Oil funded Heartland pleads innocence

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The Heartland Institute, a notorious US climate change skeptic group, responded to a letter the DeSmogBlog team recently penned for the Philadelphia Daily News. Creating a perception of impartiality is their theme on the issue of tobacco and climate change science. Is it then just a coincidence that the same groups funded by oil money, such as Heartland, are the same groups “skeptical” about climate change?

Here are the facts on Heartland’s funding. You be the judge as to their objectivity on the issue of climate change:
        • $561,500 from Exxon Mobil
        • Over $400,000 from oil money-backed foundations

True to form, Heartland tries to bring into question the DeSmogBlog’s motivations and credibility by attacking our funding source, the Lefebvre Foundation, whose money is derived from the former President of the secure online transaction service NeTeller, John Lefebvre. Sorry Heartland, nice try. I know it is hard to understand that some people do what they do for reasons other than economic gain.
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I would have liked to read your letter to the Philadelphia Daily News. The link you provided only leads to their front page, and they’ve got your letter behind a pay wall. How about reprinting it here?

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the interest. I am not sure of copyright and going past the pay wall – so here is the letter I submitted that has Heartland’s knickers in a knot.

- Kevin

Who are we to believe? Gore or Heartland Institute?

Joseph Bast, president of the Heartland Institute, wrote an opinion piece that appeared in today’s Philadelphia Daily News, asking readers whom they would believe, Al Gore or scientists.

It is interesting to observe that the cadre of scientists Bast refers to as proof that Gore is wrong seems to be getting smaller and their collective expertise in the area of climate change continues to diminish as more and more jump off the climate denial bandwagon. For instance, Bast claims Tim Ball, former professor at the University of Winnipeg, to be an “expert” on climate change, when in fact Dr. Ball has not published any research in a peer-reviewed science journal in the last 20 years.

All this becomes even more questionable when you question the source of this article, Joseph Bast himself. When the Heartland Institute, of which Bast is the President, isn’t attacking climate change science, they spend their time attacking the science behind the negative effects of tobacco smoke. Not really a surprise when you learn that Heartland has been an industry sponsored PR front for the tobacco industry for many years.

I guess it also comes as no surprise, that much like the other self-professed “non-partisan” and objective US think tanks like the George C. Marshall Institute, the Hudson Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heartland Institute with Mr. Bast at helm, has received hundreds of thousands from oil interests over the years.

A glance at Bast’s list of scientists reveals Robert Balling, who has been funded by coal and mining companies, Sallie Baliunas, whose work has been funded by the American Petroleum Institute and John Christy who has been sponsored by the extremely conservative, contrarian and oil-backed Marshall Institute, among others.

So the question shouldn’t be whether I believe Gore. It should be: why would anybody believe anything Bast writes? As the old saying goes, fool me once…