For the past several weeks, a front-group calling itself “Forecast the Facts” has been contacting donors to The Heartland Institute demanding they publicly commit to withdrawing their financial support. The letters and emails being sent by this group contain false statements that are plainly meant to defame and harm The Heartland Institute. This is our reply.
The campaign actually started on February 14, 2012, when Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute and a leading climate scientist, sent to liberal activists and sympathetic journalists several documents he stole from The Heartland Institute, along with a fake memo he claimed was also from Heartland. On February 20, Gleick confessed to stealing the documents but claimed he received the fake memo “in the mail” from an anonymous source.
The fake memo, titled “January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy,” is a mixture of text copied and pasted from the stolen documents and original commentary by the forger. By distorting and misrepresenting the plans set forth in the stolen documents, the fake memo paints a false and disturbing picture of Heartland’s motives and tactics.
James Delingpole, a columnist for the London Telegraph, dubbed the episode “Fakegate.” The title has stuck, and now Heartland has a Web site at www.fakegate.org that reports the latest developments in the Peter Gleick global warming scandal.
“Forecast the Facts” is using one of the stolen documents, a list of past donors, and the fake memo to attempt to discourage donors from continuing to support The Heartland Institute. Heartland repeatedly has asked “Forecast the Facts” and other environmental groups, bloggers, and liberal advocacy groups to take the fake memo off their Web sites and retract false and defamatory statements based on it. To date, none has done so.
What is “Forecast the Facts”?
“Forecast the Facts” claims to be an organization that works to ensure Americans receive accurate information about climate change. In fact, it isn’t a real organization at all, but a project launched barely three months ago, in January 2012, by 350.org, created by notorious anti-corporation activist Bill McKibben, and Citizens Engagement Lab, itself a creation of MoveOn.org, a George Soros-funded appendage of the Democratic Party.
Its actual purpose, according to its own allies at DemogBlog, is to launch “a new campaign to expose ‘meteorologists blowing hot air.’ Forecast the Facts reveals many of these trusted weather reporters are little more than right-wing spokesmen, feeding the American public shoddy climate science denial.”
In other words, “Forecast the Facts” was originally conceived as a front group controlled by far-left advocacy groups to hide behind while attacking meteorologists, who surveys show tend to be very skeptical of the claims of global warming alarmists. It has been told by its parent organizations in the wake of Fakegate to attack The Heartland Institute.
The myth of 20,000 signatures
“Forecast the Facts” claims more than 20,000 people have called on corporations to pull their support from Heartland. This claim is based on an online petition created by “Forecast the Facts” that recycled false claims drawn from the fake memo at the center of the Fakegate scandal. Since those statements are untrue, the petition is discredited.
Even if it the petition were meaningful, which it is not, there has been no independent confirmation of the number of signatures or of their authenticity. The petition is a fraud.
Did General Motors stop funding Heartland?
“Forecast the Facts” claimed its first scalp when it persuaded General Motors to announce it would no longer fund The Heartland Institute. GM had previously give about $15,000 a year to Heartland. (Heartland’s annual budget is approximately $6 million.)
GM is probably the one company in the U.S. that is most vulnerable to a campaign by left-wing advocacy groups, given its heavy reliance on government subsidies for the Volt, its electric car. Here is how The Heartland Institute responded to the loss of GM’s support:
The General Motors Foundation has been a supporter of The Heartland Institute for some 20 years. We regret the loss of their support, particularly since it was prompted by false claims contained in a fake memo circulated by disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick.
We once again respectfully ask liberal advocacy groups such as Huffington Post, the Center for American Progress, 350.org, and Greenpeace to stop attacking scientists who question the theory of man-made global warming and corporations and foundations that are willing to fund open debate on this important public policy issue.
Heartland’s position on climate change
The Heartland Institute does not “deny the existence of climate change.” It supports research and scholarly debate on the causes and effects of climate change. While the organization itself doesn’t have an “official” position on climate, its spokespersons have repeatedly said they believe some warming occurred in the second half of the twentieth century, there is evidence of a small human impact on climate, and carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.
Heartland’s spokesperson frequently say there is no scientific consensus that most of the global warming of the twentieth century was man-made, or that scientists are able to predict future climate conditions, or, finally, that there is a basis in science or economics for passing laws that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These positions are not controversial among scientists. Surveys and signed petitions show they enjoy extensive support by climate scientists as well as the larger number of scientists who are expert on some parts of the climate change puzzle.
Importantly for public corporations that support us, a majority of Americans also share Heartland’s views on global warming. Rasmussen Reports – a pollster that tends to lean right – reported in April that only 40 percent of Americans believe human activities are responsible for global warming. Gallup– a pollster that tends to lean left – put the figure at 52 percent in March. Other surveys show most Americans put concern over climate change near the bottom of their concerns, and even at the bottom of their environmental concerns.
Heartland has made important contributions to the scientific debate over the causes and consequences of climate change. We have worked with Anthony Watts to expose gross errors in the surface-based temperature data the government relies on to “prove” that global warming is occurring. Watts’ work convinced the government to change the way it tracks temperature data. When EPA announced it was planning to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant, we filed briefs and an 880-page report, Climate Change Reconsidered, proving the science was illegally unsound by being based only on the UN’s IPCC reports, which we have effectively rebutted.
Heartland’s position on climate change is controversial only in the mainstream media (which has decided to treat global warming the way liberal environmental groups tell them to, as a matter of settled science) and in the view of far-left organizations such as “Forecast the Facts.” Heartland, along with scores of other think tanks and a majority of the American people, is saying we need to figure out the very complicated science of climate change before we spend trillions of dollars fixing a problem that may not exist. No one without an ideological ax to grind disputes that.
Heartland’s International Conferences on Climate Change
“Forecast the Facts” says we pay scientists to present at annual climate “denial conferences” where scientifically inaccurate viewpoints are presented as fact. In fact, nearly 3,000 scientists and economists have attended the six conferences we have hosted to date, generating press coverage by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, BBC, and virtually every other major media outlet in the world.
Nearly 100 other independent think tanks and civic organizations have cosponsored Heartland’s conferences. Are they all somehow outside the mainstream? Highly respected scientists, political leaders, and economists have written for Heartland’s publications and spoken at its conferences. Here is a partial list:
- Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic
- John Sununu, former chief of staff for president George H.W. Bush
- James Inhofe, U.S. Senator
- Dana Rohrabacher, U.S. Representative
- James Sensenbrenner, U.S. Representative
- George Allen, former U.S. Senator
- Harrison Schmitt, former U.S. Senator and Apollo 17 astronaut
- Cory Bernardi, Australian Senator
- Roger Helmer, member of the EU Parliament
- John Theon, retired NASA senior atmospheric scientist
- Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- George Kukla, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
- William Gray, emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University
- Roy Spencer, U.S. Science Team Leader for instruments aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite
- Patrick Michaels, senior research fellow at George Mason University and former state climatologist for Virginia
- Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Solar and Stellar Physics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
- Stanley Goldenberg, meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
- Nir Shaviv, professor of physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- Henrik Svensmark, physicist at the Danish National Space Center
- William Kininmonth, former head of Australia’s National Climate Center
- Bob Carter, adjunct research fellow at James Cook University
- Yuri Izrael, former first vice-president of the World Meteorological Organization
- Andre Illarionov, former chief economic advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin
- Gabriel Calzada, associate professor of economics at King Juan Carlos University
- Robert Mendelsohn, professor of economics at Yale University
- James O’Brien, professor emeritus at Florida State University and former state climatologist for Florida
- David Legates, professor of geography at the University of Delaware and former state climatologist for Delaware
- George Taylor, former state climatologist for Oregon.
So … who to believe? Anti-corporate campaigners Bill McKibben and George Soros, or an array of distinguished scientists and economists?
“Forecast the Facts” feigns shock that I would call global warming a “scam” or suggest that a modest amount of global warming would be beneficial. But there is nothing shocking about this perspective. Literally thousands of studies reported in peer-reviewed science journals reach the same conclusion. This is amply documented in the two volumes of Climate Change Reconsidered (totaling some 1,200 pages) that Heartland has produced since 2009. See for yourself by visiting www.nipccreport.org.
Is Heartland trying to infiltrate public schools?
“Forecast the Facts” tries to stir up controversy about one of the projects described in the fake memo circulated by disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick, characterizing it as an effort to “infiltrate public schools” with a climate change curriculum.
Heartland has a long history of trying to get sound science and economics into classrooms, so this effort is also not new. We have sent books, videos, and other educational materials to tens of thousands of educators in the U.S., Canada, England, and India.
Heartland announced before the Fakegate scandal that it was teaming up with Dr. David Wojick, a respected expert on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum design, to produce a K-12 climate curriculum that is free of politics. Everyone interested in finding the truth about climate change should be supportive of this effort. You can read more about that effort in Heartland’s newsletter for members, QPR, at http://heartland.org/media-library/QPR/QPR-2012-1Q-web.pdf.
So in conclusion…
There is much irony surrounding the attack on Heartland’s donors by “Forecast the Facts.” The Heartland Institute was not the villain in the Fakegate scandal, it was the victim. Peter Gleick broke the law, repeatedly, and set back for years efforts seeking a rational debate over climate change policy. Shame on “Forecast the Facts” and its backers for justifying and exploiting Peter Gleick’s bad behavior and personal tragedy.
“Forecast the Facts” is a front group for the individuals responsible for politicizing the science and polarizing the debate over climate change. It has no scientists on staff, no history of participating in the climate change debate, and no credibility. It is promoting the results of a petition that is fraudulent, based on false claims contained in a forged memo. It is grossly misrepresenting The Heartland Institute’s positions on climate change.
Since Heartland does not deny climate change is occurring, and in fact is bringing together the world’s leading scientists and economists to study the issue, it is entirely appropriate that corporations and foundations that have publicly stated their concern over climate change would continue to fund us.
For more information about this controversy, please visit www.fakegate.org. For more information about The Heartland Institute, visit www.heartland.org. And for specific responses to our critics, visit see www.heartland.org/reply-to-critics. Or call 312/377-4000 and ask to speak to Jim Lakely, communications director.
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