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KaPow! Heartland Battles Back Against New York Times Smear Piece

Heartland Institute 21 February 2012 One Comment

Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman authored a piece in the New York Times today titled “Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science.” I say “authored” and not “reported,” because this story is filled with false assertions, innuendo, and outright lies. I will break it down, from the top.

Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science

Actually, we’ve produced more sound research on climate change than all but a very small number of very elite government and university-based organizations. Climate Change Reconsidered  alone is 2 volumes totaling more than 1,200 pages of pure science and economic analysis.

 is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools,

Actually, we’re trying to make the “teaching of global warming” much more rigorous by replacing propaganda and agenda-driven rhetoric with real science.

 the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars.

“Culture wars”? we aren’t part of the religious right!! I suspect the reporter has a key programmed to spit out this line whenever writing about a “conservative” group!

 The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet. “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” one document said.

 

Actually, we’re sharing the real opinions of real scientists on the causes, consequences, and likely future trajectory of climate change, and of economists and other policy experts on what should be done about it, if anything. And of course principals and teachers are biased… most are liberal Democrats, and large majorities of liberal Democrats believe in man-made global warming.

 

While the documents offer a rare glimpse of the internal thinking motivating the campaign against climate science, defenders of science education were preparing for battle even before the leak. Efforts to undermine climate-science instruction are beginning to spread across the country, they said, and they fear a long fight similar to that over the teaching of evolution in public schools.

“A rare glimpse”? We’ve been completely open about our efforts to oppose global warming alarmism, writing repeatedly about it in our newsletter the Heartlander, in our monthly public policy newspaper Environment & Climate News, in the prefaces of the two volumes of Climate Change Reconsidered, and many other places. The lamestream media have censored us, completely refused to report on our activities, and now they report a “rare glimpse” of what we’re up to? Please! We’ve hosted 6 international conferences attended by over 3,000 people. I’ve given opening remarks at every one. What we are doing is no secret, in fact has been highly effective.

 In a statement, the Heartland Institute acknowledged that some of its internal documents had been stolen. But it said its president had not had time to read the versions being circulated on the Internet on Tuesday and Wednesday and was therefore not in a position to say whether they had been altered.  Heartland did declare one two-page document to be a forgery, although its tone and content closely matched that of other documents that the group did not dispute.

This is a false statement that we will demand be retracted. There is no “match.” The forged memo attributes motives and describes projects that are purely mythical and totally false.

 In an apparent confirmation that much of the material, more than 100 pages, was authentic, the group apologized to donors whose names became public as a result of the leak.

We are apologizing because some donors were named, not because the document is authentic. We do not yet know if this document, and others that were stolen, have been modified before they were posted.

 The documents included many details of the group’s operations, including salaries, recent personnel actions and fund-raising plans and setbacks. They were sent by e-mail to leading climate activists this week by someone using the name “Heartland insider” and were quickly reposted to many climate-related Web sites.

The stolen and forged documents were immediately posted, apparently by DeSmogBlog within HOURS of the forged document being written, with no effort made to contact us to assess their authenticity. Some were plainly marked “confidential,” and they were obviously stolen documents. It was an extreme lapse of journalistic ethics, and in some cases probably a criminal act, for many bloggers and “journalists” to do this. DeSmogBlog continues to keep the documents on its Web site.

 Heartland said the documents were not from an insider but were obtained by a caller pretending to be a board member of the group who was switching to a new e-mail address. “We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes,” the organization said. Although best-known nationally for its attacks on climate science, Heartland styles itself as a libertarian organization with interests in a wide range of public-policy issues. The documents say that it expects to raise $7.7 million this year.

“Styles itself”? We in fact address a wide range of topics, and always have. Our work on climate change is less than a quarter of our annual budget. We are major players on school reform, health care reform, and telecom issues. Geeze!

 The documents raise questions about whether the group has undertaken partisan political activities, a potential violation of federal tax law governing nonprofit groups. For instance, the documents outline “Operation Angry Badger,” a plan to spend $612,000 to influence the outcome of recall elections and related fights this year in Wisconsin over the role of public-sector unions.

We are doing educational programs on Wisconsin’s collective bargaining reform, which is obviously within our 501(c)3 designation.

 Tax lawyers said Wednesday that tax-exempt groups were allowed to undertake some types of lobbying and political education, but that because they are subsidized by taxpayers, they are prohibited from direct involvement in political campaigns.

Absolutely nothing in the memo suggested or implied “direct involvement in political campaigns.” This is a red herring, a slur masquerading as an “observation.”

 The documents also show that the group has received money from some of the nation’s largest corporations, including several that have long favored action to combat climate change.

The documents typically say that those donations were earmarked for projects unrelated to climate change, like publishing right-leaning newsletters on drug and technology policy. Nonetheless, several of the companies hastened on Wednesday to disassociate themselves from the organization’s climate stance.

“We absolutely do not endorse or support their views on the environment or climate change,” said Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational drug company shown in the documents as contributing $50,000 in the past two years to support a medical newsletter.

A spokesman for Microsoft, another listed donor, said that the company believes that “climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate worldwide action.” The company is shown in the documents as having contributed $59,908 last year to a Heartland technology newsletter. But the Microsoft spokesman, Mark Murray, said the gift was not a cash contribution but rather the value of free software, which Microsoft gives to thousands of nonprofit groups.

Gosh, maybe Heartland really does devote three-quarters of its efforts to issues other than global warming, which is why three-quarters of its donors have no interest in global warming. But no, that possibility was rejected earlier.

 Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Heartland documents was what they did not contain: evidence of contributions from the major publicly traded oil companies, long suspected by environmentalists of secretly financing efforts to undermine climate science.

The one and only completely truthful line in this article.

 But oil interests were nonetheless represented. The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year. Mr. Koch is one of two brothers who have been prominent supporters of libertarian causes as well as other charitable endeavors. They control Koch Industries, one of the country’s largest private companies and a major oil refiner.

Why not report, as others have, that the $25,000 gift was earmarked for our work on health care, not climate change? Or that the increase is similarly expected to be earmarked for health care reform?

 The documents suggest that Heartland has spent several million dollars in the past five years in its efforts to undermine climate science, much of that coming from a person referred to repeatedly in the documents as “the Anonymous Donor.” A guessing game erupted Wednesday about who that might be.

Our mission is not to “undermine climate science,” and even a superficial examination of our corpus of work should persuade anyone with half a brain that we are sincere. Our mission is to report climate science (and economics) more objectively than the environmentalists and left-wing nuts who are using the issue to support their legislative agendas.

 The documents say that over four years ending in 2013, the group expects to have spent some $1.6 million on financing the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, an entity that publishes periodic reports attacking climate science and holds lavish annual conferences. (Environmental groups refer to the conferences as “Denialpalooza.”)

It’s astounding that this would appear in a “news” story. We are not “attacking climate science,” we are defending it from advocates of an unrelated social and economic agenda. The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate change (NIPCC) does not  “host lavish annual conferences.” I’m not sure it has ever held a conference. Heartland, though, has hosted 6 international conferences. And the only organization that calls these conferences “Denialpalooza” is DeSmogBlog, which is not an environmental group but a for-profit PR firm created to attack conservatives and libertarians.

Heartland’s latest idea, the documents say, is a plan to create a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science and budgeted at $200,000 this year. The curriculum would claim, for instance, that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy.”

It is in fact not a scientific controversy. The vast majority of climate scientists say that emissions generated by humans are changing the climate and putting the planet at long-term risk, although they are uncertain about the exact magnitude of that risk. Whether and how to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases has become a major political controversy in the United States, however.

The first clause is simply false. No survey of climate scientists exists that supports this claim. The second part is honest – there is extensive uncertainty about how much risk and whether it merits action. This is a rare admission by the New York Times.

 The National Center for Science Education, a group that has had notable success in fighting for accurate teaching of evolution in the public schools, has recently added climate change to its agenda in response to pleas from teachers who say they feel pressure to water down the science.

Great, another left-wing organization wants to politicize curriculum. Heartland has never commented on the teaching of evolution, and we want to upgrade, not “water down,” how climate is taught in schools.

Mark S. McCaffrey, programs and policy director for the group, which is in Oakland, Calif., said the Heartland documents revealed that “they continue to promote confusion, doubt and debate where there really is none.”

Steven Yaccino contributed reporting from Chicago.

Read more at the Heartland Institute

One Comment »

  • KaPow! Heartland vs. NY Times « Blithe Spirit said:

    [...] Textbook example of decapitating opponent. Heartland Inst. shows the way. Share this:MoreLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a comment [...]

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