Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Follow the Real Money

In an attempt to discredit those not on the global warming Armageddon train , documents have been leaked (and apparently forged) from the Heartland Institute, a think-tank that has long championed a skeptical approach to man-made warming. While global warming alarmists no doubt hoped that these documents would provide evidence that the Heartland Institute was being funded with Big Money from Big Oil, in reality they show just how paltry the resources of those who dare question the global warming wisdom actually are. As an editorial in today’s WSJ explained, it turns out to be a Not-So-Vast Conspiracy:

Now comes a rare glimpse inside the allegedly antiscience behemoth, with the online publication last week of documents purloined from the conservative Heartland Institute. The files appear to contain detailed financial, donor and personnel information and outline the think-tank's projects. Chicago-based Heartland says one of the documents is fake and warns that others may have been altered.

Given the coverage the story has generated, you'd think some vast conspiracy had been uncovered. Heartland is, according to the Associated Press, "one of the loudest voices denying human-caused global warming, hosting the largest international scientific conference of skeptics on climate change." The Vancouver Sun reports that it is "heavily funded by right-wing industrialist Charles Koch," while the Virginian-Pilot dubs it "the ideological center of the denial movement."

So how flush is Heartland? The documents show the group is expecting revenues of $7.7 million this year, mostly from private donations and grants. Mr. Koch's "heavy" funding came to $25,000 in 2011, though the Heartland "Fundraising Plan" has it hoping for an increase in 2012. To put those numbers in not-for-profit perspective, last year the Natural Resources Defense Council reported $95.4 million in operating revenues, while the World Wildlife Fund took in $238.5 million.

Press coverage has focused in particular on Heartland's plans to produce and distribute "educational material suitable for K-12 students on global warming that isn't alarmist or overtly political." Heartland is budgeting $200,000 this year for the effort, which in the past has "had only limited success," per one of the documents. Little wonder if teachers aren't returning Heartland's calls: Last year the World Wildlife Fund spent $68.5 million on "public education" alone.

As for "the largest international scientific conference of skeptics," Heartland will, according to the documents, spend all of $388,000 this year on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change. That's against the $6.5 million that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change costs Western taxpayers annually, and the $2.6 billion the White House wants to spend next year on research into "the global changes that have resulted primarily from global over-dependence on fossil fuels."

Considering the billions of dollars of “excessive profits” that the oil companies have been making in recent years, they’ve been downright stingy when it comes to paying off people to deny anthropogenic global warming. Even one of the nefarious Koch bros is only good for 25 grand.

Meanwhile, no evidence of trying to falsify or hide data. This whole global warming denial thing really is about the worst conspiracy ever.