Heartland Documents Reveal Fringe Denial Group Plans to Pursue Koch Money, Dupe Children and Ruin Their Future around the internet are some internal documents that appear to be from the Heartland Institute, a relatively obscure hard-core anti-science think tank. As DeSmogBlog explains, “An anonymous donor calling him (or her)self ‘Heartland Insider’ has released the Heartland Institute’s budget, fundraising plan… and sundry other documents (all attached) that prove all of the worst allegations that have been levelled against the organization.”  See update below.

Personally, I was skeptical of these docs, at least until I read the 2012 Fundraising Plan, which attacks the temperature station data of the “the National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).” That kind of error is classic Heartland.

And here’s another apparent blunder: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation returned as a Heartland donor in 2011. We expect to ramp up their level of support in 2012 and gain access to the network of philanthropists they work with.”

Those Heartland folks are such satirists.  Philanthropy “etymologically means the love of humanity,” whereas funding climate denial and inaction, as the Kochs do, is perhaps the cruelest thing you could possibly do to humanity.

My colleague Brad Johnson has just blogged on Heartland’s “Secret, Corporate-Funded Plan To Teach Children That Climate Change Is A Hoax,” which I’ll excerpt at the end. It’s funny in the way that The Shining was funny.

These documents just make no sense, kind of like climate science denial itself.  Perhaps this is a spoof put out by The Onion.


Certainly the page on Heartland’s secret plans to dupe children supports the latter theory:

“Whether humans are changing the climate is a major scientific controversy“ — what satire!

And who could believe that “a consultant with the Office of Scientific and Technical Information at the U.S. Department of Energy in the area of information and communication science” would get paid cash money to push a bunch of easily debunked lies on school children, of all people.  Heck, the International Energy Agency has said the world is on pace for 11°F warming, and “Even School Children Know This Will Have Catastrophic Implications for All of Us.”

If these documents are real, they revealed the desperate efforts of a fringe denial group to deceive children and ruin their future.  No, this must be from the brilliant staff at The Onion.  And they almost had us fooled!

UPDATE:  I have updated this post. Heartland has not yet denied the authenticity of any of the excerpts now quoted here, saying only that their authenticity “has not been confirmed” and claiming that another document distributed to the press was a fake.  ThinkProgress does not know the identity of the anonymous source of the documents or his or her connection, if any, to Heartland.  They assert these documents were acquired through trickery and are asking people not to write about any of this — but that plea sounds like more satire given what they wrote about the stolen Climategate emails:

Last week, someone (probably a whistle-blower at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, England) released emails and other documents….

The release of these documents creates an opportunity for reporters, academics, politicians, and others who relied on the IPCC to form their opinions about global warming to stop and reconsider their position. The experts they trusted and quoted in the past have been caught red-handed plotting to conceal data, hide temperature trends that contradict their predictions, and keep critics from appearing in peer-reviewed journals. This is new and real evidence that they should examine and then comment on publicly.

UPDATE: ThinkProgress is among several publications to have published documents related to the Heartland Institute. The documents were sent to us from an anonymous source, and the identity of the source was unknown to ThinkProgress at the time. The source later revealed himself on February 20, 2012. Heartland Institute has issued several press releases claiming that one document (“2012 Climate Strategy”) is fake and asserting other claims regarding the other documents. ThinkProgress has taken down the 2012 Climate Strategy document as it works to determine the document’s authenticity.

57 Responses to Heartland Documents Reveal Fringe Denial Group Plans to Pursue Koch Money, Dupe Children and Ruin Their Future

  1. Solar Jim says:

    And besides, if this were actually their mode of operation we would need to call them “a relatively obscure hard-core anti-science” federally allowed, stink tank.

    Then their corporate status might need to be rescinded, or flushed out, as it were.

  2. Thorn says:

    I am stunned over the media’s silence in covering climate change. Add an effective miseducation campaign into the mix, and it will be next to impossible to change our carbon path.

  3. Alex 77 says:

    The exposure of these documents confirm what climate realists/scientists have been saying for many years about the source of climate denial, and that the people pushing denier talking points are doing so for money. This money comes largely from the fossil fuel industry, which this further proves.

    The “Climategate” emails, whose motivated misinterpretation and attendant media blitz was *successful* at creating additional climate denialism, and importantly, gave politicians political cover to avoid climate legislation/renewable energy support. It was a case study of the powers of modern PR and misinformation, and just how effectively a lie can be made to persuade and effect policy.

    These Heartland docs *should* be a very effective weapon to shut down climate denier arguments, disbar the media credentials of paid climate deniers everywhere, and demonstrate the sophistication and dishonesty of the PR machine that climate scientists are up against. It truly is a test of whether or not scientists and honest/objective media brokers will ever be able to turn the tide in the climate messaging/media fight. This is a rare gift, and I hope to see the same strength and media brilliance employed in its dissemination as we all had to witness and endure during the “climategate” media blitz.

    Hopefully this episode becomes branded with a catchy name, which can then be neatly invoked forevermore to call to mind the devious and fraudulent nature of climate denial. You know, sort of like all manner of conservatives attempt when mentioning “climategate”. Please do better than “Heartlandgate”, though.

  4. Interesting Times says:

    Please :P You should know by now there’s no way on Earth the Onion could possibly top the real-life garbage put forth by deniers (Limbaugh’s “heat-index-as-government-conspiracy”, anyone?)

    The Heartland Institute, like other denier groups, got their start trying to deny the links between smoking and cancer. They’re shameless, nasty, toxic little shills who unfortunately have enough money and power to do significant damage.

    But on a feel-good note, you can watch one of them – Jim Lakely – get his butt handed to him here.

  5. S. Molnar says:

    The descriptions of Revkin and Curry seem spot on to me. Are you seriously defending them because of their institutional affiliations? Hey, Judith Miller was also with the NYT – I guess she was right after all.

  6. Jeff Poole says:

    You only have to look at the tripe these people put out about tobacco and gay people.

    A swift glance at that will allay any fears that this might be the work of the Onion. These folk are seriously warped.

  7. David Hart says:

    These idiots won’t be satisfied until they start seeing tornadoes in February. No, wait. That will be a sure sign of Armageddon.

  8. Lou Grinzo says:

    First, no one who reads this or any other site in the green blogosphere should be the least bit surprised by anything here, except perhaps the brazen nature of the deniers’ actions.

    Second, let me use this news as an excuse to (once again) recommend as strongly as possible that people read Merchants of Doubt. The incredible amount of detail in that book about the decades of science denial, all in the interest of financial gain and petty ideology, make it not just a must read, but likely the most important climate book of the last 10 years.

  9. Mark Shapiro says:


    Thanks for revealing the humor in Heartland’s work to help Koch oil billionaires teach global warming science to little kids.

    I believe that humor is the only way to make the point to the MSM.

    Charles Koch = Groucho Marx: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

  10. Mark Shapiro says:

    Or just ask the MSM why the Koch brothers don’t just provide Koch Industries “sciency” teaching materials directly to schools.

    After all, shouldn’t a hard-nosed, efficient businessman want to cut out the middleman? Why should Koch have to launder all that perfectly good money?

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Of all the atrocities listed here, subverting public school education may be the most evil. This is not new: Weyerhauser distributed pro logging lesson plans for years, designed to teach impressionable children to love clearcuts. The oil companies apparently learned from this.

  12. Wes Rolley says:

    For those who might be curious, here is where sourcewatch details David E. Wojick’s lucrative lobbying career.

  13. Sasparilla says:

    Wow….knew it this stuff was happening but to see the details spelled out, utterly stunning when looking at the breadth.

    The calls on Revkin and Curry are spot on…if I wanted to cultivate PR contacts wishy washy Revkin in the liberal paper of record would be #1…the “antipathy” with Joe for constantly wacking Revkin on the beak for his half truths sounds very plausible as does rest of it.

    I wish I could view it as satire, like Joe, but its way too cold and spot on with what these bozos are trying to do for that.

    This is the direct face of the war against the truth that is being waged by these folks, in all its glory to look at it (and all the money obviously flowing to these folks).

  14. Paul Klemencic says:

    If the Heartland budget is real, it appears that the organizations controlled by Anthony Watts, are getting $44,000 annually in Heartland funding… Watts has always denied he was getting fossil fuel industry money. And of course, we already knew he was getting money from a Fox News affiliate in the past.

    $88,000 Surface Stations Project

    Payments to ItWorks/IntelliWeather to create web site featuring data from NOAA’s new network of surface stations. First payment of $44,000 in January, second of same amount contingent on fundraising around mid-year.

    Also Heartland published his fallacious report claiming that the temperature records were changed by “dropping” stations in the past… I wonder how much money, or non-monetary compensation Watts got from Heartland for that piece of propaganda?

    Shouldn’t someone ask Anthony Watts to come clean on how much Heartland funding, travel expenses, publishing expenses, conference fees etc., he has gotten and accepted?

  15. Paul Magnus says:

    Yes, am flabbergasted. Also the almost total avoidance of facing up to this problem by the informed public. Many have and do just sweep the details and responsibility under a carpet assumed ignorance.

  16. These kinds of tactics are unethical. They have no place in modern business practices.

    How does a corporation morally justify supporting this kind of treason?

  17. I’ve been following DeSmogBlog, and they appear to have confirmed the legitimacy of these leaked documents.

    The question is will any mainstream media outlets pick this up, or will they continue to remain silent?

  18. Where’s that Luntz guy when we need him?

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    It is becoming increasingly important that we preserve the freedom of the internet, protect, fight for and fund the whistleblowers, and organize, organize for the future of all our peoples.
    Here’s to Joe Hills, ME

  20. Raul M. says:

    If opinion counts as a valid answer then maybe I could go back and get those “F” grades adjusted to “A”s.
    I would be famous umm infamous.

  21. prokaryotes says:


    Methane Emissions From Cows And Sheep Could Be Cut With Curry Spices

  22. prokaryotes says:

    ..spices traditionally used to flavour curries – can reduce by up to 40 per cent the amount of methane that is produced by bacteria in a sheep’s stomach and then emitted into the atmosphere when the animal burps.

  23. Mike says:

    I cannot wait for their emails to be posted. AW’s too.

  24. Andrea McGimsey says:

    I would not consider Heartland Institute obscure. They send newsletters on a regular basis to local elected officials and show up at National Association of Counties conferences. Their message has always been denial of climate change. Local leaders matter — and Heartland Institute figured that out years ago.

  25. Joe Romm says:

    Obscure to most Americans and the media. Fringe in their views.

  26. Millicent says:

    Fascinating to discover just how much money people require in exchange for betraying all humanity.

  27. caerbannog says:

    Also Heartland published his fallacious report claiming that the temperature records were changed by “dropping” stations in the past… I wonder how much money, or non-monetary compensation Watts got from Heartland for that piece of propaganda?

    If you want to see a direct comparison of temperature results generated with and without the “dropped stations”, check this image out:

    The NASA official global land-temperature results are plotted in yellow (included as a comparison). My results from GHCN raw data, all stations are plotted in orange. My results from the GHCN raw data *excluding the dropped stations* are plotted in dark blue. See any significant difference between the “dropped stations excluded” and “dropped stations included” results? Didn’t think so.

    The results I generated were computed via a very straightforward gridding/averaging routine, using raw data with no adjustments.

    Not a very hard project — I’d be more than happy to crunch the numbers again for the Heartland Institute for half of what they are paying Watts to do nothing.

  28. Dennis says:

    Deniers who routinely criticize some organizations because they receive money from people like George Soros should be even more critical of Heartland as its largest donor is anonymous. And yet, as Heartland writes “we regularly solicit his ideas for new projects.” This person is unknown and by their own admission exerts great influence over the organization.

  29. john atcheson says:

    So why isn’t this a page 1, above the fold story? Why doesn’t it lead the news? Certainly it’s more newsworthy than leaked e-mails taken out of context. Certainly it’s more newsworthy than the latest denier talking point.

  30. Tom Kimmerer says:

    Desmogblog’s site is either overwhelmed with traffic or is under a DDOS or similar attack. As of 12:30pm EST, the site is not accessible. Let’s hope they are back up soon, because the news media will only cover this if they can get at the original documents. Maybe Thinkprogress could make the documents available as well.

  31. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I was just about to post exactly the same comment.

  32. Tom Kimmerer says:

    Ah, Think Progress already has the docs: Heartland Institute Documents. Nonetheless, we need Desmogblog back up to get the word out more to mainstream media. MSNBC is covering it, but not on their front page. Forbes has a good column. More is needed.

  33. Doug Bostrom says:

    Forbes has a nice article up about this:

    “Ever wonder how people who write things that don’t make sense can afford to pay their bills? DeSmogBlog appears to have an answer.

    Last night they uploaded a slew of memos, minutes, and budgets from the Heartland Institute – material that implies Heartland is guilty of doing exactly what it claims climate scientists have been doing for decades: namely spreading dangerous disinformation simply to make a buck.”

    The rest of the story:

    Blog Reveals Climate Change Denier Group’s Corporate Backers

  34. fung0 says:

    If anyone finds a mirror for the documents, please post. Mirroring has been key in many other whistleblower cases, no need to itemize.

    As you say, if the original documents can be suppressed, the whole discussion is over.

  35. Doug Bostrom says:

    Also covered in the Guardian:

    “The Heartland Institute, an influential rightwing thinktank based in Chicago, which has long pushed misinformation about climate change, is currently having its own Wizard of Oz moment following the leaking of internal documents which reveal the true extent of its funding and efforts to cast doubt on climate science.

    The Register – a website well known for promoting climate scepticism – is describing the leak as “at least as good as the ‘Climategate’ e-mails”. This refers, of course, to the dumping online in 2009 of thousands of private emails exchanged between climate scientists over the previous decade.

    It’s a little too early to tell if it will cause as many ripples as that. However, the documents certainly contain some startling revelations and the unambiguous, clear intent of language used will certainly act to shine a much stronger spotlight on how climate sceptics, particularly in the US, operate and collude. We suspected much of this for years, of course, but we now have hard evidence.”


    Leaked Heartland Institute documents pull back curtain on climate scepticism


    Leak exposes how Heartland Institute works to undermine climate science

  36. Donald Brown says:

    The facts revealed in the Heartland story point only to small number of tactics used by the climate change disinformation campaign. This is a big story, even bigger then the issues raised by the Heartland documents. It has also largely escaped the enormous attention it deserves by the media. It is about a thirty year effort on the part of some corporations and free-market philanthropic foundations, to undermine mainstream science. Skepticism in science should be encouraged not vilified but this is not reasonable skepticism. This is deceitful disinformation. We on have just completed an analysis of eight tactics used by the disinformation machine campaign and argue that all of these tactics are ethically reprehensible. The tactics include not only the use of think tanks, PR firms and Astroturf groups to both hide the real parties in interest while undermining science as well as cyber-bullying, making claims which are either lies or reckless disregard for the truth, and manufacturing bogus scientific evidence. This is spelled out on The series distinguishes between reasonable skepticism and disinformation.

  37. (is this a deliberate attack?)
    This may be an internet battle – because their site is somehow down (as indicated by the tool of )

    However a cache may be found at

  38. SecularAnimist says:

    john atcheson wrote: “So why isn’t this a page 1, above the fold story? Why doesn’t it lead the news?”

    Because the corporate-owned mass media is just as actively involved in covering up anthropogenic global warming as the Heartland Institute.

  39. climatehawk1 says:

    No, Joe is operating mostly tongue in cheek here …

  40. Some European says:

    So far, I haven’t seen anything. Please share any media accounts you might find.
    I’m writing to lots of media outlets and influential people to get the story across. If only it were as easy as when ‘climategate’ was spread…

  41. Some European says:

    Work for it. I’m writing to many news outlets and influential people to get it out there.
    I’m shouting at my facebook friends to repost this. It’s incredibly hard. But every little bit can make a tiny difference until, who knows, we reach the tipping point.

  42. TonyLoman says:

    If you read the list of donors in the full document you will notice that Microsoft contributed to the IT&T Newsletter at Heartland. If you are a Microsoft investor please email investor relations and protest Microsoft’s contribution to one of the biggest anti-science outfits in the county.

  43. The story is starting to show up in a variety of outlets, so it is possible the number of people tracking it back have overwhelmed the site.

  44. JimE says:

    Hey folks: How about calling it “Denier-gate”?

    I am a retired Aerospace Engineer and as such, I actually do understand the Physics and Thermodynamics involved with Global Warming and Climate Change. I have been an almost daily reader of the stories on this blog but this is my first time putting in a comment. We have to do all we can to promote getting the true scientific word out about this. I forward a lot of the info on this website out to others by sending as a link. I hope all of you are doing the same.

  45. Deafening silence in the US mainstream media – after 24 hrs.. it is pretty clear this is news blackout on this subject.

  46. Bill Walker says:

    Actual coverage in the Newspaper of Record:
    Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science

  47. Charles says:

    Talk about irony! This is rich!

    Here’s the HI writing: “The individuals who have commented so far on these documents did not wait for Heartland to confirm or deny the authenticity of the documents. We believe their actions constitute civil and possibly criminal offenses for which we plan to pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation. We ask them in particular to immediately remove these documents and all statements about them from the blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions….

    “Those persons who posted these documents and wrote about them before we had a chance to comment on their authenticity should be ashamed of their deeds, and their bad behavior should be taken into account when judging their credibility now and in the future.”

    And here are comments from the HI (Joe Bast, no less) right after the CRU hack:

    “The misconduct exposed by the emails is so apparent that one scientist, Tim Ball, said it marked ‘the death blow to climate science.’ Another, Patrick Michaels, told The New York Times, ‘This is not a smoking gun; this is a mushroom cloud.'”

    “The content of the emails doesn’t surprise me and other “skeptics” in the global warming debate. We have been saying for many years that the leading alarmists have engaged in academic fraud, do not speak for the larger scientific community, and are exaggerating the scientific certainty of their claims. Tens of thousands of scientists share our views, including many whose credentials are far superior to those of the dozen or so alarmists the media choose to quote and promote.”

    Go here for those comments:

    Pot. Kettle. I’m waiting for the HI to issue its retractions regarding the CRU hack.

  48. Anne van der Bom says:

    There is very solid evidence that the station dropping introduced a warming bias.

    One of the stations that was kept in the dataset, is in a place nicknamed ‘The garden spot of the Arctic’. That’s solid, scientific evidence. No amount of analysing these so-called ‘temperature datasets’ will ever refute that fact!

  49. Lionel A says:

    Good to see another aerospace engineer make such remarks. I also understand the sciences of global warming including biological and ecological aspects. One of my life heroes Richard Feynman had such a wide compass. I wish I was young enough to embark on a career in oceanography.

    Perhaps you could have a quiet word in Burt Rutan’s shell like.

  50. MarkE says:

    The media might be drawn to it if there is a political angle. Are there any politicians associated with the Heartland Institute?

  51. Lionel A says:

    Which of course links back into Greening Earth Society and its other usual suspects:

    Sallie Baliunas
    Robert C. Balling, Jr.
    Patrick J. Michaels
    Willie Soon
    Sylvan H. Wittwer

  52. Ric Merritt says:

    Hey, doesn’t this post need a prominently displayed update about the severe doubts of the authenticity of one of the documents?

    If, as seems likely, they are mostly authentic, with one fake one ladled on for extra sauce, that is very annoying. And completely unnecessary, since the open activities of Heartland are already quite damnable enough.

  53. Joe Romm says:

    I don’t cite that document. The updates in this post explain the situation.

  54. JSmith says:

    I tried to question Watts, over on WUWT, with regard to this statement he made last year :

    “Heh, I’ve yet to see that check or any from Exxon-Mobil or any other energy or development company. Somebody must be stealing checks out of my mailbox. /sarc – Anthony.”

    I tried to discover whether he knew the Heartland money was coming to him at that stage; whether he was in the processing of searching for money from such organisations at that time; and why he had limited his decription to oil, energy and development companies, i.e. could he add in Heartland and similar organisations into that quote and still claim it as being true.

    First attempt was censored. Second attempt disappeared.
    What’s up with that indeed !

  55. Patrick Kearney says:
    Here is the SMOKING GUN for Republican Global Warming Disinformation. This You Tube Clip shows Frank Luntz training Republicans in how to Lie to the public and create daubt. From this training we see it has evolved today into brainwashing kids.
    This video is the best evidence to prove to the public that Republicans have lied and put the world at risk.

  56. Shelly L says:

    It just seems impossible to stop these people from spreading their propaganda… they have so much money, seemingly unlimited amounts. Now they want to brainwash kids.