Good news: Evidence that some petitions work
"the petition from Forecast the Facts calling on GM to stop giving money to the Heartland Institute, a major player in climate change denialism, is having an effect. GM hasn’t promised to end its funding of the Institute’s School Reform News publication, which is dedicated to covering news about things like charter schools and vouchers, but GM CEO Dan Akerson recently told the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco that he is a believer in global warming and that he is committed to “taking another look at” the money that GM gives to Heartland.
The GM-Heartland connection came to light when internal Heartland documents were leaked by the Pacific Institute’s Peter Gleick. From them, we learned that the General Motors Foundation (GM’s charitable arm) made a $15,000 donation in 2011. In San Francisco, Forecast the Facts spurred the Commonwealth Club to ask Akerson about the connection through Facebook and in-person activism.
In response, Daniel Souweine, the director of Forecast the Facts issued a statement that said:
We are encouraged that CEO Dan Akerson has committed to review GM’s funding of the Heartland Institute. We hope that review leads to the result that more than 10,000 GM owners have been asking for: a public commitment by GM to stop funding Heartland immediately.”
More at Green Autoblog w/video interview with GM’s CEO Dan Akerson.
Peter Gleick Admits to Deception in Obtaining Heartland Climate Files
Mixed feelings abound as famed scientist admits to being the source of leaking the Heartland Institute’s internal climate denial strategy plus other documents.
Since the release in mid-February of a series of documents related to the internal strategy of the Heartland Institute to cast doubt on climate science, there has been extensive speculation about the origin of the documents and intense discussion about what they reveal. Given the need for reliance on facts in the public climate debate, I am issuing the following statement.
At the beginning of 2012, I received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate program strategy. It contained information about their funders and the Institute’s apparent efforts to muddy public understanding about climate science and policy. I do not know the source of that original document but assumed it was sent to me because of my past exchanges with Heartland and because I was named in it.
Read the rest, here.
UPDATE: 19 Corporations linked to Heartland as scientists urge thinktank to stop spreading misinformation
More excellent coverage of “denialgate.”
“In the wake of reports linking theHeartland Institute to an alleged anti-science campaign, several scientists, as well as the President of the Union of Concerned Scientists, are publicly asking Heartland to to desist from spreading misinformation and attacking scientists. This news comes as 19 public corporations have been identified for supporting Heartland.
Scientists speak up:
- At 3:24pm EST The Guardian published a report that linked to a letter from a group of climate scientists who have personally been on the receiving end of attacks from Heartland and bloggers funded by the thinktank, and whose email was posted online after a notorious 2009 hack, for Heartland to “recognise how its attacks on science and scientists have poisoned the debate about climate change policy.”
- Also on Friday afternoon in the United States, UCS President Kevin Knobloch published a blog post on the Heartland documents that finishes with this quote: “Heartland called for ‘common decency and journalistic ethics.’ I couldn’t agree more. But an even-handed application of either or both would never lead an organization to dream up a middle- and secondary-school curriculum that deceptively undermines the truth.”
19 Corporations revealed for supporting to Heartland
Secret climate denial documents suggest the Heartland Institute could have lobbying plans, in violation of IRS rules
- At 2:00pm EST Think Progress Green published a report revealing that the climate-denial think tank Heartland Institute received funding from at least 19 publicly traded corporations in 2010 and 2011. The companies’ combined contributions exceeded $1.3 million for an array of projects.
- Some companies have issued statements about their contributions, but none have committed to ending their support for the Heartland Institute.
- “Diageo provided a small contribution (nearly two years ago) to Heartland Institute – related to an excise tax issue,” a spokesperson said. “We vigorously oppose climate skepticism and our actions are proof of this. We will be reviewing any further association with this organization.”
- “GSK absolutely does not endorse or support the Heartland Institute’s views on the environment and climate change,” a Glaxo Smith Kline spokesperson said. “We have in the past provided a small amount of funding to support the Institute’s healthcare newsletter and a meeting.”
- General Motors defends the Heartland Institute as “careful and considerate,” even though the radical think tank has accused “Government Motors” of “corporate welfare-sucking” and told people to “never again buy a GM car or truck.””
Coverage of “denialgate” is increasing. Reblog if you can…
“Heartland, which bills itself as anti-regulatory and libertarian, annually produces climate change “denier” conferences and pays expenses for elected officials to attend. For example, the budget shows that Heartland allocated $304,704 for scientists supporting its contrarian views in 2012.
One of these scientists is Fred S. Singer, a physicist and National Weather Bureau satellite center founder, who is said to receive $5,000 a month. The same day as the document leak, a science watchdog named John Mashey released a detailed investigation into Singer and his Science and Environmental Policy Project, indicating that he failed to properly fill out income forms for the foundation. Singer has previously worked with Heartland arguing that secondhand smoke is harmless. One of Heartland’s funders, according to the documents, is Phillip Morris.
Other scientists, researchers and pseudo-scientists on the Heartland payroll include a former California TV weatherman, Anthony Watts, who runs an anti-climate change science blog called WUWT (Watts Up With That). Heartland budgeted him $90,000 for a “special project.”
On his blog yesterday, Watts admitted taking an unspecified sum:
Heartland simply helped me find a donor for funding a special project having to do with presenting some new NOAA surface data in a public friendly graphical form, something NOAA themselves is not doing, but should be. I approached them in the fall of 2011 asking for help, on this project not the other way around.
The Heartland budget allocates more than half a million dollars for “government relations” and another $800,000 for communications. Besides the big-budget annual climate conference, another $25,920 was budgeted for eight “Heartland Capital Events” identified as “events in state capitals for elected officials,” at $3,240 each.
As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Heartland is legally barred from using its tax-free income of $7.7 million to lobby for or against legislation. The fact that the group appears to be intending to do just that could transform the group’s ongoing public relations disaster into a legal problem. Heartland’s activities are no surprise to environmentalist watchdogs, but actual proof of moneys spent on lobbying activities might affect their legal status, if the IRS bothers to investigate.
Besides trying to influence public (and lawmaker) opinion on fossil fuels and climate change, Heartland works on other overtly political projects that have nothing to do with climate change. The group gave $612,000 for something called “Operation Angry Badger,” aimed at the nonscientific goal of supporting Wisconsin’s anti-union Gov. Scott Walker, who is targeted for recall by progressives.”
Read the rest at Salon
A real climate scandal? Deniers busted: INTERNAL DOCUMENTS: The Secret, Corporate-Funded Plan To Teach Children That Climate Change Is A Hoax
These internal documents from the climate denier machine
will might facilitate much spilling-of-the-ink on enviro and lefty blogs, aggregators, and news outlets in the days to come. Climate advocates will be, of course, quite jubilant in their “I told you so” commentary. I suspect there will be lots of celebration that deniers are exposed for what they are - corporate funded shills.
But, seriously, how will this document dump matter? What will be the effect? For example, will the Koch brothers stop funding deniers?? Will the Heartland Institute suddenly see the light and stop finding ways to impact public opinion on climate?
As a result of a leak, it seems to me these denier groups would just tighten up their internal messaging to prevent future mistakes. I don’t have faith in the enviros to capitalize on this (very interesting) leak. I’ve argued many times on this tumblr that environmentalists are (unfortunately) not very adept at messaging or staying focused on one topic. They’re fantastic reactionaries, but terrible at visioning and affecting change.
Brad Johnson of Think Progress sets the tone:
Internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green reveal that the Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank funded by the Koch brothers, Microsoft, and other top corporations, is planning to develop a “global warming curriculum” for elementary schoolchildren that presents climate science as “a major scientific controversy.” This effort, at a cost of $100,000 a year, will be developed by Dr. David E. Wojick, a coal-industry consultant.
“Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” Heartland’s confidential 2012 fundraising document bemoans. The group believes that Wojick’s project has “potential for great success,” because he has “contacts at virtually all the national organizations involved in producing, certifying, and promoting scientific curricula.” The document explains that Wojick will produce “modules” that promote the conspiratorial claim that climate change is “controversial”:
Read the rest of the document at Think Progress