a review of an IPCC report to “explore the limitations of climate model outputs”.

Earlier this week, Hayward wrote in detail about the Heartland issue, not mentioning his role on the board of DCF, which has given Heartland more than $6million in recent years.

In Heartland’s most recent “Quarterly Performance Report” the institute bragged it had logged “63,418 contacts with legislators” on climate change and environmental policy issues”.

In the report, senior fellow James M. Taylor, a Forbes blogger, was still claiming the 2009 “Climategate” emails showed scientists committing “fraud and misconduct” more than a year after numerous independent inquiries into the allegations found the opposite.

Not so much a case of “hide the decline” as a case of “hide the facts”, “hide the science” and “hide the deniers”.



kar98k I asked for a "scientist":

"Please tell me one scientist that you think is correct in his science that there is no problem with accumulating green house gases"

Hulme is not a scientist he is a geographer and studied geography. Last time I looked Geography is classified as "social science". It seems that his big beef with IPCC and climate scientists is that they do not include the opinions of social scientists in their reports and studies. Oh dear, poor soul, he has missed out on the "gravy train". After reading about Hulme I can see why. His opinion, for what it is worth, is that yes the climate scientists are right but we can do nothing about it so let's live with it. Besides, I'm pi$$ed off that I wasn't allowed on the "gravy train".

Too bad we don't have a parallel planet where you can follow the "Pied Piper of Tyndall" to your own planet where you can put out all the CO2 you want, do nothing about it and sit around telling each other about those nasty climate scientists who are scaring everyone with their "lies" about changing climates.

I don't think that planet or at least the people  living on it would be very comfortable in 100 or so years.

So kar98k please pay attention to the question and answer the one I asked and not the one that you think you have a better answer for.

I had no idea a PROFESSOR OF CLIMATE CHANGE at University of East Anglia disqualifies him as a climate scientist. I'm so sorry (note sarcasm). Hulme worked for 12 years at the Climate Research Unit, founded the Tyndall Centre (which environmentalists revered while he was running it, and he's the aforementioned professor on climate change; now you say he's not a climate scientist.

EPIC FAIL, Herr Forrester.

Stop showing your ignorance. Lots of people worked at the CRU but were not climate scientists. Do you not think that they had janitors, secretaries, electricians etc? Do you think that they had to be "climate scientists" to get the job? As I said previously Hulme is a "social scientist", if you don't know the difference then stop wasting our time.

In my view, the big difference is that scientists deal in facts whereas social scientists deal in opinions.

Why do you keep on wasting everyone's time with your nonsense? I get a good laugh when you show everyone that you don't even know what a scientist is. ROTFLMAO

The Tyndall Centre is not a climate science institution but a group of mostly social scientists and civil engineers. I'm sure most of them do good work in that area but it is not "climate science".

And stop the insulting comments. I do not appreciate fools who keep showing their ignorance. It is you who have failed both by showing your ignorance and invoking Godwin's law

The "ignorant" one acting like a "fool" here is YOU; as I'm about to demonstrate. You say lots of people worked at the CLIMATE RESEARCH UNIT but weren't scientists? What would a senior researcher at CRU research? Hmm? For 12 years, Dr. Hulme was just that-a senior researcher at CRU. As for The Tyndall Centre for CLIMATE RESEARCH, I wonder what they researched there while he was director for 7 years? And he's been Professor of CLIMATE CHANGE at UEA's Environmental Sciences school since. 24 years at University of East Anglia studying climate, and you say he's not a climate scientist?

As for the "insulting" remarks, I say you have some nerve. You call me "idiot," "ignorant," "fool," and now that it's clear to anyone with the sense nature gave spider fur who's being "ignorant," you complain about "insults."

It appears that in addition to not knowing the difference between scientists and social scientists he does not understand what "scientific research" is. kara98k, for your information social scientists can do "research" in fact Hulme did lots while he was at CRU and Tyndall. What is is not though was "scientific research", it was "social science research" I can assure you that there is a big difference.

Ever heard of laboratories, test tubes, Bunsen burners, spectrophotometers etc? They are used in "scientific research". Pencil and paper and access to a library is about all you need to do "social science research" Note: I am not belittling social science, only explaining that it is completely different to physical science.

My remarks about your character are honest statements based on your attitude to science, scientists and me. Your insulting remark just shows more of your dishonesty and ignorance. I am not German so your remark was insulting because of the connotations you made. Godwin is not your friend.

Typical troll behaviour, I'm afraid.

So to hopefully conclude this argument, Hulme is not a climate scientist doing climate science but is a social scientist researching possible effects, from a social perspective, from climate change induced by anthropogenic forcings.


You should be permitted to sling all the offensive personal slurs, insults, and pejoratives you want, so long as they're directed at someone you label a "denier." You allow yourself to rationalize this offensive behavior as a "character assessment." Who gets to decide if that label's correct? In your mind, you do; essentially making yourself prosecutor, judge, jury, and jailer. I don't know about anybody else out here, but that's the very mark of arrogance.

One such example is your attempt to invoke "Godwin's law." In your last post, you claim that it's an insult that I adressed you as "Herr Forrester," because you aren't German. Something your arrogant mind didn't consider: I am. Both my parents were born and raised in Germany, and I was born in Kiel, raised there until I was 8. Herr is the German word for "Mr." So, obviously, this whole conversation is all about you, huh.

The fact that this is cyberspace where you don't know or even see who you're talking to isn't a license to mistreat others, nor does their presence grant you the right to misjudge their character.

You are the arrogant one. You admit that you know very little about science yet you come on this blog and slur and smear the honest scientists but support the dishonest and incompetent ones. How do you manage that? You must get your information from denier sites since you are completely unable to make such distinctions on your own.

You put out a lot of nonsense which shows you are wrong but you continue to show us that you know nothing. That is my definition of ignorance and stupidity. You have more than your share of both of these character deficiencies. So don't go crying on about how you were mistreated. You have only yourself to blame, that is if you have the intelligence to see that.

And you lied about why you called me "Herr". You are a despicable person. You may be German but you were insulting me and comparing me to a nasty person in your country's past.

Good bye.

If calling a denier a denier makes you think the deniers have a case then you have no backbone at all. What is wrong with using a word which accurately describes their behaviour?

It is not as if we are lying when we call then deniers. Lots of people deny things as I pointed out to you earlier in this thread. The fact that deniers don't like being called deniers is because it shows how dishonest they are since you cannot deny the science if you are being honest. Thus they know that denialism is synonymous with dishonesty. That is why they dislike the word. I really like the word since it lets people know their motives and how dis-honest they are.

The two sides which you promote are honest science and dishonest rubbish. The fact that you even want me to acknowledge that shows that you are a denier. No honest person would want to have dishonesty brought out.

Your paper by Loehle & Scafetta is easily rebutted by the paper by Foster and  Rahmstorf 2011 Environ. Res. Lett. 6 ( and discussed here:

Try harder next time. At least deniers seem to stick together, I thought it would be too much of a task for you to find a scientist who has a respectable reputation in climate science. You would do a lot better staying away from denier sites and spend your time actually reading texts and papers in the scientific literature (assuming that you do want to understand climate science and what we are doing to the climate). Then you would be able to sort out the wheat from the chaff. You seem to be addicted to chaff.



kar98k lied when he said:

"As for 'defending Willie Soon', when did I ever mention his name, let alone defend him? I think you need to chillax, Ian."

Here is a quote of what you said in this very thread:

"All my comments here, as I'm new to desmogblog, are an independent's viewpoint. The first point is like to raise here concerns the Greenpeace investigation into Dr. Willie Soon's funding. Is there any reason I should trust an extremist org like Greenpeace to "investigate" a scientist with views that are opposite their own? More to the point, can I trust their opinion of the facts culled from that investigation?"

How many more lies is he telling? Quite a few is my guess. Looks like he is in a worse category of troll than "concern troll". The reason Soon is not a repected climate scientist is not because his "views are opposite" but because he is guilty of scientific malfeasance on a grand scale. That is what your "other side" consists of, dishonest scientists like Soon et al.


Willie Soon, is it? What, nobody's permitted to question an investigation from a source who's reliability on such matters is questionable, whose history is notable only for actions of questionable legality and ethics, and (if reports are accurate) in this case the accusation may well be hypocritical.

Questioning the veracity of such an organization's investigation hardly constitutes a "defense" of the subject of that investigation. As for my alleged "lie," I apologize. I forgot I'd even mentioned Soon, especially since most who've answered me seem to take some offense at the notion that most people I know consider Greenpeace an extremist organization. I, nor most people I know, would never contemplate breaking into a research facility to uproot a wheat crop, for instance. If we object to genetically engineered food, we won't buy it. Simple enough.

karr98k lies again:

"If we object to genetically engineered food, we won't buy it. Simple enough."

That is a lie since genetically modified food is not labeled. How would you know what contained it and what didn't? You are just another right wing crank.

You missed the entire point. Rational, sane people don't go breaking into a research facility to destroy a wheat crop. Greenpeace not only so disrespects the property of others, they disrespect other people's right to choose, and brazenly film themselves committing such a crime.

...and I'm not Greenpeace.  I am also quite sane.


Here's your minor warming in very simple terms;


The arctic is melting, and we are looking at scrapping ice breakers as well as using the arctic as a containership shipping lane.


.5 degrees in world average = 5 degrees in the artic.  2 degrees hotter (which is what we've already committed to) means the arctic is going to be 20 degrees hotter.

The melting on Greenland is now accelerating.  My children will not be able to enjoy the beaches of Hawaii by the time they are old.

It's a smokescreen because you failed to adress the actual point. You (among others) object to me referring to Greenpeace as "extremist;" as most ordinary, law-abiding persons do. Rational, sane people don't behave the way Greenpeace has done. If, as you say, labels don't reflect genetically modified foods, rational, sane people lobby industry and governments to make it so. They don't break down security fencing to destroy a wheat crop. They don't deface supermarkets. They don't break into a power plant to "demonstrate how weak security is." They don't break into gas stations to shut down its operation to protest an oil spill (sane people just don't patronize that gas station anymore).

Get the point? Extremists disrespect property and the right of others to choose, not rational people. Greenpeace respects neither property nor anyone's right to choose. They are extremists.

"You (among others) object to me referring to Greenpeace as "extremist;" as most ordinary, law-abiding persons do."

No, you said two intelligence agencies described them as 'extremist'. Knowing denier BS when I see it, I asked you for proof. You couldn't provide it. I ask you again, please provide evidence.

"Rational, sane people don't behave the way Greenpeace has done........sane people lobby industry and governments to make it so. They don't break down security fencing to destroy a wheat crop. They don't deface supermarkets. They don't break into a power plant to "demonstrate how weak security is." They don't break into gas stations to shut down its operation to protest an oil spill (sane people just don't patronize that gas station anymore)."

Strange how a self described fence sitter only has issues with left leaning organisations. Yet you have no problem with people like the Koch trading with Iran while US sanctions were in place. Being convicted of stealing oil from Indian reserves. Falsifying and concealing Benzine venting into the atmosphere. Lax practices that caused the deaths of two teenagers who just happened to be driving by one of their leaks and were incinerated. Bribes. Several cases of massive environmental damage that they tried to get away with.

I'm just touching the surface there & that's just one company. Lets not get started on Exxon.

"Get the point? Extremists disrespect property and the right of others to choose, not rational people."

By your own definition, the Koch's and Exxon are extremists.

My earlier assumption of you is playing out almost to the letter.

...the Koch's and Exxon are extremists." Exactly! Finally, somebody noticed!

"the Koch's and Exxon are extremists." Exactly! Finally, somebody noticed!"

Well, the Koch's are not much liked around these circles I must admit. But despite their attempts to subvert democracy, failure to abide by rules, environmental damage, campaigns of misinformation on an unwitting public, sacking of whistleblowers, stealing, bribing etc etc. I don't think I have ever heard any AGW realist call them an extremist organisation.

I think people too readily use those type of words, when really, it's just hyperbole.


In the day-to-day operations, they aren't "extremists," however, in their political activities (like those you described above) I would use the term. It might surprise you to know I consider most politicians extremists. If you apply my definition, it's not much of a stretch, is it?

Take care, and have a nice day.

kar98k proudly boasts:

"they disrespect other people's right to choose"

You have it all backwards kar98k. I'm not surprised that you are trying to support that other group of multi-national conglomerates who have no respect for our health or well being. It is companies like Monsanto that are "disrespecting other peoples' right to choose" when they refuse to allow distributors to label their products when they contain genetically modified components.

In fact Monsanto even sued a dairy for saying on their labels that their milk was free of rBGH:

So kar98k has finally exposed himself to what he really is, a right wing supporter of selfish and arrogant companies who have no respect for either their customers or everyone else living on this planet. Great company you keep kar98k, I hope they are paying you well for your selfish support of their policies.


You field your 4, versus our 10,000 OK?  (And your dog scientist isn't allowed to bring her BoerHounds, OK.  The farmers used to use those to take down Lions.)


Saying you got a couple of quacks is hardly an accomplishment.  You need more than singular dissenting opinions.


Now before you go and get all defensive... I challenge you to list ALL the scientists who are in your camp.

It won't take you very long.

I also suggest that you double check what their educations are.

Look up what they have published in the field.  Lintzen and co. managed to prop up 12 guys who hadn't done any work in 30 years for their WSJ article.  Presumably they were scared by Michael Crichton's book more than anything.

If they pass that test... check their pay stubs.


The numbers in opposition are vanishingly small.

I never bother with brawls. I'd just bring my GSD's with me. That, and the weapon that my handle's derived from...

You were just kidding about a brawl, I hope.

I was kidding about the brawl but not the numbers, your 4 to our 10,000.


Seriously... add them up.  You got nothing.

Where do get these numbers from?

Line them up and check them out...  It won't take you long.

Here is Trenberth's response to Landsea's criticism. As you can see the Press got it wrong as usual. Why do you never go back to the originals but quote denier web sites or stuff in the popular press? Science is not carried out in either of these fora.



This is a guest post by Kert Davies, cross-posted with permission from Climate Investigations Center.

This week the Heartland Institute will release another chapter of its NIPCC, the “not the IPCC” document that will tell you the opposite of the main message that’s been coming from the prestigious IPCC...

read more