The Heartland Institute is a right-wing organization originally created in the oh-so appropriate year of 1984 in part to downplay the danger of smoking. When that gig started drying up in the 90s they had to find new donors and a new cause, fast. One of the biggest clients they landed was the fossil fuel industry, interested in using similar tactics to combat pollution regulations and especially the growing body of data on climate change.
This month internal documents reportedly from Heartland came to light showing the disturbing lengths to which the institute would go to further their sponsors' interests. Via the Wiki:
The documents showed that the institute planned to provide climate sceptical materials to teachers in the USA to promote their ideas to school children. Furthermore, it can also be read, that climate sceptics were being paid by The Heartland Institute, namely the founder of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), physicist Fred Singer ($5,000 plus expenses per month), geologist Robert Carter ($1,667 per month) and a single pledge of $90,000 to meteorologist Anthony Watts.
Prof. Naomi Oreskes, coauthor of The Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
, added via email, "The recently released documents confirm what many scholars had suspected: that the Heartland institute continues the disinformation techniques originated by the tobacco industry. Moreover, the documents suggest that, if anything, their tactics have become even more reprehensible, moving from targeting adults who might chose to smoke, to children, in their classrooms, trying to learn."
DeSmogBlog has been doing a bang up job on the many angles of this developing story. One of the more comical is the glaring double standard in the video above and, this month, by Heartland below. An excerpt of the institute's legal shills threatening DeSmogBlog:
Several of the documents say on their face that they are confidential documents and all of them were taken from Heartland by improper and fraudulent means. Publication of any and all confidential or altered documents is improper and unlawful. ... Heartland views the malicious and fraudulent manner in which the documents were obtained and/or thereafter disseminated, as well as the repeated blogs about them, as providing the basis for civil actions ...
Those same Heartland bozos had a very different view on the emails stolen from climate scientists in 2009
The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. ... This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly. ... For anyone who doubts the power of the Internet to shine light on darkness, the news of the month is how digital technology helped uncover a secretive group of scientists who suppressed data, froze others out of the debate, and flouted freedom-of-information laws.
But what's really important to keep in mind is the earth is warming, the temperature record compiled by NASA
-- and confirmed by virtually every major earth science org including once skeptical
climate scientists -- is crystal clear. Fox News and Heartland's past actions, together with their "evolving" position on leaked documents, clearly indicate both are among the dozens of well funded organizations dedicated to spreading misinformation about that fact. And while Heartland may have taken a bit of a black eye here, they'll likely survive. Along with their increasingly powerful allies in the conservative War on Science, and any thing else deemed inconvenient in the insular boardrooms inhabited by America's zillionaire elite.