2012-02-15 17:11:01An idea about the Heartland-Gate
Chris Colose


Concerning the Heartland leak incident, I think it's obvious this will be a "big topic" for a while, and I imagine SkS will want some leading contribution in the effort to discuss it as facts unfold.  I wanted to propose writing a short post that will bring some balance to whatever hell is in store for the blogosphere, but also give people on "our side" some perspective, so people do not carried away. Some examples,

1) How the nature of "funding" works in science- example; it is not necessarily bad that someone like Bob Carter or Idso are getting "funding" from Heartland, but that the nature of this funding is completely different than, say, an NSF grant. - This typically involves a project proposal that describes in detail what you specifically plan to study (something very specific, like “I want to drill a particular sediment core off the coast of South America and we’re looking to analyze changes in this climate variable over this particular timeframe, etc…..it is not “we want to study natural causes of global warming”); it requires a planned allocation of funds to resources required to complete the project (data acquisition, travel, equipment, graduate student funding for their education, etc). It needs to be approved as a worthwhile endeavor for advancing science.  This is all entirely seperate from the plans of Heartland, not to even do a scientific study or research, but to act in opposition to 'warmists.'  Already, I've seen a number of people at WUWT or Curry trying to rationalize this by finger-pointing to Mann (predictable and irrelevant).

2) None of this strengthens the argument for AGW or weakens skeptical arguments (on its own), or invalidates what all skeptics say.  It does have implications for the internal structure of the Heartland Institute and their motives.

2012-02-15 17:47:34
Rob Painting

I think it would be very useful because the woman or man-in-the-street will know little of how science is funded. 

2012-02-15 18:36:11
Brian Purdue


Chris, I have severe objection to Carter getting money when he uses it to help out developers with bogus information about sea level rise – and that’s only one small example of what this guy is doing.  

2012-02-15 18:50:07
Glenn Tamblyn


I think DenialGate is the term to go with. Within the denialist community they will scream but who gives a rats arse. This is about trying to create a media circus around the idea that denialists are sucking off the tit.

Opinions for hire is the key message. And the pay scale is pretty damn good. The Grandfather of climate denial, Singer, is getting a cool 60K from just one 'don't think tank'. Idea to seed out there. How many other Heartlands are their. Saddle up, everyone onto the gravy train.

What might be interesting is a list of all the major don't think tanks, so the reader can make the leap - if one of them is dishing out this much, what about all these others. Mud Sticks. Lets add some Super-Glue to the mix.

2012-02-15 18:51:49
Chris Colose


Brian- Of course...

2012-02-15 19:00:13
Glenn Tamblyn


Brian. Australia has two high profile Denialists and some second stringers. Plimer is a narcisistic buffoon. But Carter is a serious player - smooth & urbane, not prone to the sulks if people don't recognise that he is automatically right. And a real networking operator.

Taking Carter down would be a significant coup. Cross you fingers. And the really hard part. Keep it clinical if we go after him. He is the quintessential 'butter wouldn't melt in his mouth' guy.

Remember, Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold.

Have faith that truth will out. Because we have an incredibly powerful ally. The Laws of Physics. It doesn't get much better than that.

Local tactic here in Oz. Carter 'briefed' the opposition party room. He went out on the hustings with Sen Barnaby Joyce. He had his hand up Sen Steve Fielding's bback. Maybe the Heartland Institute got value for their money. Would Barnaby or Tony Abbot care to comment?

2012-02-15 19:34:26
Mark Richardson

We have to read the reports very carefully rather than get dragged away with overexcitement. Accurate reporting is important, we should do as we wish the climategate scientists had bee done by.

(not a criticism of anything so far, Chris your post is reasoned and a good way to go IMO), we just have to be careful.

Unfortunately I'm incredibly busy today, would love to have a chance to read through some of their stuff!

2012-02-16 03:42:27
Dana Nuccitelli

Chris - I agree this would be a worthwhile post.  Comparing the difficulty of getting a scientific grant to the ease of getting Heartland money (just be a denier) would be useful as well.

2012-02-16 14:21:05


The other thing about grant money versus denier slush cash is that the great majority of grants have no allocation for personal remuneration, ie say you win a $2m grant over four years to do an expedition to South America to get a whole lot of climate data using expensive kit, many months field time and some costly lab analyses, your own salary won't get any bigger!  Usually you apply for researcher time, on the grant but your salary (often paid by a university) does not change.  No opportunity to buy extra houses and cars using the proceeds from grants...

I wonder just how much receipting Bob Carter does for his $1600 a month?

2012-02-16 23:06:50


Before comparing scientific funding with denier funding, please read this:


It seems that big oil is, on the one hand funding real science and on the other hand funding bogus "science".

They do like to hedge their bets, don't they?  Or maybe not: the common factor is the funding of whatever points in big oil's preferred direction.

Meanwhile, there is far too little funding of R&D in green energy and renewables.

2012-02-16 23:12:59


There's no contradiction:

- Fund new research: Control and own the direction of new technology.

- Fund denialism: Protect the value of your current investments.

They're not stupid enough to eat their own dog food.

2012-02-17 12:06:19
Andy S


As an employee for medium-sized oil in the 1990's, I found funds and contributed my time to a research project at the University of Calgary and Queen's University, along with some other companies. To my surprise, the project is still running. The project was entirely legitimate, with the companies providing money for research and grad students, plus data and research ideas (my own suggestions led to two post-graduate theses). The only stipulation for the researchers was that they report their results to the sponsors, for information only, before publication. I think that the University profs felt that there were fewer constraints working on our projects than working with government grants. The whole thing was transparent and public. The main benefit that the companies got was a supply of post graduates to hire and a chance for their employees, like me, to colloborate with academics on projects with little direct commercial value.

Not everything that oil companies fund is nefarious.

It's a small minority of oil companies that directly engage in funding climate denial, thank goodness. Even Exxon, by far the worst offender among the big western companies, has backed off in the past few years, although their funding of think tanks lobby groups that are pro-business and anti-AGW continues.

This Heartland-funded projects aren't research by any stretch, they're stealthy funding of fringe scientists to produce biased polemics for lobbying purposes.

I hope that the outcome of this is a revocation of Heartland's tax status. John Mashey's on this track and I wouldn't be surprised for his work to prompt the IRS to do some audits. When I spoke to Mashey at the AGU, he was optimistic that he would be able to bring down some big names for tax evasion. This is a kind of Al Capone strategy; even if we can't convict them for their climate lies, we'll get them for lying about their income.