CONFIRMED: Anti-Science Blogger Admits Heartland Institute’s ‘Special Project’ To Distort Temperature Data

The second in a series of posts about the Heartland Institute’s inner workings, from internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green.

Questions about the authenticity of the leaked Heartland Institute documents are fading, as projects described therein are confirmed. Heartland’s senior fellow James Taylor confirmed the existence of the climate-denier classroom curriculum project to ThinkProgress Green yesterday. Now, anti-science blogger Anthony Watts has confirmed that Heartland is funding his project to display weather station data, detailed in the leaked fundraising plan. In a comment at Andrew Montford’s Bishop Hill blog, Watts claims there are no “nefarious motives” in his project:

Heartland simply helped me find a donor for funding a special project having to do with presenting some new NOAA surface data in a public friendly graphical form, something NOAA themselves is not doing, but should be. . . . DeSmog, as part of their public relations for hire methodology to demonize skeptics, will of course try to find nefarious motives for this project. But there simply are none here. It’s something that needs doing because NOAA hasn’t made this new data available in a user friendly visual format.

The secret Heartland document explains that Watts isn’t just trying to present “new NOAA surface data in a public friendly graphical form.” Watts, the document explains, has been “exposing flaws in the current network of temperature stations (work that the Heartland Institute supported and promoted),” based on his hypothesis that “many of the temperature stations relied on by weathermen are compromised by heat radiating from nearby buildings, machines, or paved surfaces.” These stations generate “spurious records” which are “used by environmental extremists as evidence that human emissions are causing either global warming or the more ambiguous ‘climate change.’”

Like the rest of Heartland’s climate denial work, this project is anonymously funded.

Although it is important to calibrate weather stations, Watts’ idea that the record of rising temperatures is a result of bad data has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, Richard Mueller, a physicist funded by the Koch brothers to study “flawed” weather stations, confirmed that temperature data is “excellent” and “global warming is real.” Watts is now just another conspiracy theorist for hire.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does not have the resources to present their data in a more public-friendly form because of the endless assault on government by groups like the Heartland Institute and their right-wing funders. Last November, Republicans even killed a no-cost plan to streamline the agency to provide better services to the public.


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 origination.