Shawn Lawrence Otto: Climate Denial Bombshell
A major event in the U.S. political battle over climate change happened this week with the unauthorized release of secret internal documents that reveal the finances and truly Machiavellian strategy of the Heartland Institute, a leading oil-industry-funded disinformation machine designed to spread propaganda and cast doubt on the settled science of anthropogenic global warming.
Tuesday morning, an anonymous person set up a Gmail account and used it to send incriminating internal strategy and budget documents to the email inboxes of bloggers who write about science denialism and climate change, then immediately cancelled the gmail account. The documents appear to be genuine and have been checked against other sources, which confirm their authenticity. If true, they show a pattern of breathtaking mendacity.
Take, for instance, the Heartland Institute’s strategy of promoting climate science disinformation and propaganda in America’s K-12 science classes, among the children who will be most impacted by it. The group is “pursuing a proposal from Dr. David Wojick to produce a global warming curriculum for K-12 schools.” According to the Heartland Institute, 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. Fair enough, except when you read on.
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.
There, in black and white in the group’s strategy document, is the truly nefarious, unAmerican, bald-faced goal: to dissuade American science teachers from teaching science. The group plans to pay Wojick $100,000 do develop a 20-module curriculum of obfuscation.
In an American science education crisis, where American students are ranking far down in international science rankings, this strategy should be inviting calls from congress for an investigation. Who is this Heartland Institute, who are their funders, what schools are adopting this curricula, and who is the mysterious “Anonymous donor” who is funding much of the miseducation of America’s students? What other misinformation for political ends is being pushed into American science classrooms?
But the disinformation being played on the American people doesn’t stop there. Heartland brags about how it has worked
to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports and paid a team of writers $388,000 in 2011 to work on a series of editions of Climate Change Reconsidered.
This statement alone is enough to cast withering scientific doubt on anything and everything the Heartland Institute has ever produced. At the time, the Heartland Institute said of its Reconsidered report, “This isn’t ‘denial,’ it’s just common sense.”
Any organization whose stated goal is not the discovery or communication of knowledge, but the political goal to “undermine” official reports is by definition not doing anything remotely like either science or common sense, but is instead using the language of science to work toward a predetermined ideological objective.
In other words, rhetoric. Any reporter who now quotes or sources from a Heartland Institute report should realize that they are, by the Heartland Institute’s own admission, printing ideologically-driven propaganda, not measurement-driven knowledge.
If you thought that was bad enough, consider the Heartland Institute’s true objective, as evidenced by their “increased climate project fundraising” goals.
Other contributions will be pursued for this work, especially from corporations whose interests are threatened by climate policies.
And this is where it is laid bare. In my book Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, I show why science is never partisan, but science is always political. That is because whenever it creates new knowledge, that knowledge either confirms or challenges somebody’s vested interests — and those vested interests fight back.
In 1633, the seat of world political and economic power was the Vatican, and the Roman Catholic Church went to absurd lengths to indict the scientist Galileo and cast doubt on his simple observations:
1. The proposition that the sun is in the center of the world and
immovable from its place is absurd, philosophically false, and
formally heretical; because it is expressly contrary to Holy Scriptures.
2. The proposition that the earth is not the center of the world, nor
immovable, but that it moves, and also with a diurnal action, is also
absurd, philosophically false, and, theologically considered, at least
erroneous in faith.
Today, the seat of world political and economic power is the U.S. energy industry. Koch Industries, for example, is the second largest private held company in America, and a major donor to the Heartland Institute. With a market cap of $407 billion, Exxon-Mobil is the world’s most valuable company, period.
It’s no wonder energy companies find the simple, repeatable measurements of climate scientists threatening. But now we see just how nefarious are the lengths of disinformation to which some of them will go.
Anyone who is on the fence about whether climate change is really happening should consider the breathtaking, unAmerican manipulation of their minds and the minds of their children that makes up the core strategy of one of America’s leading voices putting out supposedly “scientific” reports that question climate change.
The Heartland Institute has shown it has no credibility — but worse, it has no heart.
Get Shawn Lawrence Otto’s new book: Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, Starred Kirkus Review; Starred Publishers Weekly review. Visit him at http://www.shawnotto.com. Like him on Facebook. Join ScienceDebate.org to get the presidential candidates to debate science.
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