The Chicago based think tank, the Heartland Institute, temporarily launched a new billboard campaign designed to associate believers in climate change to terrorists like Ted Kaczynski – the Unabomber, Charles Manson, Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages in the Discovery Channel studios). What do all of these people have in common, other than the fact that they are pretty much universally despised? They have all, at one time or another, expressed concern about global climate change, as do 62% of Americans, most of whom, presumably, have no body count.
On their website, the Heartland Institute explains why they chose those particular people:
Because what these murderers and madmen have said differs very little from what spokespersons for the United Nations, journalists for the “mainstream” media, and liberal politicians say about global warming. They are so similar, in fact, that a Web site has a quiz that asks if you can tell the difference between what Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, wrote in his “Manifesto” and what Al Gore wrote in his book, Earth in the Balance.
The point is that believing in global warming is not “mainstream,” smart, or sophisticated. In fact, it is just the opposite of those things. Still believing in man-made global warming – after all the scientific discoveries and revelations that point against this theory – is more than a little nutty. In fact, some really crazy people use it to justify immoral and frightening behavior.
Of course, not all global warming alarmists are murderers or tyrants. But the Climategate scandal and the more recent Fakegate scandal revealed that the leaders of the global warming movement are willing to break the law and the rules of ethics to shut down scientific debate and implement their left-wing agendas.
Scientific, political, and public support for the theory of man-made global warming is collapsing. Most scientists and 60 percent of the general public (in the U.S.) do not believe man-made global warming is a problem. (Keep reading for proof of these statements.) The people who still believe in man-made global warming are mostly on the radical fringe of society. This is why the most prominent advocates of global warming aren’t scientists. They are murderers, tyrants, and madmen.
Heartland pulled the campaign within 24 hours.
The site then goes on to say that the majority of scientists are not on board with man-made climate change.
No, this is just a myth that gets repeated over and over by global warming advocates. The alleged sources of this claim are two studies. One is a survey that didn’t ask if global warming is bad or even how much of past warming was man-made. That survey also excluded all but 79 (not a typo!) of the thousands of people who responded to it in order to arrive at the 98 percent figure.
The other study reported the number of times global warming alarmists and realists appeared in academic journals, and found that a small group of alarmists appeared hundreds of times. That doesn’t mean they are more likely to be right. In fact, there are many reasons why realists appear to be published less often than alarmists.
A detailed analysis of these two studies appears in this essay: “The Myth of the 98%.”
More broadly, the claim that there is a “scientific consensus” that global warming is both man-made and a serious problem is untrue. Sources used to document this claim invariably fail to do so, while more reliable surveys and examinations of the literature reveal that most scientists do not believe in the key scientific claims upon which global warming alarmism rests. For example, most scientists do not believe computer models are sufficiently reliable to make long-term forecasts of climate temperatures.
That goes to the very heart of the alarmists’ predictions and worries. For a detailed analysis of the claim of a “scientific consensus” on global warming, see this essay: “You Call This Consensus?”
Then the page back tracks, sort of. Are they saying that the majority of Americans are tyrants and killers?
Of course not. But we are saying that the ethics of many advocates of global warming are very suspect. Consider two recent scandals that exposed the way they think:
Climategate was the leak of emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England in 2010 and 2011. The emails revealed a conspiracy to suppress debate, rig the peer review process to keep out of the leading academic journals any scientists skeptical of catastrophic man-caused global warming, hiding data, fudging research findings, and dodging Freedom of Information Act requests.
Fakegate was the theft in early 2012 of confidential corporate documents from The Heartland Institute by Dr. Peter Gleick, a leading climate scientist and president of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California. Gleick admitted on February 20 to using a false identity to steal the documents and then disseminating them – along with a fake memo purporting to be Heartland’s “climate strategy” – to sympathetic bloggers and journalists.
Megan McArdle wrote this about Fakegate in The Atlantic: “Gleick has done enormous damage to his cause and his own reputation, and it’s no good to say that people shouldn’t be focusing on it. If his judgement is this bad, how is his judgement on matters of science? For that matter, what about the judgement of all the others in the movement who apparently see nothing worth dwelling on in his actions?”
Robert Tracinski wrote this at Real Clear Politics: “The global warming alarmists are losing the argument, and the latest scandal–James Delingpole calls it Fakegate–shows just how desperate they have become.”
Poor judgement … believing the ends justify the means … desperation. Now do you see why we really shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Charles Manson, Fidel Castro, Ted Kaczynski, and other famous criminals believe in global warming?
Before I dive into debunking virtually everything the Heartland Institute says, I’ll give you a little background into who they are. For lack of a better term, they are in the business of being anti-science for business. They made their name in the 90s by trying to claim that second-hand smoke was safe. Their funding comes from tobacco companies, technology companies, pharmaceutical companies, Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, General Motors and others. Their board of directors is heavy with big oil. All of these industries financially benefit from making people believe that climate change is a myth, which as the majority of people and the vast consensus of climate scientists know, it is not. So, the Heartland Institute spends a lot of money to spin climate change as a myth. The bulk of Heartland’s funding comes from a single anonymous donor, possibly Chicago businessman and associate of the Koch brothers, Barre Seid.
The two main arguments that the Heartland Institute uses against climate change are “Fakegate” and “Climategate.” The most famous of the two “scandals” is climate gate. In 2009, some emails between British climate change researchers were leaked. Skeptics took these emails as evidence of data manipulation. It turns out that although the emails were kind of dickish, there’s no evidence of falsification or manipulation.
The second scandal, Fakegate, turned the tables, but it didn’t generate as many headlines as Climategate, so I’ll go into a bit more detail. On February 14th of this year, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick leaked memos to the press that he claimed belonged to the Heartland Institute. The Heartland Institute denies that the memos are real. Peter Gleick has stepped down from his post, at least temporarily, but the reason given by the Pacific Institute was his means of obtaining the memos, which he admits was deceptive, not the accuracy of the memos.
From Time Magazine:
For advocates of climate action, the Heartland documents offered a rare glimpse into the world of the conservative power players who work to cast doubt on climate science and delay action on global warming — the same people authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway called the “Merchants of Doubt” in their 2010 book by the same name. For its part, the Heartland Institute claimed that the documents hadn’t been leaked from inside the group but had instead been obtained by an outsider who had posed as a board member. The organization also said that at least one of the six documents — a short memo claiming to be a summary of Heartland’s work on global warming — was a fake, and threatened legal action against the bloggers posting the documents.
“It doesn’t matter what you believe about climate change, or if you’re a liberal or a conservative,” Heartland president Joseph Bast wrote in an e-mailed press statement on Feb. 20. “You ought to understand and denounce this unethical behavior.”
As it turns out, Bast may have a point. On the evening of Feb. 20, Gleick revealed that he had sent the alleged Heartland memos to the climate reporters and analysts, and that he had used deception in order to obtain some of them. Writing in the Huffington Post, Gleick said that at the beginning of 2012 he had received an anonymous document in the ordinary mail that appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute’s climate-program strategy. He said he did not know the source of the document, so he tried to confirm the accuracy of the information. In an effort to do so, Gleick said he “solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone’s name.” He said those new documents confirmed the information in the original memo, and that he made no changes to any of the documents before sending them out anonymously. “My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts — often anonymous, well-funded, and coordinated — to attack climate science and scientists and prevent this debate,” Gleick wrote. “Nevertheless, I deeply regret my own actions in this case.”
Was Gleick unethical? Yes, but when much of the right studied at the “Andrew Breitbart school of journalism,” it can be argued that fire needs to be fought with fire. Is this case reason to discredit climate science? No.
Brendan Demelle of DeSmogBlog obtained strategy and other types of documents from Heartland. He lists them here. In January of this year, a memo allegedly said this,
“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.”
The memos reference strategy, including efforts to brainwash children. They also mention the works of Dr. 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)
DeSmogBlog runs this disclaimer:
**The Heartland Institute alleges that the 2012 climate strategy document is a “fake” and has threatened the DeSmogBlog with legal action. However, the organization has not provided any proof to support its allegations. We see no basis in fact or law for us to remove this document, and will leave it available in the public interest.
What about the scientists that are themselves climate change deniers? First off, the word, “scientist” is a very broad term. Climate change deniers like to quote meteorologists as their scientists of choice. Overall, meteorologists are skeptical of climate change, with a 2010 report showing that only 24% of them believed that humans were responsible. They also list astrophysicists and more importantly, Heartland paid scientists, often quite a bit, to deny climate change.
The other reason that they like meteorologists is that they have audiences. The average person would probably be hard pressed to name a climatologist, but everyone knows the names of their local weather forecasters.
The problem, of course, is that meteorologists are not climatologists. Climatologists typically have PhDs. Meteorologists often train on the job. Even the most educated meteorologists are trained to predict the weather, not the core of the earth and the temperature of the oceans. A good analogy might be to compare anthropologists to physicians. Physicians work with patients to diagnose specific conditions. Anthropologists study human history and sometimes make evolutionary predictions. Physicians, like meteorologists, work with a snapshot in time, the present, with data and knowledge from the past. Anthropologists, like climatologists, study time. Of course, this sort of denial of geological history could explain that many of the same people who are skeptical of climate change are also skeptical of evolution.
In 2008, an invitation to participate in a climate change survey was sent to 10,257 earth scientists, which they list as, “all geosciences faculty at reporting academic institutions, along with researchers at state geologic surveys associated with local universities, and researchers at U.S. federal research facilities (e.g., U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, and NOAA (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) facilities; U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories; and so forth).”
The survey was intentionally short, just two questions, in order to prompt more people to respond. The two questions were: 1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen or remained relatively constant? and 2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?
These questions are quick and to the point, but you can’t deny that they are the two questions that are discussed when discussing global climate change. Well, you can’t deny that those are the two questions unless you belong to the Heartland Institute. Oddly, Heartland concedes that even skeptics would agree with those two questions (even number two?). Their complaint is,
Even worse than the sample size, though, is the complete irrelevance of the questions asked in the survey to the real debate taking place about climate change. Most skeptics would answer those two questions the same way as alarmists would.
At issue is not whether the climate warmed since the Little Ice Age or whether there is a human impact on climate, but whether the warming is unusual in rate or magnitude; whether that part of it attributable to human causes is likely to be beneficial or harmful on net, and by how much; and whether the benefits of reducing the human contribution will outweigh the costs, so as to justify public policies aimed at reducing it. The survey is silent on these questions.
So we should now be debating whether or not the fact that humans are changing the earth’s climate is a good thing? It seems to me, climate deniers, you have now lost the debate if that’s the best you’ve got. Secondly how would an earth scientist be able to run cost/benefit analyses? That is yet another scientific discipline.
But let’s get back to the methodology that Heartland is screaming about. The survey received a response rate of about 30% (3,146 scientists), which is pretty normal for that sort of survey. Heartland claims that only 5% of the respondents self-identified as climate scientists. That’s true, but it ignores the other relevant disciplines that were questioned.
With survey participants asked to select a single category, the most common areas of expertise reported were geochemistry (15.5%), geophysics (12%), and oceanography (10.5%). General geology, hydrology/hydrogeology, and paleontology each accounted for 5–7% of the total respondents. Approximately 5% of the respondents were climate scientists, and 8.5% of the respondents indicated that more than 50% of their peer-reviewed publications in the past 5 years have been on the subject of climate change. While respondents’ names are kept private, the authors noted that the survey included participants with well-documented dissenting opinions on global warming theory.
Every one of these disciplines studies changes to the earth and to its oceans. The result of the study was that 90% of participants answered “yes” to question one and 82% answered “yes” to question two. Of the roughly 79 that specifically called themselves climate scientists, the answer was even more conclusive, 96% said “yes” to question one and 97% answered “yes” to question two.
The controversial billboard is now down. It might take a while to learn exactly why they took it down, but the fact remains, by comparing people like these scientists and the majority of the American people to notorious “bad guys” does nothing to help their cause.