David Suzuki: It's time that climate-change deniers were exposed

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      When hackers broke into an Internet server at East Anglia University in the U.K. and selectively released massive amounts of correspondence from the world’s leading climate scientists, folks at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute were quick to exploit it.

      Heartland president Joseph Bast wrote: “The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position.”

      He may have been correct, although “reconfirm” would have been a better word than “reconsider” as seven independent investigations cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing and confirmed the credibility of their research.

      Now the tables have been turned on the libertarian “charitable” organization, which devotes its resources to questioning the reality of climate change and the dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke, among other issues.

      Heartland is just one of many organizations dedicated to spreading doubt and confusion about legitimate science. These groups share a lack of transparency and an agenda to promote corporate interests at the expense of human health, the environment, and even the economy (if we believe the economy should function primarily in the interests of citizens rather than corporations).

      Recently, someone—since identified as climate scientist Peter Gleick—sent documents from the Heartland Institute’s board of directors’ January 17 meeting to a number of people and organizations, including Desmog Blog, a website devoted to exposing the spin around climate change denial. The documents confirm much of what we already knew about Heartland, although they provide interesting details about its connections and motives.

      Not surprisingly, the Heartland people don’t see this as “an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others” to learn more about the secretive group’s agenda. Instead, Heartland posted a statement on its website saying, “honest disagreement should never be used to justify the criminal acts and fraud that occurred in the past 24 hours.”

      Unlike most environmental and social justice organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, the Heartland Institute doesn’t publicly reveal information about where it gets its money and what it does with it.

      These documents indicate that Heartland has offered U.S. weatherman blogger and climate change denier Anthony Watts close to $90,000 for a new project. They also reveal that Heartland funds other prominent deniers, including “Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals..."

      The papers also confirm that the institute’s primary mission is to discredit the established science of human-caused climate change. And even though it has received funding from wealthy individuals and corporations in the fossil fuel and tobacco industries, including the Koch brothers and RJR Tobacco, it gets most of its money from a single anonymous donor, who has ponied up as much as $4.6 million in a single year, 2008.

      If these groups were truly engaged in questioning the science, using valid scientific methods and principles, it wouldn’t be a problem. Science is strengthened through scrutiny and challenges; that’s how it works, and that’s what the peer-review process is about. But these organizations are engaged in secretive and dishonest lobbying and public relations efforts aimed at stalling measures to protect the environment and health.

      Gleick has admitted that he made a mistake in posing as someone else to obtain the documents. The unidentified East Anglia hackers were also wrong to have stolen the emails, and the Heartland Institute is wrong when it lies about the most serious threat to humanity.

      Three wrongs don’t make a right, but there are some differences. In the East Anglia case, the investigations turned on those who were hacked and ultimately proved that the climate scientists, although human, are engaged in sound and verifiable science and that they have been subjected to years of harassment and bullying for their work. The Heartland documents show that the organization is using its taxpayer-supported status to spread lies and misinformation.

      It’s about time these “merchants of doubt” were exposed. It’s time to get back to real science as practiced by scientists. We must get beyond the false debate about the reality of climate change and into the real debate about what to do about it.

      Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation editorial and communications specialist Ian Hanington. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org.

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      Mark Fornataro

      Feb 21, 2012 at 5:05pm

      Peter Gleick should be given an award for his expose. The Heartland Institute
      gang should be prosecuted for endangering public safety and for libelling legit climate scientists.

      Lee L.

      Feb 21, 2012 at 6:21pm

      Woo hoo! Dave.
      "Unlike most environmental and social justice organizations, including the David Suzuki Foundation, the Heartland Institute doesn’t publicly reveal information about where it gets its money and what it does with it."

      Seems like you DO, however, have to produce an annual report.
      Most interesting to me was a list of donors in David Suzuki Foundation's Annual Report 2005-2006. The list of donors includes EnCana ( tar sands development), ATCO gas etc).

      Well funded eh?

      Doctor

      Feb 21, 2012 at 8:30pm

      Unfortunately, even real science as practiced by real scientists isn't immune from denial spin, even (especially) in Canada's MSM. This week the Globe and Mail published not one but two stories based upon the same peer-reviewed article authored by Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart. Headlines trumpeted that now we could all rest easy as "Coal, not oil sands, the true climate change bad guy" and "Oil sands not so dirty after all". Yet, if one actually reads the original article, (in the science journal Nature) you'll find nothing which backs up these spurious assertions. Andrew Weaver and Neil Swart should be screaming foul right about now, while tar (not oil) sands proponents are gleefully rubbing their hands. Good one G&M.

      NoLeftNutter

      Feb 21, 2012 at 8:40pm

      Gee, considering that co-founder of DeSmog blog James Hoggan is the chair of the DSF should anyone be surprised that professor fruit fly thinks this criminal act is perfectly OK? Compare the $6.4M Heartland Fund versus the tens of billions that have been spent on the CAGW scam and which side is actually winning the war based on the scientific proof, it's no wonder Suzuki still wets the bed.

      Zen Cat

      Feb 21, 2012 at 8:52pm

      I'm curious why people choose to support investing in denial of the obvious deterioration of our climate and environment? Where do these deniers live-- are they on Earth? If they are, it appears they are completely detached from a global reality. Why can't people accept the obvious information received and perceived through utilizing any of the 5 senses many of us a born with, and do something to help restore and sustain our earth? I hear a lot about how the deniers have sold their souls to the people in corporations that only see the money. Money is a currency. Money is energy. Money comes and goes and flows. What a concept if we could globally focus on being responsible and accountable: To Earth regardless of who we are? We know and have known for about 50 years as a human race what is compatible with earth's environment and what is not. How stupid can we be to continue to destroy our home and everything living on it because some "men in power" want to continue the pursuit of raping the earth, driven by greed and the dependency and addiction to black coal, texas tea aka oil? Dr. David Suzuki: "We invent our future every day. Choose wisely. " I see newborn babies of all species and think, will she/he ever see real animals? Real forests? Real oceans? Real air? Real earth? Will there be anything left for generations to come ? Or will we stand still while the earth continues to turn and times goes by and everything living becomes extinct hoping our stock in the deniers will pay off someday? ? Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. ? ~Buddha

      Humpty Numpty

      Feb 21, 2012 at 10:33pm

      Hey, congrats, Lee L. Through some brilliant sleuthing of publicly available documents you have revealed that the David Suzuki Foundation got some donations more than 6 years ago from companies that are involved with natural gas. I guess that's why the Suzuki Foundation supports the tar sands and fracking and Northern... Oh wait. I see. You don't really have a point - just desperate to find any way you can to support your right-wing climate change denial lunacy! Gotta love the Heartland!

      13 7Rating: +6

      Papertiger

      Feb 22, 2012 at 12:13am

      When hackers broke into an Internet server at East Anglia University in the U.K. and selectively released massive amounts of correspondence from the world’s leading climate scientists, folks at the Chicago-based Heartland Institute were quick to exploit it.
      ""'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
      That's not actually true. When the climategate emails first appeared on The Air Vent and WUWT both Anthony and Jeff checked with East Anglia University to make absolutely sure they were dealing with real CRU emails. Then after that was confirmed they released them to the wider world, including Joe Bast and the Heartland Institute.
      """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""
      ...seven independent investigations cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing and confirmed the credibility ....
      '''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''
      Suzuki may be correct, although “friendly co-benefactors” would have been a better word than “independent” as the first of these seven were conducted by the Penn State ethics committee, and we learn that Peter Gleick is the leader on ethical questions at the AGU.

      TO tired to read any further...

      11 7Rating: +4

      ClimateRealism

      Feb 22, 2012 at 3:36am

      Suzuki, where in the documents does it show that Heartland is spreading “lies and misinformation.” ? That is a serious unfounded allegation.

      MarkBowen

      Feb 22, 2012 at 10:15am

      @CliamteRealism, just takes 2 seconds of Google to look up the docs yourself. Here's a snippet:

      "To counter this we are considering launching an effort to develop alternative materials for K-12 classrooms. We are pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools. Dr. Wojick is a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science. His effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science. We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.”

      9 7Rating: +2

      Papertiger

      Feb 22, 2012 at 1:38pm

      Mark Bowen, why are you quoting the document that everyone agrees is the fake?

      9 11Rating: -2
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