Greenpeace Investigates Heartland Institute Leaked Documents

More context can be read in our blog launching this investigation: Heartland Institute Sting Operation Triggers Greenpeace Investigations.

COMPANIES ENDING HEARTLAND INSTITUTE FUNDING

due to climate change denial campaigns:

Heartland's entire Finance, Insurance and Real Estate program (now the R Street Institute), including:

Farmer's Insurance and Nationwide Insurance have also confirmed (E&E News ClimateWire) they will not support the Heartland Institute. Microsoft has stated that "the Heartland Institute’s position on climate change is diametrically opposed to Microsoft’s position. And we completely disagree with the group’s inflammatory and distasteful advertising campaign."

SEE FORECAST THE FACTS FOR A FULL LOOK AT CORPORATE FUNDERS WHO HAVE LEFT OR STAYED WITH THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE'S CLIMATE SCIENCE DENIAL

ABOUT THE HEARTLAND INSTITUTE INVESTIGATIONS:

The urgency of the global warming crisis has never been greater. Even as Republican presidential candidates vie for the greatest policy flip flopper or denier of global warming, the planet is experiencing weather extremes at a staggering pace. The summer of 2011 set multiple U.S. heat records and thousands of monthly temperature, rainfall, drought, flooding and wildfire records were set in 2011. This reality has not stopped the Heartland Institute from politicizing and denying the science of climate change and muddying the policy process to address the crisis.

Internal documents published on DeSmogBlog prompted multiple Greenpeace investigations into the Heartland Institute's influence on our government, our universities, and our public opinion and what implications they have on our ability to stop global warming. Our investigations in response to leaked Heartland documents are cataloged below.

For more, see our multiple investigations below as well as the Heartland Institute and Joseph Bast PolluterWatch profiles.

 

Heartland Institute Investigations blogroll: (back to top)

Heartland Institute Sting Operation Triggers Greenpeace Investigations (3/12/2012)

Heartland Institute Scandals Convince Columnist of Climate Change Reality (3/14/2012)

How the Heartland Institute Deceived Me with Underhand Tactics (3/15/2012)

Heartland Institute and ALEC Partner to Pollute Classroom Science (3/30/2012)

GM Drops Heartland, Coke and Pepsi drop ALEC (4/5/2012)

Climate Denial University? The Heartland Institute's Toxic Presence in Higher Education (4/12/2012)

Heartland Institute Compares Climate Advocates to Mass Murderers (5/5/2012)

More corporate funders drop Heartland Institute, yet some major names remain (5/15/2012)

 

Jump to investigation:

*INVESTIGATION #1 JOSEPH BAST’S CLIMATE CHANGE PHILOSOPHY FLIP FLOP

*INVESTIGATION #2 HEARTLAND INSTITUTE PAYMENTS TO FEDERAL SCIENTISTS AND CAREER CLIMATE DENIERS

*INVESTIGATION #3: PAYMENTS TO UNIVERSITY FACULTY FOR "CLIMATE CHANGE RECONSIDERED" ANTI-SCIENCE REPORTS

*INVESTIGATION #4: THE GLOBAL WARMING CURRICULUM PROJECT

Updated 10/22/2012

 

INVESTIGATION #1: JOSEPH BAST’S CLIMATE CHANGE PHILOSOPHY FLIP FLOP (back to top)

 

Mr. Bast gave a bizarre interview  in E&E News' ClimateWire wherein he predicted that the climate crisis would be “old news” within five to ten years. But Bast can’t seem to keep his story straight on the science in two interviews from one day to the next:

From a Wall Street Journal video interview the day before (Feb. 22, 2012):

WSJ: What is the Heartland Institute's position on global warming? [emphasis added]
Bast: "We believe that climate has warmed in the second half of the 20th Century, we believe that there is probably a measurable human impact on climate but it's probably very small, we think that natural forces probably overwhelm any impact that human activity can have, that computer models are too unreliable to forecast what the future might hold for climate and finally that a modest amount of warming is probably going to be, on net, beneficial both to human beings and the ecosystem. We think that that's pretty much actually the consensus of working scientists in this area."

Fact check: Actual scientific consensus on global warming (from real scientists that research and publish scrutinized reports) is getting stronger.

Compare Bast’s recognition of a “measurable human impact” with another interview one day later from E&E News’ ClimateWire:

As president of the Heartland Institute, Bast has established a no-surrender strategy to challenge the scientific accord that humans are causing a rise in temperatures. He is a bearded Midwesterner with strong suspicions that a small group of politically connected climate scientists are influencing their community's behavior. The result, he thinks, is an outsized, but shrinking, agreement that man's activity is altering the climate.
"I'm confident that the scientific basis behind the threat has pretty much melted away. So I talk about the global warming ... delusion and how it's gradually unwinding," "It's like any other apocalyptic movement. These things crest, and then they start to retreat, until the next apocalyptic movement comes along and gives us something to get all worried about."

In the same E&E ClimateWire interview, Bast criticized the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as climate science capitulators who committed what he called "pre-emptive surrender" for admitting there is serious man made warming and engaging the policy arena. "You don't concede the science,” Bast said of AEI’s stance. Ironically, Bast conceded seven months earlier that Heartland's position doesn't match broad scientific consensus. In an interview with the scientific journal Nature, Bast explained, "We've won the public opinion debate, and we've won the political debate as well. But the scientific debate is a source of enormous frustration."

Why is this important? Because Heartland has spent the last decade pushing mythology about climate science, working to bend the public opinion needle back, attacking Al Gore and legitimate climate scientists including Peter Gleick and Michael Mann. The more any given scientist tries to bring their work out of the journals and into public warnings about real world impacts, the more they find themselves in Heartland’s crosshairs. Bast is very consistent with his inconsistencies on climate science, a clear indicator
 

PolluterWatch has aggregated Joseph Bast quotes demonstrating his shocking, inconsistent or blatantly incorrect statements.

INVESTIGATION #2: HEARTLAND INSTITUTE PAYMENTS TO FEDERAL SCIENTISTS AND CAREER CLIMATE DENIERS (back to top)

 

Last month, Greenpeace sent letters (linked below) of inquiry to the U.S. Departments of Energy and the Interior where individuals are receiving monthly checks from Heartland for services rendered. The Heartland Budget document details $300,000/year in payments to climate denier scientists such as Fred Singer, Craig Idso, Bob Carter and Willie Soon to confront the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and write contrarian critiques of published peer-reviewed climate science:

 

One of the scientists on the Heartland ledger is Indur Goklany, who is listed as working at the US Department of the Interior (DOI). We sent a letter to the DOI questioning Heartland’s payments to Indur Goklany. Triggered by our letter, Representative Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona called for a congressional hearing on Goklany’s financial ties to Heartland. After House Natural Resources committee chairman Doc Hastings denied Rep. Grijalva’s request, Grijalva succeeded in initiating an investigation over this potential conflict of interest through DOI’s Inspector General.

Talking Points Memo confirmed that “The Interior Department is “reviewing” whether a government climate change expert held over from the Bush administration received improper payments from an institution known for its opposition to environmental regulation, a spokesman tells TPM.”

Unfortunately we only have confirmation of 2012 payments on Heartland’s books. We don’t know how far back these payments go nor the total that Goklany or others have received from Heartland through the years.

See Greenpeace's letter to the Department of Energy

See Greenpeace's letter to the Department of the Interior

INVESTIGATION #3: PAYMENTS TO UNIVERSITY FACULTY FOR “CLIMATE CHANGE RECONSIDERED” ANTI-SCIENCE REPORTS (back to top)

 

Following the leak of internal Heartland Institute documents, six universities with faculty listed in Heartland's budget for work relating to denying the science or implications of global climate change received letters from Greenpeace asking for conflict of interest investigations (see the Chronicle of Higher Education's coverage). Of those six, four have made some movement that open up a variety of unanswered questions:

  • Harvard University has again distanced itself from Willie Soon in response to our letter. Harvard says Soon is not affiliated with the school although he remains in their faculty directory. Harvard told Greenpeace last year that Soon only used their campus for his office after Soon described himself as a "natural scientist at Harvard" a byline that morphed to exclude the Harvard affiliation after Greenpeace inquiry. See Greenpeace's letter to Harvard.
  • Arizona State University's State Press paper wrote an article about Greenpeace's letter asking the ASU administration to investigate a potential conflict of interest between Robert Balling and Heartland's climate denial reports. ASU separately told Greenpeace and the State Press that it was investigating. Balling has a history of payments from fossil fuel interests including climate studies funded by Exxon (see Balling's 2010 CV). Balling also co-wrote two books with Pat Michaels of the Cato Institute that contort the science and dismiss the seriousness of global warming (Michaels has admitted that up to 40% of his funding comes from the oil industry). There remains a major inconsistency: despite being listed in Heartland's 2012 budget and as an "expert" on their website, Balling claims no affiliation with Heartland since 2008 (see State Press article above). See Greenpeace's letter to ASU.
  • Michigan Technological University pushed back hard at any association between professor David Watkins and the Heartland Institute. Watkins stressed that “I have had no relationship with the Heartland Institute, and I do not support their agenda,” and, “I have not accepted (nor have I been offered) any funds from them, and I am troubled by the misuse of my name in their documents” (Michigan Tech news). The Heartland Institute has still not provided an explanation as to why Prof. Watkins is listed in their budget as a contributor to their reports that promote doubt over climate change. See Greenpeace's letter to MTU.
  • Professor Anthony Lupo at the University of Missouri (MU) has confirmed $750 monthly payments from Heartland and has worked with another recipient of significant Heartland payments for climate doubt work, Craig Idso (Columbia Tribune). Prof. Lupo still won't recognize the key role human greenhouse gas emissions play in driving climate change despite his role as a certified consultant for the American Meteorological Society (see AMS' position statement on global warming conflicting with Prof. Lupo's claims) and the majority opinion of scientific bodies worldwide. In stark contrast to the vast majority of the scientific community studying climate change, Anthony Lupo has worked with energy industry lobbyists and career climate science deniers (such as the Natural Resources Stewardship Project) to urge the United Nations to ignore global warming. Anthony Lupo's public statements on climate change have been self-contradictory over the years, as documented by the Kansas City Pitch. Prof. Lupo's connection to Heartland recently convinced a Columbia Tribune columnist of both manmade global warming and the public relations campaign to deny its existence. See Greenpeace's letter to the University of Missouri and MU's response letter, including Prof. Lupo's outside interest disclosure forms.

Canadian schools Greenpeace wrote to have not responded, but are mentioned in this article by the Muse. Another school, Carleton University, recently audited and discovered was recently subject to an audit discovering significant classroom bias against sound climate science in the case of Tom Harris, also affiliated with Heartland (see the Guardian).

  • The University of Victoria (Canada) has not contacted Greenpeace over conflict of interest questions relating to Heartland's payments to adjunct professor Susan Crockford, who has a history of denying climate science as a speaker for the International Climate Science Coalition (which does not have a scientifically accurate position). The UVic administration has stated that Crockford's position as an adjunct professor does not require her to file disclosures of outside interest payments. Heartland is paying Susan Crockford $750/month for work on Heartland's Climate Change Reconsidered reports. Crockford's actual expertise is in the evolutionary theory of the domestic dog. See Greenpeace's letter to the University of Victoria and coverage in the Martlet, a weekly student paper at UVic.
  • Lakehead University has also not responded to Greenpeace after conflict of interest concerns about contract lecturer Mitch Taylor's listing in the Heartland Institute 2012 budget as a contributor to NIPCC reports. According to Canadian newspapers, Taylor's research on polar bears is not considered credible by the scientific community, and Taylor has confirmed funding from the Heartland Institute but denies any present payments. See Greenpeace's letter to Lakehead University.

Unanswered questions among all these inquiries could indicate tense internal politics at Heartland if they were making up names in their budget for the sake of impressing the board, making plans look finalized for fundraising purposes, or given inaccurate information from major contractors like Craig Idso.

INVESTIGATION #4: THE GLOBAL WARMING CURRICULUM PROJECT (back to top)

 

Greenpeace sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) about a part time employee there who is also on Heartland’s 2012 books to write K-12 curriculum on a contrarian view of the climate science consensus:

In the Heartland fundraising plan states that the Anonymous Donor Barre Seid has pledged $100,000 for this project (100% of its committed financing) as it laments that “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective.” To fight this, they hope to develop curriculum “modules” to insert doubt into climate science lessons:

 

 

In the recent Wall Street Journal interview however, Bast manages to reframe the K-12 climate curriculum project completely.
WSJ: What about the program for schools?
Bast: "What we want to do is bring real research and real science into the classroom. Teach kids about critical thinking, let them understand that to try to find the human fingerprint on climate is a big challenge."

We would love to see Mr. Bast answer some tough questions on global warming science and policy in front of a class at the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, outside of Washington DC in Virginia, one of the top science high schools in the country.

INVESTIGATIONS ARE ONGOING -- POLLUTERWATCH WILL CONTINUE TO UPDATE.

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