Friday, February 17, 2012

Heartland Institute and skepticism: is that a scandal?

Some people have obtained several documents from the Heartland Institute, a libertarian/conservative U.S. think tank. These documents show that the folks in the Heartland Institute are climate skeptics who are working to help other climate skeptics, especially among the scientists.

Many alarmist websites claim that it is a scandal. See hundreds of articles available via Google News.

I find it amusing. The Heartland Institute has organized several conferences of climate skeptics and everyone who observes the debate at least at a superficial level must know that the folks in the think tank are skeptics and they have some – modest – amount of money to be used.

The only detailed information that went beyond my – and public – knowledge was the insight that a single generous and wealthy anonymous donor contributed $8.6 million to the Heartland's climate causes (well, at least I guess that the person had to be a bit wealth to give a gift of this magnitude). If she or he happens to be reading these lines, she or he may notice that a piglet to donate via PayPal is at the bottom, so if she or he didn't care that pure science will be strengthened by those $100 or so, wherever it leads, it could turn out to be a more focused investment than those $8.6 million to the Heartland!

Several skeptical weblogs discuss the amusing "skeptics' climategate" here:
Dr Roy Spencer, Australian Climate Madness, Climate Resistance
Some of them discuss the amusing transformation of Andy Revkin who used to deplore the evil criminals who have hacked the University of East Anglia e-mails – but now celebrates those who have obtained some internal Heartland documents. Do you think that you're being ethical or consistent, Andy?

Of course, the Heartland folks may be "homo politicus" who are more likely to reach certain conclusions about this politically polarizing issue. But the number of such politically motivated people is much higher on the alarmism side of the aisle. It's kind of amusing to ask the question: Who is the "true counterpart" of the Heartland Institute on the alarmist side? Is it Gore's Coalition or the World Wildlife Fund? Well, I think that a much more accurate counterpart of the Heartland Institute on the "other side of the political spectrum" is the IPCC.

I have never received a penny from the Heartland Institute but I think that they're doing an important work. Are the skeptics drowning in the money? It's a pretty preposterous suggestion. In my opinion, the skeptics are not only those who are more knowledgeable and more intelligent about the science. They're also protecting the mankind from the wasting of trillions of dollars.

Even if you gave them 0.1% of the amount they contribute or save, the "flagship skeptics" would still deserve billions of dollars for their service to the humanity. So if you find the Heartland Institute paying a particular prominent skeptic (and highly achieved veteran scientist) $5,000 for one month of some hard work (most of the most influential skeptics don't get anything at all, however), you still have to find the missing $999,995,000 in gifts. Where are they? This problem is almost as serious as the "missing heat" – the supernatural term in the laws of physics that is responsible for the legendary global warming's invisibility in the last 10-15 years.

One must *always* check whether some scientists' results aren't distorted by the inflow of money: this is true on both sides of this debate and all sides of all debates. And an honest scientist must always protect his or her integrity against the financial pressures that could be coming from any side. Still, one may compare the cold numbers. The alarmists have received $50 billion in the last two decades; skeptics have gotten $20 million or so (and indeed, the Heartland Institute is among those who have paid for some air tickets and maybe a bit beyond that). It's more than three orders of magnitude a difference. So I don't think that it's really possible to produce a case that "skeptics are the more corrupt side".

Needless to say, those activists would love to ban anyone from paying a penny for anything to the folks who are climate skeptics. In this sense, the climate activists are identical to the Nazis and their attitude to the Jews. I am using this comparison because it's true and important so let me say in advance, give me a break with suggestions that I shouldn't be making such comparisons.

We've already seen alarmists who were dreaming and planning the death of skeptics – in very many contexts. The only reason why they haven't realized those things in practice is that they couldn't have gotten the required power. And they haven't gotten the power because the public realizes that they're unhinged radicals – in this sense, the Nazis looked more moderate than the climate alarmists which was a reason why they could get to the power around 1933.

And that's the memo.


  1. Lubos:
    I agree completely with your sentiments. But, in case you missed it, Heartland asserts that a key document is not theirs and has all the appearances of being faked. It is the one that claims that HI is going to somehow force an anti-climate science curriculum on US schools.
    Needless to say there is likely to be some very red faces among the tame journalists who trotted out this story without fact checking.

  2. Heartland has confirmed that the inflammatory memo is fake and the rest is real.