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.


  • The latest from Crikey: Heartland launches legal action against climate change bloggers, journos: “Controversial US think tank the Heartland Institute has sent legal letters to bloggers and writers who reported on the release of the leaked Heartland Institute documents last week.”

  • Jack Quinn

    I think that in the first place, it is naive of Heartland to fund such lobbying. It is SCIENTIFICALLY proven that Global Warming is NOT a scam. Parts Per Million of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere have been gradually increasing since the Industrial Revolution. Even now, ppm of CO2 is increasing at an even greater rate. The facts point to the legitimacy of Global Warming. It is a problem that poses a serious threat to the well being of the human race of a whole and for Heartland to blatantly disregard this by funding anti-Global Warming lobbying, in my mind, is simply absurd. Next time, Heartland, before you spend your money on something, make sure that it is money well-spent.

  • […] tanks hit the headlines last week when the U.S. based Heartland Institute became embroiled in the denialgate controversy. Australia has a diverse range of think tanks covering much of the political spectrum, […]

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