A Bright Spotlight on Heartland Donors
February 16, 2012
What may come out of the DenierGate Leak does not rest on whether or not the single disputed document is real or not. We already know, because Heartland has confirmed, that the most important and telling information IS real – the names of (most of) the donors, especially large corporate donors.
The New York Times has shown a bright spotlight on this in its coverage of the issue – and what jumps out at you is the general embarrassment and discomfort exhibited by normally sane, well educated, and scientifically literate corporate citizens to be caught in the same company with bigoted, anti-science, tobacco-trough troglodytes like the Heartland crew.
“We absolutely do not endorse or support their views on the environment or climate change,” said Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, a multinational drug company shown in the documents as contributing $50,000 in the past two years to support a medical newsletter.
A spokesman for Microsoft, another listed donor, said that the company believes that “climate change is a serious issue that demands immediate worldwide action.” The company is shown in the documents as having contributed $59,908 last year to a Heartland technology newsletter. But the Microsoft spokesman, Mark Murray, said the gift was not a cash contribution but rather the value of free software, which Microsoft gives to thousands of nonprofit groups.
The reactions read as if showing up on Heartland’s ledger is a little like being caught in a raid at a dogfight, or insisting you only joined the Ku Klux Klan to make new friends.
One key funding factor that emerges is the long-time reliable support from tobacco interests. While noting that oil companies were not overtly represented on Heartland’s list of donors, investigators who follow the money trails in these matters point out that fossil fuel companies are quite sophisticated in the way they spread their money to key climate denial organizations and individuals. The Times did note:
But oil interests were nonetheless represented. The documents say that the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation contributed $25,000 last year and was expected to contribute $200,000 this year. Mr. Koch is one of two brothers who have been prominent supporters of libertarian causes as well as other charitable endeavors. They control Koch Industries, one of the country’s largest private companies and a major oil refiner.
and this fun fact –
The documents suggest that Heartland has spent several million dollars in the past five years in its efforts to undermine climate science, much of that coming from a person referred to repeatedly in the documents as “the Anonymous Donor.” A guessing game erupted Wednesday about who that might be.
Maybe the most welcome passages in the article was toward the end.
Heartland’s latest idea, the documents say, is a plan to create a curriculum for public schools intended to cast doubt on mainstream climate science and budgeted at $200,000 this year. The curriculum would claim, for instance, that “whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy.”
It is in fact not a scientific controversy. The vast majority of climate scientists say that emissions generated by humans are changing the climate and putting the planet at long-term risk, although they are uncertain about the exact magnitude of that risk. Whether and how to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases has become a major political controversy in the United States, however.
Actual acknowledgement of reality by the mainstream media is so unusual as to be jarring – but refreshing nonetheless.
In the wake of this scandal, Americans will be learning more about the history and finances of groups like Heartland – who they are, and why they do what they do – the Fake Science , Funny Finances and dark history of the anti-science movement