Wednesday 26th October 2016                 Change text size:

Controversy over climate sceptic think-tank

Controversy over climate sceptic think-tank

Documents thought to be leaked from the Heartland Institute allegedly name some of its most controversial backers. Alex Blackburne looks into it.

The Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based free-market think-tank that has long questioned climate science, has become the subject of a growing scandal after documents containing the names and companies of some of its most wealthy backers were allegedly leaked.

Microsoft, Koch Industries and tobacco giant Altria, are three of the highest profile organisations that have allegedly financially supported the think-tank, according to funding figures obtained by DeSmogBlog.

Much of the emerging outrage is focused on the seemingly contradictory ethics of Heartland’s patrons. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, for example, is a huge advocate of clean energy and climate change research, but if one of the documents is to be believed, the technology giant gifted $59,908 to the Institute.

In response to the revelations, the Heartland Institute issued a statement which said, “Some of [the] documents were stolen from Heartland, at least one is a fake, and some may have been altered”.

The think-tank claim a document titled Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy is a “total fake apparently intended to defame and discredit”.  The document reveals the supposed relationship between Heartland and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.

“They returned as a Heartland donor in 2011 with a contribution of $200,000”, the document says.

“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.”

Despite the forthright denial from Heartland about the validity of the documents, The Guardian is in no way holding back, with profiles of the supposed individual backers and more detail on the corporations accused of support.

The revealing of the documents comes after donor questions were posed to the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a UK-based climate sceptic think-tank. A freedom of information request asking for the organisation to reveal its backers was rejected, which meant it faced an Information Rights Tribunal last month.

Skeptical Science is a great place to start if you want to investigate the myths behind climate change scepticism. Its founder, John Cook, spoke to Blue & Green Tomorrow in December.

Related articles:

The annoying perils of climate change scepticism

Green Dragon: John Cook

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