It’s hard to resist looking at the newly leaked documents from the contemptible Heartland Institute.
I was actually most shocked by their hand in trying to protect Governor Walker’s putsch in Wisconsin. “Angry Badger” indeed…
But shouldn’t people, no matter how nasty, get to keep their secrets? Is this ethically all that different from the CRU hacking? I’m serious. Those who think the CRU hacking was a perfectly fine thing need not respond.
UPDATE: The bit about “dissuading teachers from teaching science” was presumably just a sloppy edit, right? But then again, an embarrassing choice of words in a document intended to be private is not something that these guys would harp on for years on end, say if it came from a real scientist, right? So we surely shouldn’t make a fuss about this, right?
“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.”
– from the Climate Strategy document. (emphasis added)
UPDATE – regardless of this revealing slip, (and of what the revealed documents imply about Heartland’s legitimacy as a 501c3 charitable organization, a topic that John Mashey has been pursuing assiduously),
Chris Mooney (in email, quoted with permission) spots perhaps the most surprising and most disturbing aspect of the documents in what is NOT there.
most of our ideological opponents think they’re actually right about the science, which means they would not want to prevent science from being taught, but rather prevent what they view as biased environmentalist science being taught. That there is no indication of this here is very, very striking.
UPDATE Feb 15: As is often the case with climate blogstorms, Adam Siegel is doing a good job of keeping up with fresh links at Get Energy Smart Now.
UPDATE Feb 15: Not a peep out of Watts yet. This morning he is featuring an especially clueless rant about El Nino instead. “It is infeasible that El Niño can arise from atmosphere and sun alone by warming this mass of water. Neither air temp or solar radiance change enough to cause this phenomena.” Well, yeah. “This phenomena” [sic] is caused by an anomalous strengthening or weakening of the trade winds, leading to warm water increasingly sloshing over and piling up in the west Pacific, or the pile sloshing back over to the east, meanwhile reinforcing the trade wind anomaly so it becomes sticky. The system is reset when the positive El Nino phase (warm in the east) radiates extra heat into space. These vertical cross sections along the equator should give the idea. The “atmosphere and sun” are not alleged by anyone to “warm this mass of water” on the oscillation’s time scale. The denier explanation? Volcanoes.
UPDATE Feb 15: Bishop Hill seems to have had the response delegated to him. “Nothing to see here,” is of course what they are saying. Given the context, that wears a little thin.
“dissuade teachers from teaching science”? “we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports”?(see below) “This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.”
Hmmm… Interesting positions for a non-profit to take.
Pity we don’t have ten years of emails to trawl through. Perhaps they’d release those?
UPDATE Feb 15: Watts finally replies. My response:
1) I do not begrudge anyone funding for publicly exposing data in an honest and even-handed way. The general incapacity of the scientific institutions for doing so in a reasonable, up-to-date, convenient way is quite a legitimate point of complaint. And Watts may well do this honestly, because unlike Heartland in general, he appears to “buy his own dog food”. I can imagine how this could be mishandled, but I’m not one for prior restraint.
2) Watts has a very good point that Gore purportedly has $300 million (total) compared with Heartland’s 5 to 10 million per year. Is Gore’s counter-campaign ineffective, and if so why?
Both are good topics for further discussion, unlike the silliness that usually passes for science over at Watts’. But both of the above are clearly intended to deflect interest from Heartland’s obviously revealed indifference to the facts of the matter, and its as-suspected dubious status as a 501c3.
UPDATE Feb 15: Heartland Press Release:
Yesterday afternoon, two advocacy groups posted online several documents they claimed were The Heartland Institute’s 2012 budget, fundraising, and strategy plans. Some of these documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered.
The stolen documents appear to have been written by Heartland’s president for a board meeting that took place on January 17. He was traveling at the time this story broke yesterday afternoon and still has not had the opportunity to read them all to see if they were altered. Therefore, the authenticity of those documents has not been confirmed.
Since then, the documents have been widely reposted on the Internet, again with no effort to confirm their authenticity.
One document, titled “Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute. It was not written by anyone associated with The Heartland Institute. It does not express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics. It contains several obvious and gross misstatements of fact.
We respectfully ask all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, especially the fake “climate strategy” memo and any quotations from the same, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.
The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation. We ask them in particular to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.
How did this happen? The stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to “re-send” board materials to a new email address. Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offenses subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.
Apologies: The Heartland Institute apologizes to the donors whose identities were revealed by this theft. We promise anonymity to many of our donors, and we realize that the major reason these documents were stolen and faked was to make it more difficult for donors to support our work. We also apologize to Heartland staff, directors, and our allies in the fight to bring sound science to the global warming debate, who have had their privacy violated and their integrity impugned.
Lessons: Disagreement over the causes, consequences, and best policy responses to climate change runs deep. We understand that.
But honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours. As a matter of common decency and journalistic ethics, we ask everyone in the climate change debate to sit back and think about what just happened.
Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.
RESPONSE: Heartland is challenging the veracity of the document containing all three of the most damning statements. I have no information about the provenance of these documents. Again, people who ought to know are saying that they are plausible, but that is hardly a proof of authenticity.
Heartland’s aggressive approach is interesting given their past position on the CRU hacking.
My main interest here is in trying to establish some good for the goose and good for the gander rules. Some people on both “sides” are reluctant to see any equivalence. Heartland, not surprisingly, is among them.
UPDATE Feb 17: The response from Bradley, Karoly, Mann, Overpeck, Santer, Schmidt and Trenberth is the obviously appropriate answer to the question that frames this article.