US climate science scandal grows

2012-02-23 08:16

Washington - A fresh scandal over climate change has erupted in the US after leaked documents appeared to show a right-wing funded campaign to influence how climate science is taught in schools.

The internal budget and strategy documents from a Chicago-based non-profit group called the Heartland Institute were made public last week, and showed $200 000 was to be spent on a "global warming curriculum project".

The project would teach that "whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy" and that climate models' "reliability is controversial", according to some of the leaked documents.

Others showed hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from fossil fuel industries and interests, an anonymous donor's pledge of $1.25m, and $300 000 to be paid to a team of scientists to rebut UN findings on climate change.

The Heartland Institute has said that one of the leaked strategy memos, a two-page document, was fabricated, but has not commented on the others and did not respond requests for an interview.


The scandal appeared to take on larger dimensions on Wednesday when a lawmaker called for a hearing into whether one of the scientists named in the documents, a government employee, had improperly accepted payments from Heartland to spread the anti-climate-change message.

Indur Goklany, assistant director of programmes, science and technology policy at the Department of the Interior, was named as being allocated $1 000 per month to write a chapter on economics and policy for the Heartland Institute.

The chapter was to appear in a book produced by the group's "Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), an international group of scientists that produces critiques of the reports of the United Nations' IPCC".

A Democratic congressman from Arizona, Raul Grijalva, requested a full hearing of the Natural Resources Committee, noting that it is unclear whether Goklany received payments - which is illegal for federal employees - or if other government scientists were involved.

"Our Committee has a unique responsibility to find those answers," Grijalva wrote. His appeal is awaiting a decision by senior lawmakers.

Another government contractor, David Wojick at the Department of Energy, has drawn scrutiny for his alleged links to the group after documents showed he would be paid $25 000 quarterly for his work in drafting the school curriculum.

Wojick is listed as a "senior consultant for innovation" at the DOE's Office of Science and Technological Information.


Greenpeace USA sent a series of letters to the government urging an official inquiry into whether the documents reveal illegal payments to government scientists and a conflict of interest.

The documents show Heartland, which was founded in 1984, has "a co-ordinated multimillion dollar, multi-year campaign to sow confusion about climate change and climate change science", said Greenpeace USA research director Kert Davies.

Another wrinkle emerged in the story on Monday when a prominent climate scientist admitted he had posed as a Heartland board member to fraudulently obtain copies of the confidential internal documents and distribute them to colleagues and the media.

Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, said his involvement began early this year when he "received an anonymous document in the mail describing what appeared to be details of the Heartland Institute's climate programme strategy".

Gleick said he then "solicited and received additional materials directly from the Heartland Institute under someone else's name", which "confirmed many of the facts in the original document".

Gleick apologised, adding: "My judgment was blinded by my frustration with the ongoing efforts - often anonymous, well-funded, and co-ordinated - to attack climate science and scientists."

The blogosphere has been jammed with commentaries on his actions, alternately blasting Gleick for poor ethics or hailing him as a hero.

Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast said the group was seeking legal counsel, accused Gleick of a "crime" and added: "A mere apology is not enough to undo the damage."

Greenpeace's Davies said the revelation "has sort of made everything uglier", but should pass.

"Yesterday... it was, 'Oh my goodness, a scientist stole some documents,' but you know, we will get over that because the truth is - what really happened was that he verified that the documents were real and they were from Heartland."

  • ludlowdj - 2012-02-23 09:15

    Yea and the truth is that man has not control over climate change. We can slow it down but not stop it. climate change has been around as long as the earth has and will be around long after mankind is gone, it is a naturally occurring cycle fueled by everything from forest fires to kangaroo farts. Misinformation is being used to generate billions in profits based on the concept that we are in control and can change climate change when we can't.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 10:02

      I do not disagree with you. However, we should be doing all we can to not accelerate the process and we have no right to simply trash the planet.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 10:42

      @Adam Adam is of course a climate scientist.

      ProfAndyZulu - 2012-02-24 09:18

      That is simply not true. Human activity is the only explanation for changes that are NOT cyclical, which also pertain. Do you honestly think that having 6 million vehicles and hundreds of thousands of factories pumping out both heat and CO2 is not going to have an effect on the environment? Yes, people are attempting to profit from climate change but to deny that it is man-made goes against well established evidence.

  • swavka - 2012-02-23 09:27

    It's just another way to suck the people dry.

  • Godfrey - 2012-02-23 10:11

    Good news. Investigate and expose them. It has always been clear to me that the climate change denialists are well funded by smokestack industries, the oil barons and religious nutters. The industrial vested interests I understand but why the believers in American Jesus feel the need to claim no influence on climate by human overpopulation and activity defeats me. But they deny reality anyway.

  • john.ncala - 2012-02-23 10:24

    agree with you Adam 100%

  • vivienne.midlane - 2012-02-23 10:26

    A well paid scientist who was also the chair of an ethics committee got caught lying and stealing and creating fraudulent documents. All because the scientific AGW argument is flawed, broken and worthless. Yes pollution is a problem, but CO2 is NOT pollution, is NOT the climate thermostat, and at 300ppm is hardly as dangerous as they teach the children. But we can see here who is begging for someone to tell them how to live their lives, the UN and IPCC would be happy to.

      Ernst - 2012-02-23 10:48

      @vivienne: "A well paid scientist who was also the chair of an ethics committee got caught lying and stealing and creating fraudulent documents. All because the scientific AGW argument is flawed, broken and worthless." This is a sweeping statement. As far as the scientific consensus on manmade global warming is concerned, maybe you should read: May I suggest you read the following as I think you are misinformed: "...and at 300ppm is hardly as dangerous as they teach the children." The point is that 330ppm may not be directly harmful to individuals, but it is dangerous in terms of the ecosystems that support life on this planet. If your life support system dies, you die.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 10:55

      Another sky daddy believer who chooses to deny the evidence for climate change. If whatever leaked documents you may be referring to disproved man-made climate change you may have a point. So can we have citations please? Being religious and believing in an imaginary sky fairy means that you can be led to believe anything.

      Godfrey - 2012-02-23 12:45

      Hello Adam Ad hominem - fail! Obviously that was your best shot to defend your god (he cannot defend himself) and prove he exists. All you have done is prove your own uncertainty.

  • Lenzie - 2012-02-23 11:06

    This is like listening to Islamic extremists saying: "look the burning of the Koran proves that 911 was right". How is it that the victim here his the one on trial? These documents were not leaked, they were stolen and then released with a forged document with the intention of trying to destroy the reputation of an organisation which was guilty of no crime or even impropriety except making people aware of the evidence that did not agree with those who hate it so. This is like blaming the woman "who deserved to be raped" because she dressed provocatively. Well perhaps the Heartland should have worn a Burkha and not proved the taliban eco-nuts to attack it????

  • Paul - 2012-02-23 11:56

    Climate change was a lab coat consultant's wet dream! Meanwhile, the entire WORLD of SCIENCE and the UN had allowed carbon trading to trump 3rd world fresh water relief, starvation rescue and 3rd world education for just over 26 years of INSANE attempts at climate CONTROL. Science poisoned the planet originally with their pesticides that they denied for decades as being dangerous, so science made environmentalism necessary in the first place. It’s not a crime to say climate change is real when it can't be proven either way. It was a consultant's wet dream and I promise history will call its followers end of the world freaks, and superstitious omen worshippers. “I see the signs. I see change….”

      Victor - 2012-02-23 13:05

      Having a converstation with yourself there, Adam?

      Victor - 2012-02-23 13:25

      Adam Are you 10 years old? Shame, I see you have to thumbs up your own posts as nobody else does

      Anakin - 2012-02-23 13:55

      @ Adam : You made yet another spelling mistake in one sentence alone: Your sentence should have read : "...with THEIR lies". I don't think you have even a basic education, never mind a higher education. And your comments are atrocious.

  • Clive.D.Buckley - 2012-02-23 13:28

    For goodness sake, Adam is an obvious troll. and you people just keep right on feeding him!

  • jcistheman - 2012-02-23 15:46

    Hi News24, you might want to research your stories a little further. This one has moved on a fair bit since the information reported here. Type 'Fakegate' in your search engine for the latest news.....

  • Mathys - 2012-02-23 19:38

    You atheists keep harping on about your great intelligence. STOP FEEDING THE TROLL, MORONS!!!! Adam is clearly only riling you for his entertainment.

  • Tom - 2012-02-24 00:11

    Has federal employee and NASA scientist James Hansen ever received payment for his climate work outside of his government job? Or is the OK since he is on the side of the angels?

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