It struck me that a lot of readers may not know the back story on the post about Watts, below, so here’s some context. The Heartland Institute is a right-wing org originally created in 1984, appropriately, to spread lies about issues like the health effects of tobacco use. When that gig started drying up in the 90s they had to find new wealthy benefactors, fast. One of the biggest clients they landed was the fossil fuel energy industry, interested in using similar disinformation tactics to combat pollution regulations and especially the growing scientific consensus on human induced climate change.
Last week internal documents from Heartland came to light reportedly showing the 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 choose to smoke, to children, in their classrooms, trying to learn.”
There are a number of angles to this developing story. But what’s important to understand is Heartland is just one of dozens of well-funded organizations dedicated to protecting giant corporations by hook or by crook. And while they may have taken a bit of a black-eye here, the institute will likely survive and continue doing just that, along with their growing, powerful allies in the War on Science and any thing else deemed threatening in the insular boardrooms inhabited solely by America’s zillionaire elite.