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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something is Rotten in the Heartland: The Science of denial paid for by Big Business

In a very interesting development a batch of documents have been leaked out of the anti global warming think tank the Heartland group. I included this here as this group is well known to us in the civil litigation world as an offspring of the now discredited Tobacco Institute hilariously portrayed in the movie "Thank you for smoking" The groups are discussed at lenght in the 2005 Scientific America article Doubt is their product by David Micheal  (  and the Darker Side of Daubert by Ned Miltenberg.

As stated in Scientific America:

Few scientific challenges are more complex than understanding the health risks of a chemical or drug. Investigators cannot feed toxic compounds to people to see what doses cause cancer. Instead laboratory researchers rely on animal tests, and epidemiologists examine the human exposures that have already happened in the field. Both types of studies have many uncertainties, and scientists must extrapolate from the evidence to make causal inferences and recommend protective measures. Because absolute certainty is rarely an option, regulatory programs would not be effective if such proof were required. Government officials have to use the best available evidence to set limits for harmful chemicals and determine the safety of pharmaceuticals.

Uncertainty is an inherent problem of science, but manufactured uncertainty is another matter entirely. Over the past three decades, industry groups have frequently become involved in the investigative process when their interests are threatened. If, for example, studies show that a company is exposing its workers to dangerous levels of a certain chemical, the business typically responds by hiring its own researchers to cast doubt on the studies. Or if a pharmaceutical firm faces questions about the safety of one of its drugs, its executives trumpet company-sponsored trials that show no significant health risks while ignoring or hiding other studies that are much less reassuring. The vilification of threatening research as "junk science" and the corresponding sanctification of industry-commissioned research as "sound science" has become nothing less than standard operating procedure in some parts of corporate America.

The trend has been enough to alarm scientist all over the world. It is nothing new as the entire purpose of some groups like the Tobacco institute was to create uncertainly. Will smoking kill you, well maybe maybe not. The same ploy was done in industrial settings with Asbestos, Silicosis, benzene poisoning, MTBE, you name it. You publish something other than corporate America's line you may get a visit from a real man in black, threatening your funding, or your life. Whistle blowers end up more often than not, dead in a ditch like Karen Silkwood, or hiding out in fear like Jeffery Wigand. Every big business has their "go to" guys. Just like Coast residents found out what many of knew for years State farm and Allstate have Hagee Engineering and Rimkus ready to do their bidding among others. We were starting to see a little behind that curtain, when Scruggs stepped over the line. What really happened we all know but know can never prove. No indictments, even though the documents were admittedly forged. What a country!

 So now we get a look behind the veil in the "anti climate change industry" and one of their foot soldiers Heartland.

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

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Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.
We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more.

-Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999.

The January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states:
We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”
-Heartland Institute’s global warming denial machine is chiefly – and perhaps entirely – funded by one Anonymous donor:
Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012…”
-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians.
funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”

-As Brad Johnson reported today at ThinkProgress, confirmation that Heartland is working with David Wojick, a U.S. Energy Department contract worker and coal industry consultant, to develop a ‘Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools.’
-Forbes and other business press are favored outlets for Heartland’s dissemination of climate denial messages, and the group is worried about maintaining that exclusive space. They note in particular the work of Dr. Peter Gleick:
Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.” (emphasis added)
Note the irony here that Heartland Institute – one of the major mouthpieces behind the debunked ‘Climategate’ email theft who harped about the suppression of denier voices in peer-reviewed literature – now defending its turf in the unscientific business magazine realm.
-Interesting mentions of Andrew Revkin as a potential ally worth “cultivating,” along with Judith Curry.
Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters).”
-Confirmation that skeptic blogger Anthony Watts is part of Heartland’s funded network of misinformation communicators.
We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.”
Stay tuned for more details as DeSmogBlog and others dig through this trove of Heartland Institute documents. The Heartland Institute's legacy of evasion of this level of transparency and accountability has now been shattered. 
Read the documents [all PDF]:
January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy
Minutes of January 17 board meeting (.doc)

Agenda for January 17, 2012 Board Meeting

Board Meeting Package January 17, 2012

Board Directory January 2012

Binder 1 (maybe overlap with above documents)

2012 Heartland Budget
2012 Heartland Fundraising Plan
2010 Heartland IRS Form 990 (public document)
Stay tuned… see also DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore's coverage.

2012 Climate Strategy.pdf96.54 KB
Minutes of January 17 meeting.doc50.84 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf7.47 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf12.51 KB
Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf8.49 KB
Binder1.pdf67.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget.pdf126.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf91.32 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990.pdf2.7 MB

Heartland Institute's Leaked Documents Reveal Climate Skepticism Efforts

More than $14 million of the money used by the Chicago-based Heartland Institute would come from one anonymous man, according to the leaked documents prepared for a meeting of the group's board.
Heartland is one of the loudest voices denying man-made global warming, hosting the largest international scientific conference of skeptics on climate change. Several of its documents were leaked this week to the news media, showing the planning and money behind its efforts. Heartland said some of the documents weren't accurate, but declined to be more specific.
As detailed in the papers, Heartland's plans for this year included paying an Energy Department consultant $100,000 to design a curriculum to teach school children that mainstream global warming science is in dispute, even though it's a fact accepted by the federal government and nearly every scientific professional organization. It also pays prominent global warming skeptics more than $300,000 a year and plans to raise $88,000 to help a former television weatherman set up a new temperature records website.
"The stolen documents appear to have been written by Heartland's president for a board meeting that took place on Jan. 17," Heartland said in a statement. "The authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed." The institute singled out one of the six documents — claiming to be a summary of efforts on the issue of global warming — as a fake.
Because Heartland was not specific about what was fake and what was real, The Associated Press attempted to verify independently key parts of separate budget and fundraising documents that were leaked. The federal consultant working on the classroom curriculum, the former TV weatherman, a Chicago elected official who campaigns against hidden local debt and two corporate donors all confirmed to the AP that the sections in the document that pertained to them were accurate. No one the AP contacted said the budget or fundraising documents mentioning them were incorrect.
David Wojick, a Virginia-based federal database contractor, said in an email that the document was accurate about his project to put curriculum materials in schools that promote climate skepticism.
"My goal is to help them teach one of the greatest scientific debates in history," Wojick said. "This means teaching both sides of the science, more science, not less."
Five government and university climate scientists contacted said they were most disturbed by Wojick's project, fearing the teaching would be more propaganda rooted in politics than peer-reviewed science.
Businesses and other interests often offer free curriculum materials to financially strapped schools, hoping that teachers will use them and help disseminate their views or promote their products.
Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said Wojick's federal work has nothing to do with climate change and that the agency maintains that global warming is real and manmade.
Heartland also planned to spend $210,000 to help Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas tour the nation to speak about municipal debt, according to one document. Pappas lost to Barack Obama in the 2004 Democratic primary for a U.S. Senate seat. Pappas confirmed this in a phone interview, saying what Heartland was doing was exposing a "financial tsunami" of municipal debt.
The leaked document also discusses a new million-dollar Heartland initiative to promote the ability of patients to use experimental drugs that have not yet received federal safety approval, and efforts to support embattled Wisconsin Republican leaders in "Operation Angry Badger." Those parts of the documents were not independently confirmed.
The documents also show Heartland has raised more than $2 million from large insurance companies and nearly half a million dollars from tobacco interests.
A person who emailed 15 media and bloggers as "Heartland insider" sent six different documents purporting to be from the libertarian think tank. The insider then killed the email account used to send the documents and could not be reached. Heartland spokesman Jim Lakely would not confirm or deny the claims made in the five documents that he did not call fake.
The most sensational parts of the documents — and much of what has been confirmed independently — had to do with global warming and efforts to spread doubt into what mainstream scientists are saying. Experts long have thought Heartland and other groups were working to muddy the waters about global warming, said Harry Lambright, a Syracuse University public policy professor who specializes in environment, science and technology issues.
"Scientifically there is no controversy. Politically, there is a controversy because there are political interest groups making it a controversy," Lambright said. "It's not about science. It's about politics. To some extent they are winning the battle."
A 2010 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences surveyed more than 1,300 most cited and published climate scientists and found that 97 percent of them said climate change was a man-made problem. Yet, public opinion polls show far more doubt in the American public.
An environmental advocacy group, Forecast the Facts, on Thursday started a petition and social media campaign to complain to two of Heartland's corporate donors listed on the documents, Microsoft and General Motors. The two were not the biggest donors; Microsoft donated $69,000 over three years, while the General Motors Foundation gave $45,000. But those are companies that "need to hear from their customers" that they are not happy about promoting climate skepticism, especially after General Motors got a government bailout, campaign director Daniel Souweine said.
General Motors spokesman Greg Martin said the company's foundation gives money to "a variety of different groups holding a variety of opinions." Microsoft said through its public relations agency that it donates software to 44,000 nonprofits that pass IRS standards, as Heartland does, and that it considers climate change a serious issue.
The documents showed how heavily Heartland relies on a single person it identified only as "Anonymous Donor." In the past six years, the man has given $14.26 million to the institute, nearly half its $33.9 million in revenue.
Heartland Institute:
Forecast the Facts campaign against Heartland donors:

Democracy in America

THE Economist: American politics

Climate-change scepticism

Trouble in the Heartland

Feb 15th 2012, 17:29 by J.A. | LONDON
ASSUMING they are substantially authentic, the trove of confidential documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Chicago, leaked to the blogosphere on February 14th provide an interesting view of one of Americas more prominent agents of climate-change scepticism.
The documents were first published on the DeSmogBlog, which claimed to have got them from a Heartland insider. They have since been gleefully scoured by various online newspapers and bloggers, including the Carbon Brief, which have highlighted the following alleged revelations.
• The Heartland Institute provides $300,000 a year in stipends to the climate-sceptical Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), apparently to help it question and counter the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The NIPCC, which holds regular shindigs for sceptical scientists in New York and Washington, claims to be an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change.
• The Heartland Institute is considering paying a sometime consultant for the Department of Energy up to $100,000 a year to produce teaching materials designed to spread climate-change scepticism. David Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the department in the area of information and communication science. He was allegedly hired to write modules, for $5,000 apiece, that could fit into the existing science curriculum in such a way as to stress doubts over the basic verities of climate science.
On February 15th the Heartland Institute claimed that, of eight allegedly leaked documents, one was a fake and the others had been obtained through deception. It did not dispute the authenticity of the remaining seven documents, but said it was still looking into whether they might have been “altered”. Meanwhile the gleeful greens said they were sticking to their story. They noted that the institute’s plans for a sceptical curriculum were also mentioned in its allegedly leaked budget document and had been confirmed by Mr Wojick. Similarly, the budget document confirmed the institute’s donations to the NIPCC and other sceptical scientists.
In addition to these plums, the leaked trove (uncertainties admitted) provides some more predictable details on the institute’s finances. It suggests that this was expected to be a bumper year, with funding expected to rise by 70% in 2012, to $7.7m. They also refer to an open-handed anonymous donor, who provided $8.6m to the institute for work on climate change between 2007 and 2011.
The greens are inevitably drawing comparisons between this trove and the revelation of e-mails from climatologists at Britain's University of East Anglia, which suggested they had sometimes taken steps to disguise their adjustments of inconvenient palaeo-data. Known as climategate, that was a great embarrassment for the scientists involved. Worse, the alleged sloppiness with data referred to in the emails was ludicrously inflated by many sceptics to call into question the basic verities of climate science. Affording the same status to the publishing of the Heartland Institute's alleged tawdry secrets would be unwise. But it certainly looks embarrassing for the institute.

Secrets of anti-climate stratagem

Leaked financial reports and documents from a US-based think tank that denies the risks of human-caused climate change show links to an Australian academic and detail a strategy to pursue funds from corporations affected by climate policies.
The documents from the Chicago-based Heartland Institute -- leaked online by climate news site DeSmogBlog -- also reveal the think tank has been moulding its messages to fit the requirements of funders, contrary to its own public claims.
According to a "proposed budget" statement for 2012, Australian scientist Bob Carter will receive $1667 per month for his work on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change -- a rebuttal written by Heartland-paid scientists to question the well-regarded UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Carter’s affiliation is listed in the document as "James Cook University & Institute for Public Affairs".
The Institute for Public Affairs has previously sponsored Heartland’s climate change conferences -- where Carter has been a regular speaker -- which almost exclusively feature experts and academics who disagree that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases through burning fossil fuels represent a significant risk.
The document also discloses that the foundation of oil magnates Charles and David Koch gave the institute $200,000 last year. Also discussed is a key but unnamed "anonymous donor" who has given more than $2.5 million in the past two years for the institute’s climate work. According to Heartland’s website:
"We do not take positions in order to appease or avoid losing support from individual donors ... People contribute to The Heartland Institute because they share our belief that better information and understanding can improve public policies in such important areas as education, environmental protection, and health care."
Yet in the leaked memo, Heartland states that "if our focus continues to align with their interests" then they expect the Koch brothers to contribute more funds. The memo also states it will actively pursue funding from corporations who stand to lose out from climate change policies:
"Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 -- about 20 per cent of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012 -- see the 2011 fourth quarter financial report.
"We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies."
In 2011, the documents show Heartland paid a team of writers $388,000 to work on a series of reports under their Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change project. This project, the report says, is being funded by two foundations that have "both requested anonymity". Professor Carter was a lead author on the NIPCC’s latest "interim report".
In a document titled "2012 Fundraising Plan", it is revealed that its "anonymous donor" has given $8.6 million since 2007 for "global warming projects". Funders to other general Heartland projects are revealed to include some major corporations, including Microsoft, Pfizer, Time Warner Cable, Eli Lilly and Bayer.
The "confidential memo" dated January 2012 outlines a climate strategy for Heartland, which claims is "leading the fight to prevent the implementation of dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming".
The memo also states how Heartland "plays an important role" in broader communications on climate change. In particular, Heartland highlights the work of its senior environment policy fellow James Taylor’s blog on Forbes:
"Through his Forbes blog and related high-profile outlets, our conferences and through co-ordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilising responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavourable blog posts)."
The memo says that Heartland is concerned Forbes has begun to publish articles containing "warmist science" that "counter our own":
"This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out."
If funding can be obtained, the memo concludes, then existing efforts will be expanded and new ventures developed.
DeSmogBlog (for which this author is a paid contributor) has made all the documents available on its website.
This story first appeared on on February 15. Republished with permission.

Leaked docs offer insight into how climate-skeptic groups operate

at 04:13 PM ET, 02/16/2012
Recently, the DesmogBlog got its hands on a trove of alleged internal fund-raising documents from the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit that spends a lot of time trying to dispute mainstream climate science. Do they actually tell us anything?

No money for you, buddy. (Nathan Denette/AP)
First, some important details. At least one of the “strategy” documents (PDF) acquired by DesmogBlog appears to be a forgery — Heartland insists that it is a “total fake” — but the forged document doesn’t say anything that’s not included in the other fund-raising documents, which are not currently in dispute. (The Heartland Institute confirms that the fund-raising documents were inadvertently sent to an imposter who had set up a counterfeit e-mail address.) And, on the surface, there’s not a lot that’s new here: It’s been well-known for ages that skeptic groups spend a lot of money trying to call into question the scientific consensus on man-made global warming. But the documents do offer some fuller insight into how these organizations operate. For instance:
1) There’s still a lot of money in climate denial. The documents show that the Heartland Institute expects to raise $7.7 million this year. Not all of this is for climate-related matters — the libertarian group does work on a wide variety of public-policy issues, from health care to state pensions. Still, judging from the documents, the group has spent at least several million dollars attacking climate science over the past few years.
And those broadsides are getting increasingly more sophisticated. For instance, back in 2007, after the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its big report on the state of climate science — a comprehensive summary of what climatologists know about global warming — it took two full years for the Heartland Institute to set up its own “alternate” report savaging the consensus. That’s quite a delay. This time around, however, Heartland is trying to raise at least $200,000 to make sure that it has its “Climate Change Reconsidered” report ready as soon as the IPCC releases its next big assessment in 2013. Skeptics are getting better at rapid response.
2) Big oil companies seem to be increasingly minor players in the skeptic arena. Seven years ago, most climate-skeptic groups could be traced back to money pouring out of ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute — see Chris Mooney’s old expose from 2005 for details. One surprising thing about the Heartland documents, however, is that big oil companies don’t seem to be major donors. The Koch Charitable Foundation — a conservative charity linked to one of the country’s largest private oil refineries — chipped in $25,000 in 2011, but that was devoted specifically for a health care research program.* Exxon, for its part, stopped donating back in 2006 after heavy pressure from environmental groups (up to that point, the oil giant had chipped in $675,000).
Indeed, according to the documents, most of the climate-denial money seems to come from individual donors, particularly a person referred to as “the Anonymous Donor,” who gave $14.26 million over the past six years (nearly half of the group’s revenue). That’s one possible sign that climate skepticism is no longer the sole concern of self-interested fossil-fuel companies trying to fend off regulations — it’s become a self-sustaining ideological endeavor, with no shortage of committed backers.
3) Many firms don’t like being associated with climate denial. The Heartland documents reveal that the organizations gets money in small doses from hitherto anonymous companies like Microsoft and GlaxoSmithKline, often for reasons not related to climate (Microsoft, for instance, hands out software licenses to certain nonprofits). But when contacted by the New York Times, those firms were quick to distance themselves from Heartland’s stance on global warming. “We absolutely do not endorse or support their views on the environment or climate change,” said a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, a pharmaceutical maker.
4) Skeptic money doesn’t necessarily corrupt, but it can amplify marginal viewpoints. It’s sometimes suggested that climate skeptics are somehow corrupt because they take money from oil companies and the like. But Craig Idso, a skeptical scientist who receives $11,600 a month from the Heartland Institute, offers a more nuanced defense in his interview with Andy Revkin. Idso says that he has long opposed the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change — even before he was getting paid by Heartland.
That seems quite plausible. It’s doubtful that many skeptics meaningfully alter their views in order to receive money from groups like Heartland. More likely, the effect of all this money is to increase the visibility and reach of once-marginalized folks who were already inclined to criticize climate science. (And, yes, a person’s funding sources have very little bearing on the actual merits of his or her views.)
5) The climate wars are moving to the classroom. One of Heartland’s fundraising documents lays out the group’s plans to spend $100,000 per year to develop a curriculum for schools that would call basic climate science into question. (“Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” one Heartland document laments.”) A senior fellow at Heartland confirmed these general details to Brad Johnson of ThinkProgress. We’ve already seen battles over the teaching of evolution in public schools around the country. It wouldn’t be surprising to see local fights over climate science next.
*Clarification : The Koch Foundation’s $25,000 contribution in 2011 was for health care research, and not for anything climate-related.

The scariest part of all this to me is their plan to create doubt among our children by using money and power to influence textbooks and the teaching of our children. Hitler, Heimler, and Goebbels would be so proud.  Can you say Mein Kemp!

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