Australia: Climate Skeptics in Denial Over Heartlandgate Controversy

Allegations of the Heartland Institute funding an Australian scientist to promote climate skepticism have brought denials from fellow skeptics in response to a barrage of criticism.

dana1981 at Skeptical Science ‘Getting skeptical about climate science skepticism’ was quick to share “major exposé posts on DeSmogBlog” in Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy:

Heartland's policy positions, strategies and budget distinguish it clear as a lobby firm that is misrepresenting itself as a “think tank” – it budgets $4.1 million of its $6.4 million in projected expenditures for Editorial, Government Relations, Communications, Fundraising, and Publications, and the only activity it plans that could vaguely be considered policy development is the writing of a curriculum package for use in confusing high schoolers about climate change.

Jennifer Marohasy is a regular critic of climate change activists on her self-titled blog. She reposted Heartland’s denial and a statement by Bob Carter, the scientist in question, with a clear message in Tiny Budget for Heartland Institute Trying to Counter Global Climate Madness and Scientific Fraud:

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

Response from Heartland Institute

In the war on climate change ….. Your Democracy’s John Richardson was concerned about the sources of Heartland’s funding:

But the cache raises an equal number of questions – such as the identify of an anonymous donor that has been a mainstay of Heartland. The unnamed donor, who contributed $4.6m in 2008, has since scaled back contributions. Even so, the donor's $979,000 contribution in 2011 accounted for 20% of Heartland's overall budget, the fundraising plan says.

In a detailed post at Australian Climate Madness, Simon accepted Heartland’s claims that documents had been “fabricated”. He was also keen to dismiss comparisons with the email controversy Climategate:

In terms of moral equivalence, what Heartland is doing is not surprising; seems to be no different than what other advocacy groups do. The IPCC is a very different organization, and also the CRU/UEA, with explicit requirements for government accountability. So in terms of a scandal, I would have to say that Heartlandgate is nowhere near Climategate.

Online media site Crikey has reported on the leaks and raised the role of an Australian think tank:

The Institute for Public Affairs has previously sponsored Heartland’s climate change conferences — where Carter has been a regular speaker — which almost exclusively feature experts and academics who disagree that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases through burning fossil fuels represent a significant risk.

Jennifer Marohasy, quoted above, worked for the IPA as a researcher for 5 years.

In a follow-up on the Crikey blog Rooted, Amber Jamieson speculated about the identity of the alleged donor in Who’s the Anonymous Donor keeping a climate sceptic think tank afloat?

Meanwhile Joanne Nova, of JoNova: Science, carbon, climate and tax – Tackling tribal groupthink, seemed upbeat about the controversy:

The believers of man-made-weather-disasters are wetting themselves with excitement. It painful to watch grown men drool.

She saw Heartland as a very efficient operation and took a swipe at climate change advocates on the public payroll:

And if Bob Carter receives an honorarium type amount of $1500 a month, the pull of those big dollars must be powerfully tempting for people like Tim Flannery who struggle along on about $1200 each day he works.

Climate researcher Tony Rafter’s tweet seemed apt, given all the claims and counterclaims of hypocrisy:

@tonyrafter 12:26 AM – 16 Feb 12
“If you like your hypocrisy sandwiches served with a side order of double standards” check out the #Heartlandgate leaked docs!

Issues related to funding of and by think tanks, and their independence and objectivity, are an ongoing source of online debate down under.


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