The US “Think Tank,” The Heartland Institute has been getting some mail since some of its documents revealing plans to undermine climate change science and its teaching were leaked to the media. These documents also details some of the payments being made to climate change denial authors and blogs.
Of course they have cried foul – even claimed one of the leaked documents is not authentic. Then again, denial is hardly new for them – they have been doing it since their days denying the scientific facts showing dangers of tobacco smoking.
Now they have received a letter from some of the climate scientists they have in the past denigrated. these scientists express their condolences, having experienced something similar a few years back, but suggest that perhaps the Institute should learn from its mistakes, change tack, and start to play a more honest and constructive role on the issue of climate change.
An Open Letter to the Heartland Institute
Here’s the text of their letter:
As scientists who have had their emails stolen, posted online and grossly misrepresented, we can appreciate the difficulties the Heartland Institute is currently experiencing following the online posting of the organization’s internal documents earlier this week. However, we are greatly disappointed by their content, which indicates the organization is continuing its campaign to discredit mainstream climate science and to undermine the teaching of well-established climate science in the classroom.
We know what it feels like to have private information stolen and posted online via illegal hacking. It happened to climate researchers in 2009 and again in 2011. Personal emails were culled through and taken out of context before they were posted online. In 2009, the Heartland Institute was among the groups that spread false allegations about what these stolen emails said.
Despite multiple independent investigations, which demonstrated that allegations against scientists were false, the Heartland Institute continued to attack scientists based on the stolen emails. When more stolen emails were posted online in 2011, the Heartland Institute again pointed to their release and spread false claims about scientists.
So although we can agree that stealing documents and posting them online is not an acceptable practice, we would be remiss if we did not point out that the Heartland Institute has had no qualms about utilizing and distorting emails stolen from scientists.
We hope the Heartland Institute will heed its own advice to “think about what has happened” and recognize how its attacks on science and scientists have helped poison the debate over climate change policy. The Heartland Institute has chosen to undermine public understanding of basic scientific facts and personally attack climate researchers rather than engage in a civil debate about climate change policy options.
These are the facts: Climate change is occurring. Human activity is the primary cause of recent climate change. Climate change is already disrupting many human and natural systems. The more heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions that go into the atmosphere, the more severe those disruptions will become. Major scientific assessments from the Royal Society, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, United States Global Change Research Program and other authoritative sources agree on these points.
What businesses, policymakers, advocacy groups and citizens choose to do in response to those facts should be informed by the science. But those decisions are also necessarily informed by economic, ethical, ideological, and other considerations. While the Heartland Institute is entitled to its views on policy, we object to its practice of spreading misinformation about climate research and personally attacking climate scientists to further its goals.
We hope the Heartland Institute will begin to play a more constructive role in the policy debate.
Refraining from misleading attacks on climate science and climate researchers would be a welcome first step toward having an honest, fact-based debate about the policy responses to climate change.
Ray Bradley, PhD, Director of the Climate System Research Center, University of Massachusetts David Karoly, PhD, ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia
Michael Mann, PhD, Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University
Jonathan Overpeck, PhD, Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Ben Santer, PhD, Research Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Gavin Schmidt, PhD, Climate Scientist, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Kevin Trenberth, ScD, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Thanks to The Guardian: Heartland Institute faces fresh scrutiny over tax status.
Heartland Climate Operation Deserves Scrutiny
Meanwhile, Republicans, well at least The Republicans for Environmental Protection, are calling for some detailed scrutiny of the actions of the Heartland Institute on the issue of climate science.
Here’s the text of their letter:
February 17, 2012
After a recent leak of internal Heartland Institute documents describing a purported campaign to sow doubt about climate change science, Heartland claimed one of the documents might be fake, threatened anyone who even comments on the leak with legal action, and vowed to seek compensation for damage to its reputation.
Such heavy-handed posturing should not dissuade journalists and commentators from thoroughly covering the leaked documents and reporting on the efforts of Heartland and others to manufacture a scientific controversy about climate change where none exists.
Heartland’s moral outrage about leaked documents this past week was glaringly absent following the 2009 release of hacked climate scientists’ e-mails that was dubbed “climategate.” In fact, it fully participated in a media campaign that misrepresented the e-mails and raised unfounded questions about scientists’ integrity.
Heartland, a PR and lobbying organization, runs well-funded campaigns that seek to persuade Americans that peer-reviewed scientific research regarding climate change is suspect and that the conclusions of such research should be ignored. Its efforts in the so-called “climategate” controversy were more of the same.
Subsequent investigations by independent experts, of course, showed that the sensational “climategate” allegations against scientists were groundless. The “climategate” brouhaha was a manufactured controversy—which, unfortunately, accomplished its goal of sowing public doubt and confusion about climate science.
Now the shoe is on the other foot, and if the leaked Heartland documents are authentic, they leave no room for interpretation.
Heartland’s strategy, and its reliance on funding from individuals who have a vested interest in undermining climate science, must be brought to the public’s attention to at least the same degree as the so-called “climategate” emails were. The opinions and knowledge of far too many Americans remain influenced by erroneous reporting about the content of those e-mails.
The Heartland documents detail plans to prevent earnest scientific research and opinions other than their own from gaining public exposure. They even go so far as to gin up a science curriculum designed to “dissuade” public schoolteachers from teaching science—a shocking plan to undermine education and turn our public schools into mouthpieces for agenda-driven propaganda.
While Heartland has done commendable work in other policy areas, such as risk management, its climate operation has become a public relations servant of special interests—sowing confusion, misrepresenting science, and spreading distortions that pollute what should be a robust, fact-based debate about climate change.
That’s not conservative. As William F. Buckley once said, “Conservatism implies a certain submission to reality.”
Climate change is an opportunity for conservative organizations to actually be conservative, by acknowledging facts and laying on the table conservative policies for dealing with the climate issue.
If any of the released Heartland documents are not authentic, Heartland should be able and willing to provide solid proof. If, as the evidence seems to indicate, the documents are real, the media has an obligation to report on the plans they describe and their troubling implications for a democratic society.
Republicans for Environmental Protection
The tax man may also be interested
And The Guardian also reports there has been “complaint to the Internal Revenue Service about Heartland’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.” This may be based on evidence in these documents that the Heartland Institute has involved itself in political activity specifically prohibited by their tax-exempt status.