Heartland Institute: Funded To Spread Misinformation About Climate Change
The Heartland Institute is a right-wing “think-tank” that describes itself as a “devoted to discovering, developing, and promoting free market solutions to social and economic problems.” However, as DeSmogBlog has recently revealed, Heartland is much more interested in promoting the bottom line of its pro-pollution funders than it is about doing any real “thinking” about the very real economic, environmental, and social problems the world is facing right now. DeSmogBlog devotes itself to examining the “PR pollution” about climate science swirling around us these days and has developed a reputation as a reliable, well-documented website. On Valentine’s Day it broke a story about leaked documents from the Heartland Institute; confidential information on the institute’s projects and funders, including the nefarious pollution-loving Koch brothers, are revealed, as is an extensive plan by the Heartland Institute to undermine established science on climate change. One of the most damning papers is the 2012 Climate Strategy (all documents are available for viewing at DeSmogBlog). It discusses the Heartland Institute’s plans to oppose the implementation of “dangerous policy actions to address the supposed risks of global warming”. For any parent who is concerned about what the future might hold for their children if global warming, ocean acidification, and biodiversity loss continues at today’s pace, there are many jaw-droppingly disturbing statements in this document. The one that is most offensive to me as a parent and as an educator is the revelation that Heartland is actively developing an anti-science “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms”. (Update Feb 19/2012: Although the Heartland Institute disputes the authenticity of this particular document, the “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by Dr. David Wojick). The 2012 Climate Strategy document posted on DeSmogblog states (emphasis mine):
Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.
There are hundreds of thousands of hardworking teachers and scientists out there making an honest effort each day to explore and explain the world to the rest of us. The Heartland Institute, with funding from anonymous and (after this week’s revelations) not-so-anonymous donors, is focused on undermining the hard-won efforts of both. Why? Not, as is clear from the documents, in the pursuit of scientific knowledge or the betterment of humankind (“at present we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nations IPCC reports and paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered”). The Heartland Institute, and its deep-pocketed funders, want the status quo to continue; the fossil fuel party that has brought those of us fortunate enough to live in the industrialized world a very comfortable standard of living over the last century has made these people unimaginably wealthy. The Koch brothers, long-time Heartland donors, had a net worth of $50 billion in 2011 and Exxon Mobil, the world’s richest corporation (its revenues in 2011 were $370.8 Billion), has also contributed generously to the Institute over the years.
As the Bible reminds us, the love of money is the root of all evil. As the world heard last week, corporate executives whose bottom line will be damaged when fossil fuels are replaced by sustainable clean sources have been working with anti-science climate deniers like Christopher Monckton to use their money to influence the public debate (see “Mining Industry Caught On Tape Plotting to Corrupt Media“). The Heartland revelations are more of the same. These immoral hucksters will stop at nothing, it seems, to protect their bank accounts, even if it means bankrupting our children’s future. The bank account of our children’s future is getting more and more overdrawn every day, while these greedy buggers see their own bottom line grow; short-term profits trump long-term sustainability. This is not acceptable to me, as a parent. I care much more about my children’s future than I do about whether Charles Koch gets to sleep on silk sheets in a multi-million dollar New York penthouse. If you, too, are sick and tired of our children’s future being sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed, then stand up and be counted. The eyes of the future are on each of us right now, asking us to do the right thing. Don’t know where to start? Check out Citizens Climate Lobby, a grassroots organization focused on creating the political will for a sustainable future. Or start with my Action, Not Apathy page.
The Bible, as anyone who has spent much time reading it will know, has much to say about money; it was Jesus, after all, who cleansed the temple by overturning the moneychangers’ tables and driving them out. The Heartland Institute and its funders might want to consider pondering Biblical wisdom, both New and Old Testament, more often.
Why should I fear when evil days come, when wicked deceivers surround me– those who trust in their wealth and boast of their great riches?
For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. Their tombs will remain their houses forever, their dwellings for endless generations, though they had named lands after themselves.
But man, despite his riches, does not endure; he is like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings. Like sheep they are destined for the grave, and death will feed on them. Psalm 46: 5,6, 10, 11, 12