How is Joe Bast Like Joe Camel? Looks Like We’re Going to Find Out…..
February 15, 2012
How is Joe Bast like Joe Camel?
Well, let’s see – they both promote the sale of addictive poisons to children, they both are funded by the tobacco industry, and they both are leading proponents of the anti-science movement that threatens to cripple our education system and our economy.
Joe Bast is the President and CEO of the Heartland Institute, a right wing “think” tank in Chicago that has been the prime mover behind major disinformation initiatives on both global climate and tobacco dangers.
Mr. Bast is well known for insisting that the science of climate change is “science is very sketchy, very uncertain..”, as well as famously asserting that “No victim of cancer, heart disease, etc. can “prove” his or her cancer or heart disease was caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.”
We’re going to be finding out a lot more about the Heartland Institute and their operations in coming weeks and months, thanks to an anonymous whistleblower who, on Valentine’s Day, opened a gmail account, sent a bundle of damning internal documents to key climate bloggers and researchers around the country, then closed the account and disappeared.
Now, in a statement, Heartland is admitting that the budget and donor documents are genuine, but claiming that an alleged “Policy” paper is a forgery.
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.
The information is flying faster than any one person can keep up.
As stated above, Heartland has now released a statement claiming that one of the alleged internal documents is a fake. It’s worth noting that several credible sources have pronounced the material genuine. I will keep updating the situation as best I can.
Racing around the internet are some internal documents that appear to be from the Heartland Institute, a relatively obscure hard-core anti-science think tank. As DeSmogBlog explains, “An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self ‘Heartland Insider’ has released the Heartland Institute’s budget, fundraising plan… and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.”
Personally, I was skeptical of these docs, at least until I read the 2012 Fundraising Plan, which attacks the temperature station data of the “the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).” That kind of error is classic Heartland.
And here’s another apparent blunder: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation returned as a Heartland donor in 2011. We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with.”
Those Heartland folks are such satirists. Philanthropy “etymologically means the love of humanity,” whereas funding climate denial and inaction, as the Kochs do, is perhaps the cruelest thing you could possibly do to humanity.
My colleague Brad Johnson has just blogged on Heartland’s “Secret, Corporate-Funded Plan To Teach Children That Climate Change Is A Hoax,” which I’ll excerpt at the end. It’s funny in the way that The Shining was funny.
These documents just make no sense, kind of like climate science denial itself. Perhaps this is a spoof put out by The Onion.
An alleged document that is being examined, and which Heartland now states is a fake – describes a plan to pay a consultant 100,000 dollars to prepare a program designed for “dissuading teachers from teaching science”.
Earlier today, ThinkProgress reported that a Heartland insider had confirmed the document and explained its rationale:
James M. Taylor, a senior fellow at the Heartland Institute, told ThinkProgress Green in an e-mail why the group is developing its denier curriculum:
We are concerned that schools are teaching climate change issues in a manner that is not consistent with sound science and that is designed to lead students to the erroneous belief that humans are causing a global warming crisis. We hope that our efforts will restore sound science to climate change education and discourage the political propaganda that too often passes as “education”.
In Heartland’s statement, it is acknowledged that that budget and donor information are genuine, and apologizes for the security breach.
Apologies: The Heartland Institute apologizes to the donors whose identities were revealed by this theft. We promise anonymity to many of our donors, and we realize that the major reason these documents were stolen and faked was to make it more difficult for donors to support our work. We also apologize to Heartland staff, directors, and our allies in the fight to bring sound science to the global warming debate, who have had their privacy violated and their integrity impugned.
Ironically, Heartland’s position seems to be that stealing electronic documents from right wing think tanks are viewed as a serious crime, while stealing emails from climate scientists and University labs are considered behavior to be lauded and encouraged.
How did this happen? The stolen documents were obtained by an unknown person who fraudulently assumed the identity of a Heartland board member and persuaded a staff member here to “re-send” board materials to a new email address. Identity theft and computer fraud are criminal offenses subject to imprisonment. We intend to find this person and see him or her put in prison for these crimes.
UPDATES: More good takes sprouting up all over –
Susan Goldenberg, the Guardian – Leak Exposes Heartland
Chris Mooney – “Dissuading Teachers”
Leo Hickman in the Guardian – Documents Pull Back the Curtain
James Hrynyshyn – Heart(land) of Climate Denial
Think Progress – Heartland Docs
Deep Climate – Heartland Institute Budget and Strategy Revealed
Greg Laden – Anti-Science Institute’s Insider Reveals Secrets
Planet 3.0 – Is turnabout Fair Play?