Heartland Institute

Mon, 2012-03-05 07:28Chris Mooney
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Don’t Blame the Victims: Why Public Outreach By Climate Scientists is More Vital Than Ever

In the last few years—and especially in the wake of the ClimateGate pseudo-scandal—climate researchers have become much more politically engaged. They’ve sought to become better at communication, and to have a greater influence on public policy. They’ve tried to establish rapid response capabilities, and also, better ways of protecting themselves from political harassment and lawsuits.

This didn’t happen by accident. It happened because there has been a long term campaign to attack and discredit climate science, and obscure what we actually know. Ultimately, researchers decided that they couldn’t just be silent as their knowledge was distorted, or as their colleagues were attacked.

So what did they do? Just what Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan would have done—and in fact, did repeatedly on the public issues of their day. They spoke out.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is essential. Scientific knowledge is a powerful thing, which is precisely why it is of vital importance that it gets communicated, accurately, in such a way as to influence public policy. If that isn’t happening, then not only is it natural for scientists to step up—they have a moral obligation to do so, and to do so effectively.

Thu, 2012-03-01 11:36Steve Horn
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Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire

It is nearly impossible to discuss the vast climate change denial echo chamber and not mention the Koch BrothersKoch Industries, and what some have called the Koch Empire.

Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute – whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog – have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.

It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.

David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 and originally funded by Charles Koch, of Koch Industries fame and fortune.

It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugsanti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its “Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies.”

One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.

In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.

Wed, 2012-02-29 15:59Graham Readfearn
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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.
 
Tue, 2012-02-28 08:12Richard Littlemore
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Fake Heartland "Scientist" Infiltrates Canadian University

Bogus climate course “a source of embarrassment to the institution”

An energy industry public relations man and lobbyist with no background in climate science has infiltrated Carleton University in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, teaching a course on climate change denial that other Carleton professors describe as “a source of embarrassment to the institution.”

Tom Harris, who originally trained as a mechanical engineer, has been a strategist for the climate change denial industry for at least a decade. A favourite presenter misrepresented as a PhD at the Heartland Institute’s regular climate change denial conferences, Harris has worked directly for companies like the international PR giant APCO Worldwide or for energy industry lobby firms such as Toronto’s High Park Group. More recently, he has launched or led at least three phony “grassroots organizations” – energy industry front groups that promote confusion or denial in climate science.

Now, Harris is teaching at Carleton, passing on a mix of climate denial mythology and flat out fiction, telling students that the planet isn’t really warming, that (if it is), humans aren’t to blame, that (if they are) if might be a good thing and that, regardless, it’s just too complicated for mere scientists to figure out. (“The climate problem is so difficult that we might never solve it.”)

Harris’s ridiculous claims have been laid bare in a new report by the Canadian Committee for the Advancement of Scientific Skepticism (CASS), which has gone through videotapes of lectures from Climate Change: An Earth Sciences Perspective (ERTH2402), identifying 142 errors, exaggerations or outright prevarications.

Sat, 2012-02-25 15:40Richard Littlemore
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Heartland Funding Disinformation Echo Chamber

The Heartland Institute has been using its corporate funding to create an echo chamber of experts-for-hire, subsidiary think tanks and websites which all work together to rebroadcast information in Heartland's manufactured controversy about climate change.

In the last week, Heartland has been able to rely on this network - and on its own considerable skill as a propaganda machine - to deflect responsibility for the recent revelations of its own improprieties.

The Heartland Valentine's Day document dump included Budget and Fundraising documents that confirm, for example, that in addition to keeping a stable of pseudo experts on retainer to challenge the world's foremost authorities on climate change, Heartland also makes large and regular investments in other organizations, such as the web-based climate-change denier (and weather man) Anthony Watts.

Watts, in turn, has stepped up this week as the Heartland public relations department, putting his WUWT site at Heartland's disposal for the release of statements and generally defending his benefactor and attacking its detractors.

Fri, 2012-02-24 17:48Brendan DeMelle
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Republic Report Slams Media Obsession With Shiny Penny In Heartland DenialGate Coverage

Lee Fang at the Republic Report has a great post noting the media's obsession with the shiny penny of the who/how story surrounding the leaked documents chronicling the Heartland Institute's planned attacks on science and democracy.  

While groups like Greenpeace, The Climate Reality Project and Forecast the Facts are focused on exposing the real scandals uncovered in Denialgate, most mainstream media outlets are mesmerized with the Peter Gleick saga rather than reporting on the revelations within the documents.

The debate about what Gleick did to acquire the internal documents from Heartland will surely rage on. It will make good fodder for university students in ethics and journalism classes for years to come.

But as Republic Report points out, it is hardly the most vital aspect of the story for mainstream media outlets to prioritize coverage on right now. That is, if the mainstream media are truly reporting what's in the public interest, rather than chasing advertising revenue through scandal-mongering.

Fang writes: 

While bending this story away from a focus on Heartland’s M.O. and onto Gleick’s methods might seem like an impossible task, it seems as [if] the media is taking the hook firmly in its mouth.  

The real question the media should be considering is not how Gleick got his hands on a few documents, but how to cover Heartland — both how it has covered it in the past and how it will in the future.

Head over to Republic Report to read the rest, it's spot on in my opinion. And bookmark RepublicReport.org, a must-read new site launched in recent months to expose the corporate cash corrupting democracy. It's a rockstar team of investigators surely worth following closely. 

Fri, 2012-02-24 07:27Richard Littlemore
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Heartland: Selling Out Science in School

Thu, 2012-02-23 23:56Richard Littlemore
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What passes for a Brain Trust at Heartland?

Has beens, also-rans, deniers-for-hire on retainer at “think tank”

Update: 13th scientist disavows Heartland connection (See: Watkins at bottom of this post)

The Heartland Institute maintains a stable of 13 scientists on retainer for the express purpose of attacking the work of the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), according to budget information released last week in the Heartland document dump.

The scientists, ranging from one of the world's least credible deniers-for-hire (Dr. S. Fred Singer) to a sessional lecturer on the evolution and history of the domestic dog (Susan Crockford), include no top climate scientists currently publishing in the peer-reviewed literature.

The best paid “expert” on the Heartland list is Craig Idso, a former Director of Environmental Science at Peabody Energy (the largest coal company in the world). Heartland pays Idso $11,600 a month through his Center for the Study of CO2 & Global Change, which like the Heartland Institute, has charitable status and therefore operates with an effective subsidy from the American taxpayer. (Funny how quick libertarians are to fleece old Uncle Sam when THEY get to kick the money back to their rich friends.)

Thu, 2012-02-23 13:56Richard Littlemore
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At Heartland's law firm: "Carbon Matters"

Levenfeld Pearlstein, the law firm that has stepped up to pass on complaints about the publication of leaked Heartland Institute documents, appears to be one of the greenest in Chicago. For example, James Brusslan, head of the Environmental Services Group at Levenfeld Pearlstein, says companies should act now to prevent climate change because:

The IPCC has determined with virtual certainty that humans are the cause of significant global warming due to increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), including carbon dioxide and methane. Many scientists believe if we do not take action quickly, the impact could be catastrophic.

It would be interesting to know how Brussland gets along with Michael Padden, son of the Heartland Institute's founder David Padden and author of the most recent letter asking the DeSmogBlog to take down the document that describes, accurately and succinctly, Heartland's Climate Strategy for 2012.

Wed, 2012-02-22 15:48Brendan Demelle and Richard Littlemore
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Evaluation shows "Faked" Heartland Climate Strategy Memo is Authentic

A line-by-line evaluation of the Climate Strategy memo, which the Heartland Institute has repeatedly denounced as a “fake” shows no “obvious and gross misstatements of fact,” as Heartland has alleged. On the contrary, the Climate Strategy document is corroborated by Heartland’s own material and/or by its allies and employees.

It also uses phrases, language and, in many cases, whole sentences that were taken directly from Heartland’s own material. Only someone who had previous access to all of that material could have prepared the Climate Strategy in its current form.

In all the circumstances – taking into account Peter Gleick’s explanation of the origin of the Heartland documents, and in direct contradiction of Heartland’s stated position – DeSmogBlog has concluded that the Climate Strategy memo is authentic. 

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