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Denialgate - Internal Heartland Documents Expose Climate Denial Funding Network

Posted on 15 February 2012 by dana1981

This is a combined re-post of two major exposé posts on DeSmogBlog (here and here) regarding internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents.

*UPDATE 3* Desmogblog have removed the document Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf from their website as it contained home addresses.  

*UPDATE 2* the link to the climate strategy document below has been removed, as Heartland disputes its authenticity.

*UPDATE* DeSmogBlog now reports on a prepared statement from Heartland Institute regarding the leak:  

The Heartland Institute has confirmed in a prepared statement that it mistakenly emailed its board materials to an anonymous third party - confirming the source of the documents released here on the DeSmogBlog yesterday.

Heartland then goes on allege that one of the documents (the Climate Strategy) is a fake.

The DeSmogBlog has reviewed that Strategy document and compared its content to other material we have in hand. It addresses five elements:

The Increased Climate Project Fundraising material is reproduced in and confirmed by Heartland's own budget.

The "Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms" is also a Heartland budget item and has been confirmed independently by the author, Dr. David Wojick.

The Funding for Parallel Organizations; Funding for Selected Individuals Outside Heartland are both reproduced and confirmed in the Heartland budget. And Anthony Watts has confirmed independently the payments in Expanded Climate Communications.

The DeSmogBlog has received no direct communications from the Heartland Institute identifying any misstatement of fact in the "Climate Strategy" document and is therefore leaving the material available to those who may judge their content and veracity based on these and other sources.

*SkS note: Heartland could easily prove the strategy document is a fake by releasing the email which they claim contained the released documents.


Heartland Insider Exposes Institute's Budget and Strategy

An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self "Heartland Insider" has released the Heartland Institute's budget, fundraising plan, its Climate Strategy for 2012 and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.

It is clear from the documents that Heartland advocates against responsible climate mitigation and then uses that advocacy to raise money from oil companies and "other corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies." Heartland particularly celebrates the funding that it receives from the fossil fuel fortune being the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

Heartland also continues to collect money from Philip Morris parent company Altria as well as from the tobacco giant Reynolds American, while maintaining ongoing advocacy against policies related to smoking and health.

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.

There will be more comment and analysis to follow on DeSmogBlog and elsewhere, but we wanted to make this information available so that others can also scrutinize the documents and bring their expertise to the task.

AttachmentSize
(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf 89.87 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget (2).pdf 124.62 KB
2 Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf 7.4 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990 (2).pdf 2.7 MB
 
Binder1 (2).pdf 55.36 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf 11.28 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf 6.84 KB

Heartland Institute Exposed: Internal Documents Unmask Heart of Climate Denial Machine

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

We are releasing the entire trove of documents now to allow crowd-sourcing of the material. Here are a few quick highlights, stay tuned for much more. -Confirmation that Charles G. Koch Foundation is again funding Heartland Institute’s global warming disinformation campaign. Greenpeace’s Koch reports show the last time Heartland received Koch funding was in 1999

The January 2012 Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy states:

We will also pursue additional support from the Charles G. Koch Foundation. They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000. We expect to push up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to their network of philanthropists, if our focus continues to align with their interests. Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.”

-Heartland Institute’s global warming denial machine is chiefly – and perhaps entirely – funded by one Anonymous donor:

Our climate work is attractive to funders, especially our key Anonymous Donor (whose contribution dropped from $1,664,150 in 2010 to $979,000 in 2011 - about 20% of our total 2011 revenue). He has promised an increase in 2012…”

-Confirmation of exact amounts flowing to certain key climate contrarians. 

funding for high-profile individuals who regularly and publicly counter the alarmist AGW message. At the moment, this funding goes primarily to 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, but we will consider expanding it, if funding can be found.”

-As Brad Johnson reported today at ThinkProgress, confirmation that Heartland is working with David Wojick, a U.S. Energy Department contract worker and coal industry consultant, to develop a ‘Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Schools.’

-Forbes and other business press are favored outlets for Heartland’s dissemination of climate denial messages, and the group is worried about maintaining that exclusive space. They note in particular the work of Dr. Peter Gleick:

Efforts at places such as Forbes are especially important now that they have begun to allow high-profile climate scientists (such as Gleick) to post warmist science essays that counter our own. This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out.” (emphasis added)

Note the irony here that Heartland Institute – one of the major mouthpieces behind the debunked ‘Climategate’ email theft who harped about the suppression of denier voices in peer-reviewed literature – now defending its turf in the unscientific business magazine realm.

-Interesting mentions of Andrew Revkin as a potential ally worth “cultivating,” along with Judith Curry.

Efforts might also include cultivating more neutral voices with big audiences (such as Revkin at DotEarth/NYTimes, who has a well-known antipathy for some of the more extreme AGW communicators such as Romm, Trenberth, and Hansen) or Curry (who has become popular with our supporters).”

-Confirmation that skeptic blogger Anthony Watts is part of Heartland’s funded network of misinformation communicators.

We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.”

Stay tuned for more details as DeSmogBlog and others dig through this trove of Heartland Institute documents. The Heartland Institute's legacy of evasion of this level of transparency and accountability has now been shattered.

Read the documents [all PDF]:

Minutes of January 17 board meeting (.doc)

Agenda for January 17, 2012 Board Meeting

Board Meeting Package January 17, 2012

Board Directory January 2012


Binder 1 (maybe overlap with above documents)

2012 Heartland Budget

2012 Heartland Fundraising Plan

2010 Heartland IRS Form 990 (public document)

Stay tuned… see also DeSmogBlog's Richard Littlemore's coverage.

AttachmentSize
 
Minutes of January 17 meeting.doc 50.84 KB
Board Meeting Package January 17.pdf 7.47 KB
Board Directory 01-18-12.pdf 12.51 KB
Agenda for January 17 Meeting.pdf 8.49 KB
Binder1.pdf 67.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Heartland Budget.pdf 126.68 KB
(1-15-2012) 2012 Fundraising Plan.pdf 91.32 KB
2010_IRS_Form_990.pdf 2.7 MB

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 223:

  1. Stunner #1 - Craig Idso makes a six figure salary from Heartland. Stunning in the large sum of money, and the fact that he's really not that prominent. I don't think Heartland is getting their money's worth on that one!
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  2. Additional information is posted by John Mashley at the following URL:

    http://www.desmogblog.com/fake-science-fakexperts-funny-finances-free-tax
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  3. And they have the gall to accuse climate scientists of being in it for the money!
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  4. Hmm, I wonder... will the mainstream media even bother to report this? I'm thinking perhaps most of them wont, unless and until it becomes a big story through the efforts of a few.
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  5. But ... but ... (splutter) ... isn't it the AGW crowd who have their noses in the trough of a well-funded conspiracy aimed at world domination? The very idea that Anthony Watts might not have the purest scientific motivations is unthinkable.

    No, all these documents are clearly forgeries put together by The Cabal in order to discredit the work of real scientists, like Watts and Bolt and Monckton and ... and ... everyone in the Tea Party. Hmph! This cannot go unpunished. Time for more of OUR kind of science: lawsuits and FOI claims and email hacking. We'll teach those AGW-conspiracy chappies to toe the line.
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  6. Dana,

    I'd be surprised if Idso didn't act as a conduit, funneling a chunk of that money on to others. What I wouldn't give to see all of their past budgets as well.

    I'm sure Anthony will claim that the $88K he's getting is all going towards building this "web site." It will be very interesting to see what it looks like when it's done (if ever, and how much it really cost to put up).

    I think it's no surprise that their 2010/2011 review has a line item labeled "Contributions to Allies" with $0 in both years. They'd never be that obvious, even on their own reports.
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  7. Please notice a couple of things. Most obviously, they believe their own bullshit, or at least most of it. And note what is not there, There is no mention of any attempt to understand and explain climate, only of attempts tho attack the current understanding of the climate. This is, as expected, evidence of wanting science to come up with politically palatable conclusions. No consideration of the possibility that they might be up against inexorable laws of nature and might have to modify their politics accordingly. Magical thinking, if they can argue well enough against something then it must be false.
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  8. Oh look, another 'gate'.
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  9. And don't miss this nugget from their Strategy Memo, which John Cook Tweeted earlier:

    "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."

    Maybe a journalist should give a call over to OSTI at DOE, to get their reaction.
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  10. Deep Climate has a good summary of some of the main documents as well.
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  11. This just goes to show if there is a real conspiracy it will eventually leak. Bert
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  12. Deniergate.
    Heartlandgate.

    These are incredibly devastating revelations-- next a list of all those fake skeptic scientists who have ties with Heartland please.

    "This influential audience has usually been reliably anti-climate and it is important to keep opposing voices out."

    This shows the fake skeptics to be total hypocrites when they falsely claim climate scientists play gatekeepers-- they are accusing others of doing exactly what they are doing (also in terms of Heartland et al. falsely claiming that climate scientists are "in it for the money"). It also calls into question the relationship between Forbes and groups like Heartland and WCR.

    Who else has fallen under Heartland's spell? Why was this information hidden from people? So many questions just waiting for some good investigative reporters to sink their teeth into.
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  13. Not to mention the admission of the existence of a denialist army, as they say they are working in
    coordination with external networks (such as WUWT and other groups capable of rapidly mobilizing responses to new scientific findings, news stories, or unfavorable blog posts)
    (my emphasis added). Do they fund the inciters of hatred, who post email addresses such as Katharine Hayhoe's? Where's my share of the billions supporting AGW 'alarmists' we are always hearing of? I could do with $80K to build a new web site ... tax free, of course.
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  14. I hate to be the fly in the ointment here, but I wonder if this revalation is already too late. Looking at reader comments on news sites and blogs over the last couple of years leads me to feel that the job of sowing doubt has already succeeded. Have people had long enough to make up their minds, set their opinions and move on to other, more recently newsworthy topics?

    I hope not. I cannot back up my conclusions with data but feel that the denialists have given themselves a very strong lead and that few in the media will be bothered to return to climate science as a newsworthy topic.

    Sorry to be so uncharacteristicaly pessimistic.
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  15. @15,

    And predictably the fake skeptics/trolls descend to try and defend the indefensible and dismiss this. LOL.
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  16. DougH @13,

    So WUWT is now confirmed to be part of the disinformation machine. Anthony Watts also is lined up to receive almost $100 000 for developing a web-site dealing with surface temperatures. Roger Pielke senior was closely tied to Anthony's surfacestations.org, I wonder how much (if anything) he receive for his efforts.

    This "debate" is not about science for the fake skeptics-- it is about spin, disinformation, advocacy, ideology and money. EOS.

    I'd like to see their reports circa 2009. I wonder whether or not hacking the CRU was on their agenda? ;)
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  17. Dale @15, neither John Cook nor any other genuine scientist receives money conditional on their "...focus continu[ing] to align with [donors] interests." Evidently funding to and from the Heartland Institute does. This does not mean the individuals involved hold their ideas in order to receive a pay check, but it does mean that their pay check is conditional on their continuing to hold certain ideas.

    In contrast, scientists are not funded to hold specific ideas, but to test them and see if and how they are flawed. What is more, the quickest way to prominence for a scientist is to show how a widely accepted theory is flawed. Thus the payoffs in finances and prestige work in exactly the opposite direction to the payoffs from the Heartland Institute. The former work in favour of critiquing ideas, while the later works in favour only of preserving certain ideas from well grounded criticism.
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  18. Dale @15:
    "John Cook should also specify where all his funding is coming from."
    Skeptical Science doesn't receive any funding.
    "How many billions a year do Governments spend propping up the AGW message?"
    Um, roughly zero?
    "Also I can't believe you're making a mole-hill over a few million a year."
    Just "a few million" from one of the many climate denialist think tanks.

    Denialist damage control has begun.
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  19. Australian readers will be interested in part of the 2012 funding for the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), showing links between Heartland and our very own IPA (Institute of Public Affairs):
    Table 3.
    2012 Personnel Budget for NIPCC Project
    Payment/monthNameChapterInstitutionCountry
    $1,667Robert CarterCo-EditorJames Cook University & Institute for Public AffairsAustralia


    The anti-science brigade have long arms and deep pockets.
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  20. I would add that this documents, just as the climategate emails, were stolen. I would not condone this type of action and I think SkS and the rest of the (true) sceptical community should make this very clear.

    That said, Holly Sh*t
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  21. DaneelOlivaw -- I agree that stealing is bad. Do you know these were stolen? When can it be confirmed that these documents were or were not stolen.
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  22. DaneelOlivaw @20, there is a difference between the University of East Anglia emails, which where hacked (aka, stolen) and these which are reported to have been leaked. As such, the proper comparison (if you want one) is not to the UEA emails, but to the leaking of the Round 0 draft of the next IPCC report. There is an issue about leaked documents, ie, do they represent an illegitimate violation of confidentiality, or are they whistle blowing on matters kept secret in which there is a legitimate public interest in their disclosure. On the other hand, there is no question that hacked information is stolen; and once stolen their leaking may be an illegitimate violation of confidentiality or legitimate whistle blowing, but that does not change the nature of the original criminal offense.
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  23. Someone asking Bill Gates about Microsoft funding Heartland? Not exactly in line with Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation I would have thought.
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  24. #1
    Dana, Australian Dr Wes Allen "weather makers reexamined" seems to have relied heavily on Idso's misrepresentations of the science for his book of fantasy.

    .

    .
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  25. It seems they also have issues with freedom of information. Under "Overheads" in the 2012 budget we find:
    An estimated $36,000 to pay lawyers for litigation over whether Heartland can be forced to hand over records of conversations with a donor of some five years ago. Maureen Martin, our legal counsel, is working with a lawyer in Madison County, which is [d]ramatically reducing what would otherwise be the cost.
    They don't like the tables being turned, apparently.
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  26. DaneelOlivaw,

    I would not condone this type of action and I think SkS and the rest of the (true) sceptical community should make this very clear.

    Sorry, but I absolutely condone this type of action. I consider it a totally valid instance of whistleblowing. Given the stakes for all life on Earth and the secrecy of groups like Heartland, I think it's not just defensible but necessary. If anyone reading this has access to similar documents, I hope you also find the courage to do the right thing.

    Just one man's opinion, of course.
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  27. Stevo@14 "Looking at ..... leads me to feel that the job of sowing doubt has already succeeded. Have people had long enough to make up their minds, set their opinions and move on ...?"

    I know it's depressing Stevo but there are positive indications. The FUD campaign on tobacco did delay action, but action was eventually taken. These clowns are now fighting a rearguard action in most countries and looking to new markets in others rather than pursuing or expanding a successful strategy. Public views on smoking changed and we now have effective programs in place.

    My other example might surprise you. Deodorant. No effective deodorants were available in the 50s. By the end of the 60s absolutely everybody used deodorant. Except for a few diehards .... who claimed that such fripperies were unmanly. (I worked with such a bloke in the 70s who used the 'unmanly' argument. Walking into his office on a warm afternoon when he'd ridden his bicycle to work in the morning was a great incentive for concise speech and brief conversation.)

    I suspect we're moving, however slowly, into the only-the-diehards-say-deodorant-is-unmanly stage of climate discourse.
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  28. I just tried posting a couple of comments over at WUWT, wondering what theur response might be to DenialGate. Instead of the usual awaiting moderation message nothing appeared at all. So I thought something had gone wrong and resubmitted the comments. And got a 'you have already posted that comment' reply. So they have them but they aren't coming up. Very queer. I wonder if they have gone into lock-down.

    Anyway, these were the comments I posted to no avail - maybe Anthony might get around to responding when he is a little less busy:

    ===============================================================
    Since you don't have a post up yet about Denialgate, I will comment here and you can then transfer comments across when WUWT does comment.

    One important comment that struck me from Heartlands little treasure trove was this this juicy little gem:

    “Development of our “Global Warming Curriculum for K-12 Classrooms” project.

    Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective. 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 (my emphasis).We tentatively plan to pay Dr. Wojick $100,000 for 20 modules in 2012, with funding pledged by the Anonymous Donor.

    Cant have teachers teaching now can we.
    And pay a lot of attention to the ‘Anonymous Donor’ We will no doubt hear more about them, whoever they are. And generous to a fault:

    2006 – $1,559,703
    2007 – $3,277,000
    2008 – $4,610,000
    2009 – $2,170,590
    2010 – $1,664,150
    2011 – $979,000

    Nearly 15 Million ponied up so far to fund the denial machine in just one ‘dont think tank’. Wouldn’t we love to see similar accounts from all the other dont think tanks.

    In the best of American traditions. You can always get what you want if you are willing to pay enough for it. And so the dumbing down of America continues….
    ===============================================================
    Anthony, when will the new Temperature website be up and running? I'm sure Heartland and their Anonymous Donor would like to know their $88K is being well spent.

    And nearly $400K for the NIPCC Report. A bit pricy don't you think when the scientists who work on the IPCC report do it Pro Bono.

    Still $144K for Craig Idso, $60K for Fred Singer, even $20K for Bob Carter down in Australia. One only needs a few nice gigs like that and you have yourself a 'nice little earner' as they say.
    =============================================================
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  29. adelady, as ever your masterly way with words has lifted my spirirts. After that quick squirt to my armpits I'm already feeling refreshed. (I shall press the metaphore no further.)

    DaneelOlivaw, I've gotta agree with Phila and Steve L. These documents were leaked by a whistlebolower and not stolen or hacked. As far as we can see they are complete documents. The onus is upon us to neither misquote nor misrepresent them.

    Let the ugly truth speak for itself.
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  30. Dale
    There is a big difference between hiring a person to educate the general public about the findings of peer reviewed science and paying backhanders to selected persons for the purpose of keeping the public misinformed and in the dark about it.
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  31. Sorry, but I don't really see much difference; hacking or leaking... the end result is that private documents are being made public and that is ethically (if not legally) wrong.
    Besides, the denialist crowd has also claimed that the UEA emails were leaked. From their side, the hacker actions were also justified since they view climate scientists as a threat in a similar way that we view professional deniers.

    I understand that some times the ends justify the means BUT I think that's at leas a conversation worth having. There is a moral component to reading and using this documents.

    Also, there's an argument about maintaining the moral high ground and not stooping to their level.
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  32. Glenn @ 28, Your figure for the NIPCC report is a bit low. It is actually at total of $1,593,000, with payments to lead authors accounting for $467,000 of that. See "Table 2. Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) Budget: 2010 - 2013".

    It seems that the price has gone up since the days when treachery could be bought for thirty pieces of silver.
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  33. I wonder how the Web's self-styled "#1 science site" meshes with receiving funding from a source comitted to "... dissuading teachers from teaching science". Will we hear dear old Anthony decry the Heartland Institute for being deliberately anti-science and returning the funding he's been given? Or will Watts tacitly accept he's also anti-science and give up his "#1 scinece site on the Web" tag?

    I suspect a big hypocritical dose of neither...
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  34. Daneel @ 31, here is a difference: UEA emails were cherry-picked and quoted out of context, deliberately distorting their content and misrepresenting the intent of the authors; Heartland documents are being quoted verbatim and context is being given, without lies, spin or distortion.

    Like the UEA emails, these documents are now in the public domain. Were they stolen? Were they obtained by hacking into computers? Were they leaked by a legitimate whistle-blower? No doubt, Heartland will expand their budget to include monies to obtain legal redress, if a crime has been committed.

    The future of the planet is being threatened by organisations like Heartland, who do their best to obfuscate and disinform legislators on matters relating to the climate.

    For good or ill, the genie is now well and truly out of the bottle. I am happy to do my best to ensure that the cork cannot be replaced.
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  35. DaneelOlivaw @31, you are entitled to your own opinion (which is a polite way of saying that you are wrong). However, with hacking there are two questionable actions:

    a) The acquiring of information by an unauthorized person by illegal means; and

    b) The revealing of information to unauthorized people.

    With leaking, only the second applies. That is a clear difference. It is the same sort of difference that allows us to distinguish between burglary and embezzlement.

    Further, regardless of what various so-called "skeptics" claim, the fact remains that the Norfolk police are conducting a criminal investigation into what they believe was a hack. The so-called "skeptics" may know better, but only if they know who did it, in which case they are accessories after the fact by not reporting that information to police.

    Finally, regardless of the merits of this particular leak, it is in the public interest to know when particular commentators are being paid for the opinion they hold. I think it should be a matter of law that think tanks and lobby groups should be required to detail:

    1) Who has paid them what, and what are the conditions of the grant; and

    2) What moneys they have paid out to whom, and what are the conditions of the grant.

    Failing such law, democracy devolves to plutocracy with the highest anonymous bidder calling the shots. The ethical problem with this leak comes primarily from the fact that it presents a partial picture, rather than from any possibility it fails a public interest test for whistle blowing.
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  36. It would be interesting to compare the "pay to talent" ratios of the denialists with those of James Hansen, Michael Mann, Ben Santer, etc. To keep the numbers on the same page, you'd have to plot them on a log scale!
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  37. So now the truth is out. It is not interpolation or extrapolation but projection! Bert
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  38. DaneelOlivaw@31 - Naivety will not save the planet.

    Whistle blowing is a legitimate and necessary way of exposing things against the public interest. In this case, the interests of the planet we call home.

    If you recollect, deniers first blamed someone within the East Anglia CRU because it added to their “claim” of a cover-up but it was illegal hacking of emails that went through the public airwaves that were used to try to discredit these scientists.

    You can be pretty positive these documents never got outside the confines of the Heartland Institute, so whistle blowing was the only way this was going to get out.
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  39. "The environmental movement needs voices devoted to sound science ... "

    http://heartland.org/issues/environment
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  40. One thing, no more "gate" please. I'm not the only person who find suffixing every claimed scandal with "gate" to be irritaing. Something else please!

    Now, what does this actually reveal? Well, nothing that we didn't suspect. They are talking about raising money but there is no indicatation that money is their primary motivation. Everything that they say supports claims of a primarily ideological rather than pecuniary motive for their actions. There is little talk about scientific reasons. Granted, I would not expect to fing a lot about the science in the plans of a political body. They have already sold themselves on the science and believe themselves. But they only talk about attacking the science of others and do not talk about any attempts to understand the climate themselves. This is, I think, revealing about the mindset.

    What would be a bad idea is to force these revelations into a pattern that maximises how righteous it feels to oppose them. I am talking about focussing on the money and ignoring the blindness that ideology can bring.
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  41. Well, I shall be writing two e-mails today:

    One to Naomi Oreskes wishing her a very happy day and one to Microsoft.
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  42. Lloyd Flack's comment at #7 pre-empted my thoughts after reading the Anticlimategate* material, but it bears repeating...

    The Denialati are not interested in science, they are intent on the promulgation of propaganda. This says everything about the veracity of their 'case'.

    And what's the story with almost $100k for another surface stations project for Watts? Have they forgotten already that both Menne et al 2010 and their own sanctioned BEST [sic] project confirmed that there is no story there, other than what the professional scientists had said all along?

    I almost hesitate to use the word, but 'whitewash' anyone?

    Another thing: there has always been a clamour from the contrarians for various scientists to release their emails because they are public servants. Well, if the denialist lobby is intending to become involved in pushing curriculum units in public schools, doesn't that make them liable to the same requirement for public scrutiny? Can we now expect their all of email exchanges to be released? Geese and ganders, after all...

    Finally, Stevo, I wouldn't call you pessimistic, but realistic. The difference between smoking and global warming is that the whole of humanity and the biosphere is involved in the latter, most with no choice in the matter, and the warming/change is a juggernaut that can't be stopped once the momentum has significantly started. The smoking/harm relationship may be thought of as an arithmetic one and reversible except for the direct (usually voluntary) victims, where the emissions/harm relationship is geometric and irreversible even for people/species that have/had no involvement.


    [* Sorry, Lloyd, but the -gate is too juicy to resist.]
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  43. I am glad Daneel Olivaw raises the point that these are ill-gotten documents.

    It at least introduces a moral quandary, and realize the first line of defense from the deniers will be "what happened to your pious, sanctimonious drivel about stolen documents".

    This is a moment that we will learn something about ourselves (and indeed at the current ratio of 17:1 we now know).

    Using the term "whistleblower" makes us feel better. Rationalizing that this is for the good of humanity (which I happen to agree with) makes us feel better.

    Perhaps it comes down to the fact that I make no moral distinction between burglary and embezzlement (indeed I would take embezzlement as a worse crime because of the betrayal of trust).

    Just as freedom of speech necessarily implies tolerance for hate speech, claiming the moral high ground in terms of how information is obtained necessarily implies not getting some potentially damaging information (say the budget and internal operating memos of the Heritage Foundation).

    At a minimum, it would behoove us to acknowledge we are ceding that portion of the high ground. Self awareness is a valuable asset.

    Would knowing the identity of the "whistle blower" make this any more morally palatable? I don't think so - as the core issue is that these documents were obtained against the will of the document owners, and while I completely agree with Tom Curtis that the funding information SHOULD be public knowledge, the fact is it is NOT public knowledge, and this document cache is much larger than just who the funder are.

    I wonder if the Heritage Foundation will claim they are just forged documents?
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  44. actually thoughfull wrote "indeed I would take embezzlement as a worse crime because of the betrayal of trust"

    The whole point of being a whistle blower is that the person concerned realizes that their trust was misplaced. While employers should feel they have a right to rely on the trust of their employees, they have a responsibility to be worthy of their trust. It is a two way street, with rights come responsibilities.
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  45. Dikran Marsupial - I agree. I was using Tom Curtis's analogy regarding embezzlement and burglary.

    As much as I abhor, detest what the Heritage Foundation does, and consider the Heritage Foundation to be evil, I am not aware of anything they were doing that is, in fact, illegal. Whistle blowing would seem to require an illegal activity that is exposed through the action of the whistle blower. If I missed that then I apologize.

    Without an illegal activity, we have a group actively working against the future of mankind, but not doing things that are explicitly illegal (some would say a synonym of this is "Congress").

    Heritage has rights. They were violated. It wouldn't be a moral dilemma except for the fact that the violation of their rights benefits mankind (possibly - it depends if the media grabs onto this like they did the climategate thing - that is unknowable at the moment). After all, these budgets and memos aren't warming the planet and melting the glaciers - excessive CO2 emissions are - and that was established scientifically long before this, long before climategate.

    There is no scientific battle - there is only the political battle left. Lots of fantastic science left to do, but none that will change our actionable understanding of the problem.

    And winning political battles appears to be a dirty business. I think acknowledging the moral conflict is honest, and serves us well. This genie isn't going back in the bottle, but to stridently claim that this is remarkably different that the theft of the emails rings hollow and shrill, and is going to interfere with the real story.

    Always disarm your opponents strongest argument at the outset. Acknowledge the source was stolen documents. Then talk about what is IN those stolen documents.

    Win the political battle.
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  46. Actually thoughtful, there is a major difference here. Someone who was involved at a level deep enough to have access to these documents found it necessary to have them exposed. Someone with a conscience thought about it and made the decision. It is not at all like a hack who certainly was paid for his/her performance.

    That is why whistleblowing is so unlike hacking. Nobody leaked the UEA e-mails because nobody believed that there was really anything to leak, anything that was objectionable enough to be revealed. The e-mails were stolen then carefully cherry-picked and misrepresented to ensure maximum effect.

    Someone involved with Heartland believed these were bad enough that everybody should be aware of their existence. I guess there is hope after all.
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  47. AF, I do see what your point is, however (posted a little too fast) and it is valid. The political battle is indeed dirty business. I won't go to the "they started it" argument.

    It is unfortunate that it came to this. Tobacco harmed in more ways than just COPD, heart disease and cancer. It brought the bullshit wars to the point where most regular people can't tell what's real anymore. That the media is no more qualified than the public and feels obligated to always present "both sides" does not help. We live in a time when there is no reality, only opinions to be manipulated.

    Reality always catches up of course. For smokers, it takes some years and manifests most of the time as COPD, of which an exacerbation combined with pneumonia will usually lead to the end. For GW, we'll see.
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  48. DaneelOlivaw@31 &20 - I have to join with the other above who've correctly pointed out that leaking is a fine and legitimate tradition in Western democracies, or do you think Wikipedia and Julian Assange have been barking up the wrong tree too?

    In the late 1990's the world had a remarkable insight into the world of anti-environmental in a book written by New Zealander Nicky Hager based on the leaking of a literal filing cabinet of documents called "PR spin Secrets and Lies: The Anatomy of an Anti-Environmental PR Campaign", which was co-authored with Bob Burton and published in 1999. It documents the public relations information put out by Timberlands West Coast Limited in order to win public support for logging of native forests on the West Coast of New Zealand.

    It broke new ground in the understanding by progressive movements of the forces ranged against them. It would never have happened if some courageous office junior hadn't said to themselves "this is wrong, and the world needs to know about it" - and then was smart enough to go to Nicky, who has since written several other high impact exposes of injustice and political skull-duggery.

    Leaks and whistle-blowing happen all the time and are an important check on the abuse of power in open societies. I can only speculate about what motives anyone would have for opposing this, but naivety is certainly the most generous.
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  49. @Actually thoughtful I am not convinced that the distinction between illegal and immoral is the point where whistleblowing moves from acceptable to unacceptable. It seems to me that plenty goes on in the world of business that is technically legal, but unethical and/or immoral and not in the public interest. I suspect that the action of whistleblowers in such circumstances has occasionally resulted in changes in legislation to close loop-holes in the law that are being exploited to the detriment of society, which suggests that simple legality is not the best criterion as the law is sometimes inadequate and needs patching.

    The point is that the ethics of whistleblowing are not clear cut. It would be nice if we could all just stick to the science and act in a rational manner in accordance with our best understanding of the relevant issues. Unfortunately this isn't going to happen any time soon :-(
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  50. AT@45 and PC@46

    Many countries have Whistleblowing laws designed to protect people who provide information exactly like this.

    No country has laws to protect hackers gaining similar information.

    A commonly accepted definition specifies that 'whistleblowing’ is:
    … the disclosure by organisation members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers to persons that may be able to effect action.

    http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/rn/2004-05/05rn31.pdf
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