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August 09 2012

22:37

Was Scott Walker Chosen to Headline Heartland Institute Gala Due to His Bradley Foundation Ties?

Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker will keynote the Heartland Institute's 28th Anniversary Benefit Dinner this evening at Navy Pier in Chicago, IL

Walker recently won the Kochtopus-funded Americans for Prosperity George Washington Award. Now, two months after his recall election steamrolling of Democrat Tom Barrett, the climate change denying group famous for its Unabomber billboard will embrace Walker with much fanfare

Heartland, whose internal documents were published this past spring by DeSmogBlog, sings praises for Walker's union-busting agenda and his recent recall victory in promoting the event

This year’s keynote speaker, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, is the nation’s most influential and successful governor. Elected in 2010 to balance a budget that was billions of dollars in deficit without raising taxes, he did exactly that, winning the passionate support of taxpayers, business owners, and consumers across the state. After years of economic stagnation caused by high taxes and excessive regulation, Wisconsin is growing again.

To balance the state’s budget, Gov. Walker took on powerful public sector unions, reining in their collective bargaining privileges and requiring that public-sector workers start to contribute toward their retirement and health care benefits. Unions fought back, and after they failed to block legislation implementing Walker’s plan, they tried to recall him in a special election. On June 5, 2012, they failed, as Walker won reelection and a solid mandate to stay his course.

The trove of leaked Heartland documents exposed the Institute's current climate change denying agenda and revealed whose money supports this reality-denying agenda. But DeSmogBlog neglected to talk about the details of "Operation Angry Badger" in the documents, as at the time, we thought it was outside the scope of our mission.

Turns out, we were wrong.

The WI-Bradley Foundation-Heartland Institute Nexus

A significant chunk of the Heartland Exposed documents discussed the Heartland Institute's "Operation Angry Badger." These documents laid out the role Heartland would play in serving as a messaging machine for the forthcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial recall election. 

The Center for Media and Democracy's Brendan Fischer broke down the "Angry Badger" details (emphasis mine):

Leaked documents show that the Chicago-based Heartland Institute is planning to spend $612,000 supporting Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

(Snip)

The leaked documents propose a $612,000 campaign to include print ads, mailers, web ads, and blog posts that would promote the "successes" of Wisconsin Act 10 and portray Wisconsin teachers as overpaid and schools as underperforming. Act 10 — also known as the "budget repair bill" — included Governor Walker's plan to curtail collective bargaining for public employees, which its proponents said would result in cost-savings for school districts and make it easier to fire bad teachers. 

Why was Heartland - a 'free-market' think tank most well-known for its role in peddling climate change denial - so invested in supporting Walker in the recall election? And given the controversy surrounding Heartland's Unabomber billboard failure, why is Walker - who is also set to keynote the Republican National Convention later this month - interested in associating with such an extreme group by serving as the keynote speaker at Heartland's Annual Dinner?

Just follow the money and the personnel for some indications. 

Milwaukee, WI-Based Bradley Foundation Gives Big Bucks to Heartland

The Milwaukee, WI-based conservative Bradley Foundation gave $648,000 to Heartland between 1986-2009, according to Media Matters.

The Foundation's President and CEO, Michael Grebe, served as Chairman for Walker's 2010 gubernatorial race, in which Walker handily dispatched his challenger, Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.

Grebe is also the Chairman of the Board of Philanthropy Roundtable, which, according to the Center for Media and Democracy's Sourcewatch, "was established by the Bradley Foundation to help facilitate conservative grantmaking." 

Bradley gave Philanthropy Roundable $2,585,000 between 1993-2009, according to Media Matters.

Compared to its close allies, the Koch Family Foundations - the funding epicenter of the Kochtopus empire and another Heartland funder - the Bradley Foundation has largely operated beneath the public's radar, particularly in the national media. The veil of secrecy Bradley enjoys was lifted when Wisconsin's biggest daily newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, published a lengthy investigation in November 2011, "From local roots, Bradley Foundation builds conservative empire." 

Walker's first meeting as Governor-Elect was not with the Koch Brothers, but with upper-level management of Bradley, explained the Sentinel:

Less than a week after being elected governor, Scott Walker and his wife met privately with one of the most powerful philanthropic forces behind America's conservative movement.

It wasn't the Koch brothers - the bogeymen for the American left.

On Nov. 8, 2010, the Walkers broke bread at the upscale Bacchus restaurant in the Cudahy Tower with the board and senior staff of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.

The Bradley Empire has actually doled out far more money to conservative causes (not including electoral efforts) in the past decade than has the Koch Empire.

"It receives a fraction of the attention given the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch and the Scaife family," wrote the Sentinel. "But the Bradley Foundation is in a different league: From 2001 to 2009, it doled out nearly as much money as the seven Koch and Scaife foundations combined."

The Bradley Empire Uses Walker to Push Post-Recall Agenda

Foundation money doesn't grow on trees. It comes from various donors who share mutual ideological and fiduciary interests. In the case of the Bradley Empire, these interests are multi-tentacled, but the thread that ties the interests together is that they're always in the interest of corporations.

The $612,000 funneled to Heartland to work the "Operation Angry Badger" Walker recall effort could be looked at as a small down payment investment. Walker's victory now gives him the mandate to push the corporate agenda full-steam ahead - and push this agenda he has.

With the recall complete, and the national spotlight shifting away from Walker, he got to work creating numerous committees and working groups to service private interests ahead of the public interest, both now and long into the future. This is best highlighted in an ongoing investigative series by The Progressive magazine's Rebecca Kemble.

Two of the key working groups, The Council on Workforce Investment and the College and Workforce Readiness Council, "are working closely with Competitive Wisconsin, an alliance of politically connected businesses organized by Jim Wood, president of their family PR firm Wood Communications," according to Kemble's reporting.

Competitive Wisconsin, Kemble went onto to explain, launched something called the "Be Bold Campaign" in 2010. This campaign called for the creation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), a public-private partnership that eventually was turned into reality as WI Act 7 (also known as Special Session SB 6 and Special Session AB 6) on February 9, 2011. This was merely two days before Walker announced he would be pushing the union-busting "Budget Repair Bill." 

Competitive Wisconsin spent 95% of its lobbying time in the first half of 2011 making the case for Act 7, according to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. This ran at a cost of $3,750 - or roughly three-fifths of the money ($4,875) it spent on lobbying for the half-year period. 

The WEDC, in turn, is currently putting together an influential study set to be released after Labor Day, according to a press release. "The $300,000 study is being funded by grants from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the Bradley Foundation, and corporate donations," wrote The Wisconsin State Journal

The study is titled "Be Bold 2," a sequel to the study that created the WEDC to begin with.

A "Bold" Push For Jobs in Wisconsin's Growing Oil and Gas Industry?

"Be Bold 2" will be released under the auspices of Competitive Wisconsin, though it is co-funded by the WEDC and the Bradley Foundation. Competitive Wisconsin's "strategic counsel" is Jim Wood, President of Wood Communications Group

Wood Communications Group is a self-described "full-service public relations firm, providing problem solving and communication tools that work in the real world." Importantly, one of its clients is Murphy Oil Corporation

Murphy has a refinery in Superior, WI, which is refining tar sands crude that makes its way into the state via the Enbridge Alberta Clipper Pipeline, approved by the Obama Administration in August 2009.

In late July, the Alberta Clipper Pipeline spilled 1,200 barrels of oil near Grand Marsh, WI, according to Enbridge. Not even two weeks after the spill, Enbridge was given the go-ahead to restart pipeline operations

Wisconsin is also home to four Koch Industries tar sands refineries, owned by its subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources. Koch PAC donated $43,000 to the Walker campaign in 2010, while James Kowitz, Manager of the Murphy Oil Superior refinery gave Walker $800 prior to his 2010 victory.   

"Operation Angry Badger" A Wild Success

Of course the fossil fuel industry-funded Heartland Institute doesn't want Wisconsin citizens to think about how the tar sands crude that flows through the pipelines and refineries in their state causes climate change. 

After a close look at the tight ties that bind Walker to the Bradley Empire, its anti-union initiatives in Wisconsin, and Bradley's ties to the Heartland Institute, one can see that Walker's speaking gig at Heartland's 28th Annual Dinner actually makes perfect sense. 

And coming full circle, by the looks of it, "Operation Angry Badger" has been nothing short of a wild success for its special interest backers.

Photo CreditMegan McCormick | WikiMedia

August 07 2012

22:35

Andrew Bolt Cuts Ties With Climate Science Denying Galileo Movement Over Alleged Anti-Jewish Conspiracy Theory

ANDREW Bolt is Australia's loudest and most popular climate science doubt-spreader who just loves to stoke the fires of environmental conspiracy theorists with his daily splurge of blog posts and his weekly radio and TV shows.

The blogger and columnist in the Murdoch-owned News Ltd press describes climate change as a "religious movement" and says climate scientists are part of a global conspiracy.

Bolt allows his commenters to refer to the United Nations as the "United Nazis" and regularly joins the "one world government" conspiracy theorists while pulling quotes out of context to insinuate "warmists" have ambitions of totalitarian "global management". He maligns solar power at every opportunity and claims wind farms are an "insult to the intelligence".

But there is at least one conspiracy theory which Andrew Bolt isn't happy to endorse. Up until last week, Bolt was listed as an adviser to one of Australia's most active climate denialist organisations the Galileo Movement. But then what happened?

In a report late last month in the Sydney Morning Herald, the Galileo Movement's project manager Malcolm Roberts, a former mining industry consultant, was asked if recent research led by US physicist Professor Richard Muller had swayed the group's thinking on human-caused climate change. The SMH report read

Mr Roberts said climate change science had been captured by ''some of the major banking families in the world'' who form a ''tight-knit cabal''. He said he understood that the group's views might sound strange, but claimed they were becoming increasingly popular.

''It does sound outlandish,'' Mr Roberts said. ''I, like you, was reluctant to believe it [but] there are significant things going on in Australia that people are waking up to. The UN's climate front is just a part of the overall UN 'Agenda 21', which is the sustainability program and the biodiversity program … But the biggest one's the UN agenda for global governance.''

The bit about "banking families" made its way to Bolt, who was apparently spooked and wrote Roberts an email saying his words "sounded very much like one of those Jewish world conspiracy theories that I despise". After getting a reply, Bolt wrote:

Your conspiracy theory seemed utterly stupid even before I knew which families you meant. Now checking the list of banking families you’ve given me, your theory becomes terribly, shamefully familiar.

Two of the three most prominent and current banking families you’ve mentioned are Jewish, and the third is sometimes falsely assumed to be. Yes, this smacks too much of the Jewish world conspiracy theorising I’ve always loathed.

Bolt then asked to be removed from the list of the Galileo Movement's advisers, which is a veritable who's who of climate science denial, listing the likes of Lord Christopher Monckton, Richard Lindzen, Fred Singer, Bob Carter, Ian Plimer and the Cato Institute's Pat Michaels. Popular Sydney radio host Alan Jones is Galileo's patron. Will any of them feel the need to follow Bolt?

In the comments section, Roberts claimed his words were not anti-semitic and that "Some of my friends and those who I respect, admire and value enormously for their achievements are Jewish." But Roberts then offered to educate Bolt on "major international banking families", "cabals" and pushes for "global governance".

Bolt's defection does put him in something of an awkward position, not least because one of the people who Roberts recommends to Bolt for more on his banking theories is David Evans, who is one of Bolt's favourite skeptics. For example, Bolt cites Evans here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and, well, you get the picture.

Evans, the husband of climate sceptic blogger JoNova, once outlined his thesis in a 2009 paper published by the Science and Public Policy Institute titled Manufacturing Money, and Global Warming. Naming the "Rothschilds", Evans writes

The banking families don’t work for a living in the normal sense, like the rest of us. They avoid scrutiny and envy by blending in and make themselves invisible. Since they own or influence all sorts of media organizations, it isn’t too hard. There are unsubstantiated rumors and conspiracy theories, but nobody can really credibly say how much wealth and influence they have.

One of Bolt's other favourite "experts" to cite is Christopher Monckton who, like Evans and Nova, is also an adviser to the Galileo Movement. Bolt cites Monckton enthusiastically  hereherehere and here and probably lots of other places.

Monckton has been pushing his various conspiratorial talking points around the globe for years. To add to his insistence that climate change is some sort of socialist plot to take over the world, Monckton has recently taken to questioning the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate in a Tea Party-sponsored tour. Is Bolt happy to stick with Monckton, one wonders?

But is it fair to generalise that people who deny climate change science are all conspiracy theorists? Well no, but one piece of new research does suggest that people who reject the science are also more likely to entertain a whole range of whacky ideas.

Research led by cognitive psychologist Professor Stephan Lewandowsky at the University of Western Australia, to be published in the journal Psychological Science, found an important predictor for climate science denialism was a belief in free-market economics.

But the research also found a correlation between denial of human caused climate change science and "conspiracist ideation", such as acceptance of supposed CIA plots to kill Martin Luther King, faked Moon landings or how the US government let the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour so they could enter World War II.

Or the strongest correlation, plots to create world governments.

July 27 2012

21:21

Latest Pro-Keystone XL Website Backed by GOP Special Interest Group

This morning, the latest in pro-tar sands spin went live. KeystoneXLNow.com takes aim at President Obama for failing to approve the Keystone XL project (even though the White House just announced approval of the southern leg today), calling it "an affront to millions of Americans out of work and an outrage to millions more who are paying higher energy costs as a result of this administration's policies."

KeystoneXLNow.com invites users to send a message directly to the State Department to counterbalance "the crazy lefties [who] are already pouring in comments to give Obama an excuse to kill the pipeline." The site calls on users to "push back by filling the official State Department docket with comments demanding they stop stalling and approve the Keystone XL pipeline now!"

Not only is KeystoneXLnow.com rife with faulty facts, but its backers and secret funders make an oil trail back to the GOP and oil-backed right wing think tanks. 

KeystoneXLnow.com argues the U.S. State Department should expedite the review process of the Keystone XL because it could take years, and, worst case scenario, Canada will simply give up and build the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline to ship tar sands crude to Asia.

Failing to approve this tar sands pipeline project now will threaten "about 20,000 immediate jobs, a secure supply of North American oil, billions in private investment, and the global efficiency benefits of connecting a major crude source to the world’s most efficient refining center," the site claims.

Canadian oil giant TransCanada quickly tweeted about the campaign, which claims to have sent 13,000 emails and letters so far. 

A closer look at the website registration for KeystoneXLnow.com reveals the site was registered this morning to Phil Kerpen of the free market group American Commitment.


According to its website, American Commitment is "dedicated to restoring and protecting America’s core commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom".

The Washington Post calls American Commitment "the latest GOP player", and notes the new group has already raised $7 million to attack Democrats, mostly at the state level. Apparently they aren't only focused on state-level battles. 

In addition to his role as the president of American Commitment, Phil Kerpen is a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition, and author of the book Democracy Denied, part of the Heartland Institute's Author Series.

Kerpen previously worked for the Club for Growth, a Club offshoot called the Free Enterprise Fund and the libertarian Cato Institute.

Kerpen also spent the last five years working at Americans for Prosperity, co-founded by David Koch. Kerpen will not confirm whether the Kochtopus is bankrolling his latest front group.

As for the job creation claims that KeystoneXLnow.com touts, even TransCanada acknowledges that the claim that the project will create 20,000 immediate jobs is false.

TransCanada itself claims the project will create 13,000 direct construction jobs, a number from a report TransCanada commissioned from the Perryman Group. The Perryman Group, however, has refused to release important data behind its estimate, and there are deep flaws in their research methodology. In reality, TransCanada is counting "job years" in its job-creation estimates. In other words, TransCanada believes the project will produce 6,500 jobs that last for two years only.

Six thousand five hundred jobs is a far cry from the 20,000 KeystoneXLnow.com claims are at stake, but according to an independent assessment by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, even the 6,500-job estimate is exaggerated. According to their analysis, the project would produce between 2,500 and 4,650 construction jobs — and could even end up costing the country jobs.

KeystoneXLNow.com also claims that KXL will provide "a secure supply of North American oil", and blames the Obama Administration's policies can for high energy prices. But according to TransCanada, KXL will increase the price of heavy crude oil in the Midwest by almost $2 to $4 billion annually, and those prices could further escalate over several years. This is because tar sands crude that now supplies Midwest refineries will be diverted so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and other export markets.

Consumers in the Midwest could pay 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel — adding $5 billion to annual US fuel costs.

In case there was a shadow of a doubt, KeystoneXLnow.com is little more than a secretly funded special interest group backing GOP candidates, using misinformation that is delaying our transition to a clean energy future. 

May 08 2012

11:27
00:02

Heartland Institute’s Unapologetic Stance to Enormous PR Blunder Exposes – again – Lobby Organization’s Intellectual Dishonesty


The Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012It is no surprise that the Heartland Institue would yet again engage in intellectual dishonesty and scare tactics in its ongoing attempt to confuse and manipulate populate opinion on climate change – they’ve been doing it for years. What has startled everyone this time, from supporters to critics like us, is the boneheaded blunder and pointless tastelessness of the short-lived Chicago-area billboard campaign from the anti-science lobby group Heartland Institute.

What began on Thursday morning ended on Thursday afternoon last week, in what Heartland president Jose Bast characterized as an “experiment,” as they prepare for their seventh annual climate change conference – a denial extravaganza featuring some of the foremost voices in anti-science and denialist rhetoric.

“I feel blindsided,” said Donna Laframboise of NoConsensus.org, a scheduled speaker for the conference until she cancelled in protest of the offensive Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012.

“Suddenly, we were all publicly linked to an organization that thinks it’s okay to equate people concerned about climate change with psychopaths,” writes Lamframboise. “Forget disappointment. In my view, my reputation has been harmed. And the Heartland thinks it has nothing to apologize for?”

A scrolling collection of quotes on NoConsensus includes the very apt question “Should we believe whomever shouts the loudest?”

Heartland's bombast is comicalLamfromboise is just one of several sponsors and supporters that are considering or have already ended their relationship with the Heartland Institute. A Washington D.C.-based arm of the organization involved in insurance reform issues simply up and left, abandoning ship and closing up shop in the wake of reaction from insurance companies and other corporate supporters to the ad campaign.

What also shouldn’t surprise anyone is Bast’s unremitting defiance and refusal to apologize. He needn’t apologize to me. To critics like me that work to expose the Heartland Institute for what it is, such startlingly ill-advised publicity campaigns are a God-send. They do our work for us. Bast should apologize to his supporters, without whom Heartland can claim any credibility to anyone.

Anthony Watts, publisher of the leading climate denial website WattsUpWithThat, claimed that the gaffe is a result of “battle fatigue.”

If that is the case, it is from a battle of the Heartland Institute’s own making.

Additional source:
ClimateWire (subscription required)

Do you want to be associated with this guy?

May 04 2012

20:01

A New Tactic in the Climate Wars

The Heartland Institute deploys the personae of Ted Kaczynski, Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson as poster boys for global warming.

April 02 2012

12:04

On Our Radar: The Bounteous South China Sea

Ties between China and Southeast Asian countries that open a summit meeting this week have been strained as a result of overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

March 30 2012

20:19

GM Dumps Heartland Institute, Will No Longer Fund Climate-Denying Spinstitute

General Motors is breaking up with the Heartland Institute, announcing recently that the company will discontinue funding to the notorious climate-denying spin shop.

The move by GM comes in direct response to a national outreach campaign organized by Forecast the Facts, which garnered more than 20,000 people, including 10,000 GM vehicle owners, calling on GM to drop its financial support of the Heartland Institute.

"We applaud GM’s decision and the message it sends: that it is no longer acceptable for corporations to promote the denial of climate change, and that support for an organization like Heartland is not in line with GM’s values. This victory belongs to the 20,000 Americans, including 10,000 GM owners, who demanded that GM put its money where its mouth is on climate change and sustainability," said Forecast the Facts Campaign Director Daniel Souweine.

Climate One director Greg Dalton revealed the GM pullout after receiving confirmation directly from GM during an event at San Francisco’s Commonwealth Club.  Dalton had pressed GM CEO Dan Akerson about its support for Heartland at a Climate One event earlier this month. Akerson said at the time that he would personally review the Heartland funding. 

Heartland President Joseph Bast was understandably upset to learn of GM's decision to cease any further financial support, but continued to push his trusty shiny penny version of events rather than own up to the real reasons for the waning support of his group's efforts. Internal Heartland documents made public last month exposed the shocking revelation of Heartland's plans to deceive schoolchildren about climate science, most notably.

read more

March 21 2012

23:20

ALEC Climate Change Denial Model Bill Passes in Tennessee

The month of March has seen unprecedented heat and temperatures. A rational thinking, scientifically-grounded individual could only posit, "Well, hmm, I bet climate change has something to do with the fact that in Madison, WI, it is 80 degrees in mid-March. Sometimes it's 60 or 70 degrees colder than this!"

While that individual would be positing something that is the well-accepted scientific consensus, in some states, under law, that is only a "controversial theory among other theories."

Welcome to Tennessee, which on March 19th became the fourth state with a legal mandate to incorporate climate change denial as part of the science education curriculum when discussing climate change.

First it was Louisiana, back in 2009, then Texas in 2009, South Dakota in 2010 and now Tennessee has joined the club, bringing the total to four U.S. states that have mandated climate change denial in K-12 "science" education. 

Many other states could follow in their footsteps as well, given that, as DeSmogBlog exposed in late-January, this is an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model bill, a near miror image of its Orwellian-titled "Environmental Literacy Improvement Act."[PDF]

The machinations of ALEC are best explained by the Center for Media and Demoracy's "ALEC Exposed" project.

The ALEC bill passed as H.B. 368 and S.B. 893, with 70-23 and 24-8 roll call votes, respectively. Tennesse Republican Governor Bill Haslam is likely to sign the bill into law soon.

read more

March 16 2012

04:55

See No Evil At George Mason University

George Mason University (GMU) has labored for 2 years on simple plagiarism complaints.  It has just written self-contradictory findings that avoided seeing plagiarism in the 2006 Wegman Report (WR) while admitting the same text elsewhere was plagiarism.

In March 2010, climate scientist Ray Bradley complained to GMU of 2.5 pages of plagiarism of his paleoclimatology book by the Wegman Report.  In May he added 5.5 pages of WR Social Networks Analysis  plagiarism  and a 1.5 -page subset in a Computational Statistics and Data Analysis (CSDA) paper.

All were based on the work of Canadian blogger Deep Climate, who kept finding more problems. The known total of 80+ pages has 4 PhD dissertations, some lectures, a patent and 7 papers.

Edward Wegman and Yasmin Said published two largely-plagiarized papers in a “peer-reviewed” Wiley journal they edit with David Scott.  Wikipedia pages they copied were better. 

In May 2011, CSDA publisher Elsevier finally forced retraction of the CSDA paper.

 

 

 

 

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March 14 2012

16:02

Heartland Double Standard: Institute Tried to Scam Greenpeace for Internal Documents

A Heartland Institute front man* phoned a Greenpeace activist and lied about his identity in an effort to get her to turn over UN climate conference documents to which he had no legitimate access. Heartland senior fellow James Taylor then boasted about the scam in a press release decrying what he described as Greenpeace's preferential access to UN information.

Now, in a belated act of optimism, Greenpeace's Cindy Baxter has written a letter to Heartland (attached below) requesting an explanation for the double standard. Baxter is asking, in effect, why Heartland thinks it's completely okay for them to misrepresent themselves, repeatedly, and to celebrate the misrepresentations of others who are attacking climate scientists, but then gets all righteous when someone suckers them into handing over their entire budget and fundraising policy for 2012.

The Heartland misrepresentation about which Baxter is now complaining occurred in 2007 at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conference in Bali. The Heartland caller phoned Baxter at four in the morning (Bali time), claiming to represent a U.S. environmental organization and asking if she would hand over the UNFCCC media list - which Heartland clearly had failed to secure through legitimate means.

Baxter demurred, after which Taylor sent out a press release, recounting the conversation, linking to a (possibly illegal) recording that Heartland had made of the phonecall, and "exposing" the fact that Greenpeace has a better working relationship than Heartland with just about everyone in the climate, diplomatic and scientific communities.

read more

March 12 2012

19:59

Climate Change Denial Isn't About Science, or Even Skepticism

Cross-posted from the David Suzuki Foundation's Science Matters blog. By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Editorial and Communications Specialist Ian Hanington.

Let's suppose the world's legitimate scientific institutions and academies, climate scientists, and most of the world's governments are wrong.

Maybe, as some people have argued, they're involved in a massive conspiracy to impose a socialist world order. Maybe the money's just too damn good. It doesn't matter. Let's just imagine they're wrong, and that the polar ice caps aren't melting and the climate isn't changing. Or, if you prefer, that it's happening, but that it's a natural occurrence — nothing to do with seven billion people spewing carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Would it still make sense to continue rapidly burning the world's diminishing supply of fossil fuels? Does it mean we shouldn't worry about pollution?

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March 08 2012

17:57

Heartland has Long History of Blowing Smoke

One of the most bizarre reactions to the St. Valetines Day Striptease, in which the Heartland Institute was tempted by a mild-mnannered scientist to completely expose itself - its strategies, funders and plans for the new year - is the complaint by "neutral" observers like Judith Curry that people were somehow picking on Heartland unfairly.

Even aside from the reams of evidence in the Striptease documents, Heartland has a long history of mining money from questionable corporate funders and then representing itself as a (taxpayer subsidized) "think tank" - as if its some kind of educational organization contributing to the public conversation about difficult issues.

The document - and Heartland's own self-celebrating promotional efforts - make absolutely clear that Heartland is a lobbyist, and given that its favourite client through the years has been the tobacco industry, we know for sure it's a lobbyist with no particular standards.

Here, as evidence toward that point, is a wonderful wrap, by the blog Planet 3.0/Beyond Sustainability of Heartland's history of blowing smoke on behalf of funders Philip Morris, et al.

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March 07 2012

17:59

Kochtopus Cato Institute Power Grab: A Historical Perspective

A new chapter is being added to the ongoing Kochtopus saga. On March 1 the Washington Post, in a story sure to fill the airwaves for the weeks and months to come, revealed the Kochtopus is suing the Cato Institute for control of the recently deceased and former Cato Chairman William Niskanen's ownership share in the think-tank.

The Koch Empire was recently outed by DeSmogBlog as a key seed funder of the climate change denier think-tank, the Heartland Institute. Heartland's internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog (see "Heartland Exposed"). 

Billionaire oil baron Charles Koch is now waging war against another entity that was created with Koch seed money decades ago: the Cato Institute.

The Post explained succinctly:

At the heart of the dispute is the fate of the shares owned by Niskanen, who died in October at age 78 of complications from a stroke. The Koch brothers believe that they have the option to buy Niskanen’s shares, while Cato officials believe that the shares belong to Niskanen’s widow, Kathryn Washburn, according to the complaint.

Cato's Pat Michaels is a key player in the world of climate change denial, "sowing the seeds of doubt" on human-caused climate change.

That said, Cato has also stood up for key libertarian principles in the past that do not fit a partisan framework. Among them: protection of civil liberties, opposition to imperialism, opposition to the war on drugs, opposition to the militarization of domestic law enforcement agencies, and support for gay rights, to name several.

A brief overview of the key movers and shakers behind Cato's ascendancy is important to understand the rise of the Koch Empire and the split between the faux-libertarians and the true libertarians.

read more

March 06 2012

16:59
01:08

Fakegate: Who’s the Fake?


4 out of 5 climate deniers prefer Heartland In recent weeks, the climate community has been in a bit of an uproar over leaked documents from the Heartland Institute (H.I.). One of which was a memo outlining specific strategies that H.I. claims is “a forgery apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute,” not written byanyone associated with The Heartland Institute, “ nor does it “express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics.”

While the jury is still out as to whether or not the H.I. memo leaked by Gleick is a forgery, many are concerned that this incident may tarnish the credibility of climate science and its consensus.  Peter Gleick, president and founder of the Pacific Institute climate research group who fraudulently obtained the documents has admitted to a “serious lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics,” and resigned from his posts on the board of the National Center for Science Education and the chairmanship of the American Geophysical Union task force on scientific ethics.

Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute, the self-proclaimed victims of a dastardly “criminal offense subject to imprisonment,” are now using it for their advantage – fundraising. Prominently displayed on their website: “Left wing groups commit fraud but we’re fighting back. Join our legal defense fund to remove false and defamatory materials and prosecute the true criminals…

Heartland Institutes’s President and co-founder Joseph Bast recently emailed his donors asking for their support:

“I need your help!…Can you make a charitable contribution to our legal defense fund? You would be helping us defend ourselves against a cowardly and criminal attack. You would also help us take down a notch some of the left-wing activists and their friends who so plainly crossed the line this time.”

Now a few things come to mind. For starters, regardless if this memo was a fake or not, the climate denial machine already has a long history of strategic memos that  were leaked.

In 1991, the Information Council for the Environment (ICE) was created by coal and mining associations with the objective to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact) if not a myth” and “attack the proponents [by comparing] global warming to historical or mythical instances of gloom and doom.” ICE disbanded soon after internal memos were leaked to the press.

In 1998, there was the memo drafted by the American Petroleum Institute’s Global Climate Action team that highlighted specific strategies to “inform the American public that science does not support the precipitous actions Kyoto would dictate…” Explicitly, “Victory will be achieved when average citizens, industry leaders and media ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; [and it] becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.”  These strategies included a direct outreach program with information kits and educational materials, recruiting scientists who would publicly debate the science, a national media relations program to generate coverage, the establishment of a foundation to serve as a “one-stop resource on climate science” and grassroots efforts with literature such as peer-reviewed papers, fact sheets and op-eds that would “undercut the ‘conventional wisdom’ of climate science.”

(Any of this sound familiar?)

Then there was Frank Luntz’s memo in 2002 advising Republican leaders on how to win the “environmental communications battle,” particularly to “the global warming debate.” Suggesting a variety of tactics, his foremost advice was to challenge the science and emphasize scientific uncertainty: “The scientific debate remains open…should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue.”  

While Luntz has finally come around to believe in the reality of global warming and agrees with the  consensus, the damage was done and the denial machine continues to challenge the science and emphasize uncertainty.

In December 2010, during the height of Climategate and immediately after correspondent Wendell Goler reported on-air that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record,” Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon emailed a memo to Fox journalists:

“…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

(Yet again proof, as if we didn’t know, that Fox News is in the business of unfair and unbalanced and industry biased infotainment – not news. And the climate denial wheels keep spinning round…)

My second thought and again irregardless if the memo leaked by Gleick was a fake, why ever is the Heartland Institute in such a frenzy, so outraged, so indignant? As in the words of Bast,Left-wing bloggers are filling the blogosphere with quotes from the fake memo, claiming it reveals our “hidden agenda” and “secret plans.” Oh no, sound the alarm!

Look, we all know that H.I. is a key player in sowing doubt and denial, nearly a poster child for the strategies outlined in the API memo. Their publication Environment and Climate News, “the monthly newspaper for common-sense environmentalism,” currently runs with the headline, “Climategate 2   Reveals Further Scientific Misconduct, Doubts.” Their list of contributors, speakers, fellows, so-called experts is a shining constellation of prominent deniers: Sallie Baliunas, Lord Christopher Monckton, Ross McKitrick, Christopher C. Horner, William H. Gray, Myron Ebell, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, PhD, Richard Lindzen, Bjorn Lomberg, Pat Michaels, S. Fred Singer, et al.

To date, H.I. has presented 6 “International Conferences on Climate Change,” sponsored by such unbiased, truth-seeking and yes fossil-fuel-funded organizations such as the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.  Topics include “global warming is not a crisis;” the “widespread dissent to the asserted ‘consensus’ on various aspects of climate change and global warming;” and “new scientific discoveries have cast doubt on how much of the warming of the twentieth century was natural and how much was man-made.”  This past summer’s  6th conference, “Restoring the Scientific Method” acknowledged that the “science of climate change is based on ‘post-normal science’ which substitutes claims of consensus for the scientific method” with “terrible consequences for science and society.”

So, is it defamatory to assert or even reveal that H.I. has a “hidden agenda” and “secret plans” to dispute the reality of global warming? Actually, maybe it is since they’re not being all that  secretive about it – nor is their intent to debate and dispute climate science (or any science that threatens the free market) very hidden.

This brings me to my final point. In his book, Propaganda, social theorist Jacques Ellul writes, “Facts come to be discussed in the language of indignation, a tone which is almost always the mark of propaganda.” More so, “The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed, he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime he himself is about to commit…”

With that in mind, let’s take one more look at Bast’s email:

“When the left runs out of arguments and facts which is usually pretty quickly they turn to attacking our donors. They do this to discourage people from supporting us, as well as other conservative and libertarian groups. We understand their game.”

You bet they do… Cripes, they nearly invented it… in this decades long, fully-funded, industry agenda-driven propaganda campaign to distort, debate and defame the science and reality of anthropomorphic global warming and climate change. All to ensure that we remain content with business, or rather fossil fuel profits, as usual.

And despite Gleick’s actions, which were dishonest, dishonorable, bad and wrong, we are still amateurs at the game – that is if we really wanted to play it and resort to their deceptions or even their obvious tactics like the editing and censoring of news items or federal documents.

Just take look at what they do: All this hubbub about leaked documents and no mention of what went down during Climategate, (and now Climategate2.0)  As Kate Sheppard  writing in Mother Jones eloquently put it, “Heartland didn’t seem to mind when emails between climate scientists that were stolen from a server, made public, and lied about on the internet—either the first or second time it happened. It’s only now that such behavior is “just despicable,” a “violation of journalistic ethics,” and a criminal offense.”

Or when in 2009 climate journalist Andrew Revkin misstated information in an article and caught the heat.  Lord Christopher Monckton accused Revkin and the New York Times of “deliberate misrepresentation”  and of writing a “mendacious article.”

Or consider what H.I. contributor Christopher C. Horner wrote in his Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming:

“The dishonesty and bully tactics employed to preserve the appearance of consensus are startling:” The consensus claim depends on discredited reports, character assassinations and fake experts.” “It’s the greens who seek to censor science and intimidate dissent and debate prompting a stream of intimidation and ad hominem attacks.”Alarmists “have decided that the best way to win the global warming debate is by shouting down the opposition and demonizing them in the eyes of the public.”“When one side is short of persuasive arguments, it resorts to personal denigration of the other side; ignoring its arguments; attempting to silence it; and exaggerating its own claims. All these telltale signs are manifest from the climate change side today.”

Really… yes, they do understand the game alright but just whom are they talking about? Surely not the left who is now in a tizzy about Gleick’s unfortunately questionable means to reveal the conscious efforts to deny climate change.  But hear this, those of you who fear that scientific credibility has been tarnished, we can worry about this so-called Gleickgate, this Fakegate, Climategate(s) – all of the “gates” we want to –  because that is exactly their game – to debate, dispute, distort, deny the science and precisely to tarnish credibility to keep the American public confused and distracted so that we continue to use fossil fuels, build pipelines, bemoan the price of gas without ever demanding green energy, a green infrastructure and a sustainable economy.

Seriously, don’t we have enough to worry about?

The good news is that more Americans believe climate change is happening – because they now have direct experience. Mother Nature has taken care of that. We must now, in good faith, move on and continue to expose the denial machine and all of its tactics, while also moving towards the means of curbing any more effects, and ensure we do the right thing as a nation for ourselves and the planet.

Image credit: ClimateCrocks.com

Internal Heartland Institute Email Blasts “Lamestream Media” for Climate Leak, Mother Jones, By Kate Sheppard Feb. 16, 2012

March 05 2012

15:28

Don’t Blame the Victims: Why Public Outreach By Climate Scientists is More Vital Than Ever

In the last few years—and especially in the wake of the ClimateGate pseudo-scandal—climate researchers have become much more politically engaged. They’ve sought to become better at communication, and to have a greater influence on public policy. They’ve tried to establish rapid response capabilities, and also, better ways of protecting themselves from political harassment and lawsuits.

This didn’t happen by accident. It happened because there has been a long term campaign to attack and discredit climate science, and obscure what we actually know. Ultimately, researchers decided that they couldn’t just be silent as their knowledge was distorted, or as their colleagues were attacked.

So what did they do? Just what Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan would have done—and in fact, did repeatedly on the public issues of their day. They spoke out.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, it is essential. Scientific knowledge is a powerful thing, which is precisely why it is of vital importance that it gets communicated, accurately, in such a way as to influence public policy. If that isn’t happening, then not only is it natural for scientists to step up—they have a moral obligation to do so, and to do so effectively.

read more

March 01 2012

19:36

Heartland Institute: A Manifestation of the Kochtopus Empire

It is nearly impossible to discuss the vast climate change denial echo chamber and not mention the Koch BrothersKoch Industries, and what some have called the Koch Empire.

Perhaps unsurpisingly then, the origins of the Heartland Institute — whose internal documents were recently leaked to DeSmogBlog — have a direct historical link to the rise of the Kochtopus's wide-reaching climate change denial machine.

It all began in 1977 in Wichita, Kansas, with the creation of the Cato Institute.

David Padden, Cato Institute, and the Rise of Heartland

The Cato Institute was founded in 1977 and originally funded by Charles Koch, of Koch Industries fame and fortune.

It is known today for its libertarian policy stances on issues like the War on Drugsanti-interventionist foreign policy, and support for civil liberties, and perhaps most notoriously for its climate change denial and pro-polluter stance in energy policy debates. Cato's most infamous talking head today is Pat Michaels, who serves as its "Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies."

One of the key original members of Cato's Board of Directors was David Padden, a Chicago, IL-based investment banker and then owner of Padden & Company, which now also has a spinoff called Padco Lease Corporation. Padden passed away in October 2011.

In 1984, piggybacking off of his role at Cato, Padden founded the Heartland Institute, also serving on its original Board of Directors.

read more

Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

February 29 2012

23:59

How Heartland-style Climate Sceptic Campaigns Play "Hide the Deniers" Using Secretive Fund

A LOW-PROFILE funding organisation acting as a middleman for wealthy conservative businesspeople has been quietly backing climate denial campaigns across the US.

The Virginia-based Donors Capital Fund and its partner organisation Donors Trust has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups blocking attempts to limit greenhouse gas pollution and undermining climate science.

Yet the structure of the funds allows the identities of donors and the existence of any vested interests to remain hidden from public view.

Step aside the fakery of “hide the decline”. Say hello to “hide the deniers”.

During the 2009 unlawful release of the private emails of climate scientists, the phrase "hide the decline" became a catch cry for the denial industry as it tried to convince the world that global warming was some kind of hoax.

Sceptics, fake climate experts, conservative politicians and right-wing commentators latched onto the phrase contained in an email from British climate scientist Phil Jones.
 
Sceptics claimed it was evidence scientists were trying to manufacture global temperature records. In fact, Professor Jones's email said nothing of the sort. 
 
Jones, as he explained to many, including the BBC, was referring to data taken from tree rings that, up to the 1960s, had correlated well with global temperatures.
 
But “removing the incorrect impression given by tree rings that temperatures… were not rising”, as Jones explained, just didn’t have the same ring to it as “hide the decline”.
 
The most high profile case involving climate sceptics since that non-scandal of “Climategate” is the ongoing unmasking (or for some, confirmation) of the methods the free-market Heartland Institute think-tank deploys to confuse the public about the dangers of fossil fuel emissions.
 
But the case also gives an insight into how Heartland and other ideologically aligned groups gather their funding while preserving the identity of their wealthy backers.
 

read more

February 25 2012

23:40

Heartland Funding Disinformation Echo Chamber

The Heartland Institute has been using its corporate funding to create an echo chamber of experts-for-hire, subsidiary think tanks and websites which all work together to rebroadcast information in Heartland's manufactured controversy about climate change.

In the last week, Heartland has been able to rely on this network - and on its own considerable skill as a propaganda machine - to deflect responsibility for the recent revelations of its own improprieties.

The Heartland Valentine's Day document dump included Budget and Fundraising documents that confirm, for example, that in addition to keeping a stable of pseudo experts on retainer to challenge the world's foremost authorities on climate change, Heartland also makes large and regular investments in other organizations, such as the web-based climate-change denier (and weather man) Anthony Watts.

Watts, in turn, has stepped up this week as the Heartland public relations department, putting his WUWT site at Heartland's disposal for the release of statements and generally defending his benefactor and attacking its detractors.

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