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Monday, February 20, 2012

Nature blogs: Leading climate scientists have told the controversial Heartland Institute to take a long hard look at itself

‘Climate-gate’ researchers enter Heartland debate

Leading climate scientists have told the controversial Heartland Institute to take a long hard look at itself, after a damning set of documents purported to be from the think-tank were leaked online.
The free-market Heartland Institute has mounted “a systematic attack on mainstream climate science,” in the word’s of Nature’s Jeff Tollefson, who profiled the organization in a feature last year.
Now several documents – whose veracity is disputed by the institute – surfaced earlier this week on the DeSmogBlog, allegedly showing its budget, fund-raising plan, and strategy outline.
Today, an open letter from seven researchers whose emails featured in the stolen climate-gate documents that were posted online in 2009 and 2011 say that “although we can agree that stealing documents and posting them online is not an acceptable practice, we would be remiss if we did not point out that the Heartland Institute has had no qualms about utilizing and distorting emails stolen from scientists.”
Researchers including Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and Gavin Schmidt of NASA, say that Heartland was one of the groups that attacked scientists based on the stolen emails, which were purloined from the University of East Anglia’s climate research unit.
“We hope the Heartland Institute will begin to play a more constructive role in the policy debate. Refraining from misleading attacks on climate science and climate researchers would be a welcome first step toward having an honest, fact-based debate about the policy responses to climate change,” they say, in a letter published in The Guardian newspaper.
The Heartland Institute says the documents released this week amount to an online mugging, and that one is a fake. Others were “stolen,” it says, by someone pretending to be a Heartland board member who persuaded a staff member to send them to a new email address.
It has asked “all activists, bloggers, and other journalists” to remove the documents and any quotations from them from the internet and other publications and said it plans to “pursue charges and collect payment for damages” from people who commented on the documents.
The document which Heartland says is fake states the group is considering developing material for use in classrooms which would provide a “curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science.” This document also notes that a “key Anonymous Donor” provided $1.7 million in 2010 and $979,000 in 2011 for “climate work,” while the Charles G. Koch Foundation – also a controversial body – gave $200,000 in 2011.  [Readers, this in incorrect  they gave $25,000 in 2011, and Heartland was hoping to get them to up that to $200,000 in 2012.]

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