(August 22, 2013) -- The Heartland Institute today became aware of an inaccurate and libelous slideshow on the Web site of the Union of Concerned Scientists called "Exposing the Disinformation Playbook." Heartland is prominently featured. While pretending to expose the tactics and intentions of groups that oppose global warming alarmism, it is itself filled with disinformation, contains few actual facts, employs falsehood and innuendo, and engages in ad hominem attacks.
The UCS slideshow states:
"Heartland has a long history of intentionally trying to confuse the public on behalf of corporate sponsors."
This is absolutely false, malicious, and libelous. We have never compromised our principles or altered our research findings to satisfy or attract a corporate donor. UCS cites no evidence to back up this baseless claim.
Heartland's purpose is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. In the debate over the causes and consequences of climate change, we defend the scientific method and promote legitimate, peer-reviewed research on the question of whether human activity is causing a crisis. We raise funds from some 8,300 individuals, foundations, and corporations. We have policies that strictly forbid undue influence by donors on our research and educational efforts.
Heartland’s efforts in the area of climate change include careful reporting on the debate for the past sixteen years in monthly issues of Environment & Climate News; eight international conferences on climate change attended by more than 3,000 people; scores of policy studies, reprints, and videos; widespread distribution of five books on the subject; and publication of the world’s most comprehensive critiques of the alarmist reports of the United Nations, a series of volumes under the title Climate Change Reconsidered. A third volume in that series will be released in September, which may explain UCS’s decision to attack us in this manner.
We urge the public to go to www.heartland.org/issues/environment and www.ucsusa.org and judge for themselves who is “intentionally trying to confuse the public”: UCS or Heartland? Which organization has produced more scholarly research and informed commentary? Which one devotes most of its attention to politicizing the issue, scaring people with misleading images and rhetoric, and attacking those who disagree? The answer will be clear within a couple minutes.
Slide 39 in the UCS slideshow states:
“Big Carbon wants to sell more coal, oil, and gas—even if it means lying about the scientific evidence showing that the resulting carbon emissions threaten our planet.”
The photo slide shows cooling towers most likely at nuclear power plants releasing steam – not carbon dioxide (which is invisible). Who is “trying to confuse the public”? Even the phrase “carbon emissions” is meant to confuse and mislead, since it is carbon dioxide and not the element carbon that is of concern to some scientists.
Slide 8 refers to Heartland Institute Policy Advisor Steve Goreham: “In February 2013, Goreham claimed that rewnewable sources of energy such as wind power don’t reduce carbon dioxide emissions when they are added to the electric grid.” Slide 9 states: "... wind power itself produces no emissions at all.”
Steve Goreham’s excellent book, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism, is “an amusing and colorful, yet science-based, look at mankind’s obsession with global warming.” [Publishers Weekly] He clearly shows that wind turbines, because they create energy only about 30 percent of the time, require conventional power plants to be constantly ramping up and down to ensure a stable supply to the grid, in the process creating more carbon dioxide than they would in the absence of the windmills. Not a single coal-powered generating plant has been removed from the U.S. grid due to wind power. So Goreham is right.
Slide 14 claims:
“The Heartland Institute is a prime example. For years, the organization has received funding from fossil fuel interests such as ExxonMobil and the coal magnate Koch brothers.”
For which years? How much? And did the funding influence Heartland’s work? Answers to these questions prove that this is a smear intended solely to misrepresent Heartland’s funding base and motivation. The Heartland Institute has not received any funding from ExxonMobil since 2007. Most of our work on climate change (other than reporting on the debate in Environment & Climate News) started in 2008, after ExxonMobil stopped funding us. Heartland received a single donation from the Charles G. Koch Foundation in the last decade: $25,000 in 2012 for our work on health care policy, not climate or energy policy. Funding from fossil fuel and tobacco companies has never amounted to more than 5 percent of Heartland’s annual income.
There is absolutely no evidence, anywhere, that our relationships with Altria, ExxonMobil, the Koch Foundation, or any other donors was anything other than honorable and professional. This is merely an attempt by UCS to smear Heartland by association – helped by a mainstream media that constantly demonizes these companies.
UCS claims that “Koch Industries” funds Heartland and other groups. In fact, Heartland has never received funding from Koch Industries but instead only extremely modest funding from a Koch foundation. UCS, which exercises its right to keep donors anonymous, says it is funded by “foundations” and takes no corporate money. But is that really true by the definition it applies to the Koch foundations? By UCS’s standards, it would be fair to say it is heavily funded by “Big Green Energy.” We have no doubt that it is.
We could go on debunking UCS’ presentation slide by slide – because nearly every one contains disinformation or outright falsehoods – but let’s close with UCS’ claim that groups such as Heartland create an “echo chamber” in which skepticism about global warming alarmism is promoted. The truth is that Heartland is on the outside of an enormous “echo chamber” created by liberal advocacy groups such as UCS. We are trying to introduce a little truth and common sense to the public debate. It’s not easy. Groups like UCS have budgets many times larger than ours, and media bias on the global warming issue is so intense that we’ve been virtually blacklisted (except for pieces that repeat the UCS’s lies and innuendo). Just this week, Al Gore compared us to racists, alcoholics, and Holocaust deniers without a single protest or complaint from the mainstream media. Whose got an echo chamber? Not us.
If you are interested in learning the truth about climate change (and a wide range of other important public policy issues), visit www.heartland.org/subscribe and sign up for free digital subscriptions to some of our publications. You’ll be impressed by the calm and professional tone of our work, as well as our commitment to accuracy and the truth.
Think for yourself. The truth is out there, and it isn’t coming from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Joseph L. Bast
P.S. This isn't Heartland's first rodeo with UCS. See this post from July 2012, as well as the letter below.
Dear UCS supporters,
On July 8, the executive director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, Kathleen Rest, sent another fundraising appeal to her members filled with misinformation about The Heartland Institute. We were NEVER paid by Philip Morris or anyone else to “raise doubts about the dangers of second-hand smoke” and we don’t “sow confusion and doubt “ about global warming. Ms. Rest knows this. She’s simply lying to you.
Actually, we appreciate the opportunity to reach out to UCS members and present our side of the story. It’s quite different from the simplistic and inaccurate propaganda being peddled by UCS and other extremist voices in the global warming/cooling debate.
First, here’s the truth about The Heartland Institute: We are a 29-year-old national nonprofit research and education organization that addresses a wide range of topics, including climate change and other environmental issues. Our mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problem. We are a “think tank” that applies the best available research to some of the world’s toughest problems.
Heartland is rigorously nonpartisan: we offend Republicans and Democrats alike. Our perspective is libertarian: pro-civil and economic liberties. We devote most of our time to communicating directly with elected officials, especially state legislators who are still open to objective research and interested in finding solutions and not just taking sides in political or ideological debates.
Heartland is supported by more than 5,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations. Contrary to efforts by UCS and others to smear us as a “front group” for big corporations, nearly all our work on climate is funded by individuals and foundations with no financial interest in the debate. Like UCS and other groups, we do not reveal the identities of our donors.
We are pro-science: Heartland has worked with hundreds of scientists to give them a platform to communicate with elected officials and the general public. We hosted eight international conferences attended by thousands of scientists, economists, and other policy experts. We published two volumes of Climate Change Reconsidered, a comprehensive and authoritative rebuttal of the alarmist IPCC’s reports that cites thousands of peer-reviewed studies.
Our position on man-made global warming should be familiar to you because it is the position expressed by most scientists familiar with the issue. Global warming and cooling is cyclical, slow, and produces benefits as well as costs. The human impact is small, much less than natural variability. Computer models often cited as forecasting catastrophic warming are not designed to forecast future climate conditions and are widely acknowledged to be unreliable.
Groups such as UCS exploit the public’s lack of scientific training to fuel alarm over what is almost entirely a natural and benign phenomenon. They are using fear of man-made global warming to advance an agenda that has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with politics and ideology.
Attacks on The Heartland Institute from UCS, disgraced climate scientist Peter Gleick, and other advocates and advocacy groups are the result of our effectiveness: we are a target because we are “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change” (The Economist, May 26, 2012). We happily accept this role, and are confident that history will show we were right and our critics wrong about this important issue.
If you are currently a contributor to UCS, I hope you will reconsider your support. UCS truly doesn’t deserve it. It might be too much to ask that you contribute instead to The Heartland Institute ... but if your interest in science and environmental protection is sincere, you could do much worse than making a tax-deductible gift today.
Joseph L. Bast